Saturday, 11 July 2015

Charitable Donations: Athletes For Animals

I'm always on the lookout for the great things that hockey players are doing within their communities. In 2008, I ran the "Charitable Donations" series about a vast number of charities founded and ran by NHL stars. There are usually a few players who emerge with a new charity in the summer, but it's hard to gather facts and details about the charity until it starts really benefitting those in and around the community. Today, Hockey Blog In Canada is extremely happy to present the charity supported by David and Kelly Backes of the St. Louis Blues in Athletes for Animals!

Before we get to the charity itself, let me say that this charitable organization resonates in a big way with me. I have worked in a number capacities in raising awareness for both wild and domesticated animals, and I have had and currently have a pet that has been adopted from my local chapter of the Humane Society. It's important to get all the facts about the animal you'd like to adopt before running off and adopting from a shelter or breeder, and the responsibility of looking out for your new family member once he or she gets home is the same responsibility as one would have with a child. It's important to remember that.

Mission Statement: Directly from the Athletes for Animals site, "An increased respect for all companion animals, so that all decisions about pets – from adoption to spaying/neutering to providing a permanent home – lead us to manageable pet population." That really is the key to being good pet owners - managing the pet population. We often hear about shelters filling up with strays and homeless animals, and it really comes down to managing your pet. I'll speak about my own pet, Meg the cat, below, but this is an excellent mission statement that identifies the importance of managing the pet population through education.

How Did Athletes For Animals Start?: According to the website, the Backes' journey into pet education and proper pet management started when they began volunteering at a local shelter while attending school at the University of Minnesota-Mankato. That led to the first addition to the Backes family as they adopted a cat from that shelter. From there, fostering and opening their doors to a number of animals has helped these critters find loving families of their own.

Kelly Backes has served as interim Executive Director and was also the Vice President of the Board for Five Acres Animal Shelter, a no-kill organization in the St. Louis area. David is also a Board Member for Five Acres Animal Shelter, and the Board successfully raised a capital campaign that saw the new canine building designed and built from the ground up. Many dogs in the St. Louis area who have found themselves without a home have been put back into homes thanks to Five Acres Animal Shelter.

Today, David and Kelly work with other athletes in cities all over North America to help pair the athletes not only with a pet of their own, but with shelters who can use their presence to help the pets in their care. As their website reads, "David and Kelly believe that no matter the standards – age, breed or size – there is an adoptable dog or cat waiting for each and every one of us to step up and help save their life. David says, 'When you follow what you love, goodness follows you.'"

How Can I Help?: Adopt a pet from a local shelter! Seriously, that's the best way you can help a critter out!

In all honesty, I know it's not possible due to circumstances for some of you, and that's ok too. There are ways you can help. Donations always help, and the donations you make will go to organizations and charities that have been approved by the Athletes for Animals grant committee and "demonstrate animal welfare best practices and outstanding community support". It's important to understand that "[t]he majority of A4A funds will be dedicated to spay/neuter, education, and adoption programs", something sorely needed in the pet adoption world. To make a donation, please click here for the Athletes for Animals donation page.

Maybe you're an athlete reading about this excellent organization? Athletes for Animals wants your support as well! Athletes for Animals is always looking for Athlete Ambassadors for their program, and that's a great way to get in and help out a number of critters and organizations! There are a pile of big-name athletes who are currently helping Athletes for Animals in their quest for better education on pets, and you could be one too!

As for me, I was searching for a critter to occupy some space in the new HBIC headquarters. I had been searching for some time when I was made aware of Meg's plight. Meg had been in satellite shelters and the local Humane Society for more than three months without so much as an inquiry as to her availability. According to the staff at the Humane Society, she was very skittish around other cats, and someone had attempted to get to know Meg in front of the entire cat condo unit at another adoption location. When he went to pick Meg up, she did what any freaked out animal would do - she bit him. This went onto her record, and she seemingly was blacklisted by all of the satellite locations from that point on.

When I went to see Meg at the Humane Society, I asked for a private room to meet her since I didn't want her to freak out like she did at the satellite location. After all, I wasn't having multiple cats at my home, and I wanted her to feel comfortable with me. Minutes later, she's purring loudly and rubbing up against me legs like a cat is wont to do. No biting, no scratching, no freaking out, and the little goofball is a major part of my life now after spending more than 100 days at various adoption locations. See what a little education can do?

Honestly, I'm 100% behind what David and Kelly Backes are doing in running Athletes for Animals. Animals are a major part of a number of families in North America, but there are still more critters who need our help. Athletes for Animals helping the communities these families live in. It's time for us to help them as well.

Until next time, visit your local shelter and find a new family member!

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