Sometimes it’s those who are at the mercy of others, who can do little or nothing to help themselves, where you find the true need for change. It takes courage to make a stand, to reach out, create hope and inspire others who support your efforts, because they can see you are committed to a purpose larger than yourself. This is the essence of life.
I am Mark Brodinsky and this is The Sunday Series.
The Sunday Series (58): Save 90
“Their lives matter. They feel pain and suffering and we owe it to them to do everything we can to care for them because they can’t care for themselves.” – D. Stone
Deborah Stone is committed to helping to save lives, the lives of those who bring joy to so many, but in turn get the raw end of the deal when they are lost, released, forgotten, or given up for adoption. Yes, they are animals, but to anyone who has ever brought a pet into their lives you know they mean so much more. Pets become family…and family matters.
“A dog is the only thing on earth that loves you more than he loves himself.” – Josh Billings
Just about a 18 months ago Deborah lost her latest rescue, Elton, when he passed away from cancer. It was a painful loss and Deborah thought she might be finished with dog adoptions, but a few days later she found herself online, looking for another dog to rescue. She says she was “blown away” with the amazing online resources focused on rescues, so much so that Deborah, a former reporter for WJZ-TV and currently a free-lance writer and video producer, wanted to write an article about all she had discovered in her search for rescues and shelters. But then her step-daughter told her to find out a little more about BCAS, the Baltimore County Animal Shelter.
The stories Deborah saw and heard about the BCAS troubled her deeply – the shelter was not even coming close to the percentages of most shelters when it came to animal releases vs kills. The BCAS was, as recently as 2013, euthanizing nearly half its animal population. For Deborah, this was unacceptable, way below the national average and she wanted to help enact change. During her two decades as a TV news reporter Deborah had remained objective and made sure she was never be part of any news story she was working on. Now out on her own as a free-lance writer and video producer, Deborah could share her sentiments, get involved and use her passion and put her talents to work for a cause bigger than herself.
Her new purpose: Save 90. (http://save90.blogspot.com/)
“Once you have had a wonderful dog, a life without one, is a life diminished.”
– Dean Koontz (author)
90% is the percentage of animals being saved in many shelters around the country. The BCAS was falling way short of that goal and Deborah and others protested for change. This was new territory for the well-respected former TV reporter, but when you feel strongly about a cause, you need to make your voice heard. These days if you want to share your voice, one of the best ways to do it is not to simply speak so those in close proximity can hear, but to get your voice heard by people across the community and all over the world. Start a blog.
In August of last year, Deborah launched her blog, Save 90. The focus so far is the Baltimore County Animal Shelter, and efforts like this are not without precedence and tremendous success. Another shelter, The Baltimore (City) Animal Rescue and Care Shelter (BARCS), was once much worse than the County equivalent. Back in 2005 BARCS was killing about 98% of its pet population. But a change in leadership, a call for partnership with Baltimore City and tremendous community support, as well as non-profit status, helped to turn things around. BARCS now has a euthanasia rate of only about 23%. Change can happen. Lives, even those of dogs and cats matter. If not, why would anyone go out of their way to make them part of their lives?
“Why does watching a dog be a dog fill one with happiness?”
– Jonathan Safran Foer, (author)
To be completely transparent for a moment, let me say that I met Deborah nearly two decades ago when I too worked at WJZ-TV. I bring this up only because I know her, her sincerity, her drive and too many times people view animal stories and the people who fight for them as wacky, crazy, or who simply have too much time on their hands and put animals lives before those of humans. Such is not the case here. I know Deborah has a cause for which she believes is worth fighting for and she is systematically going about the proper steps and channels to enact change… especially where the government is involved.
“Why I’m doing this is to inform people”, says Deborah, “for something they might never know about…and it happens like a million other things the government does that you don’t know about. If you don’t know it goes unchecked, and there are lives at stake.”
Save 90 is now part of Deborah’s purpose and passion and it is starting to make a difference. The release vs kill rate at the Baltimore County Animal Shelter is improving and even this weekend a push is on to promote animal adoptions.
Those who wield the power of political persuasion are taking notice. Earlier this month the Baltimore County Council passed Bill 2-15. Councilwoman Vicki Almond drafted the legislation and all six of her fellow Council members signed on as co-sponsors. The bill will create an Animal Services Advisory Commission to look into the BCAS and make recommendations.
Politicians are not the only ones paying attention. To garner even more support Deborah is reaching out to Baltimore County business people who are supporting the Save 90 mission in video advertisements you can see on the blog. Advertisers are asked to make a donation – something with the # 90 in it – which means they can donate $90 or give more and the money is donated directly to rescue groups to help animals find a home. So far Deborah has been able to collect and donate about $5,000. When money is donated, the recipient videotapes a thank you which is then posted on the Save 90 blog as proof they have received the donation and is putting it to good use to help improve the lives of the animals. To increase public awareness the next step for Deborah is gaining some prominent celebrity endorsements for Save 90 and the topics of animal rescue and shelter support.
“Dogs don’t rationalize. They don’t hold anything against a person. They don’t see the outside of a human but the inside of a human.” – Cesar Millan, (dog trainer)
So what’s it like to rescue an animal?
Deborah knows first-hand, currently caring for the 3rd dog rescue she has had in her life, a poodle mix named Dewey. “Rescuing an animal is an interesting experience”, says Deborah. “Very often the animal comes to you with emotional issues because of their background – they may have been abused or neglected – you don’t know. My most recent one is the sweetest, most wonderful dog, but he came with issues. Dewey was about one year old when we adopted him and I don’t think he had ever been walked…the pads of his paws were completely pink and smooth. I don’t know if he lived in a grassy area, or was just kept in a cage. He had never seen a car. I took him for a walk, he saw a car and he almost had a stroke. He took some extra attention to house break as well, but it’s all worth it.”
The most satisfying experiences in life are the ones you struggle to achieve. There is the very positive, heartwarming feeling you get from saving a dog like Dewey. Deborah says, “the good side is you feel like you have saved their life and very often they are very, very attached to you. Dewey adores me and I know every day I gave him a chance. Every day I live in the joy of having given him a chance with life and happiness. He’s a very happy dog.”
“Heaven goes by favor. If it went by merit, you would stay out and your dog would go in.”
– Mark Twain
Deborah says there could be some fundraisers in the future for Save 90 and she is keeping watch on the status of several shelters, including the BCAS. The big issue right now is volunteerism. In the city, BARCS has 400 volunteers who work with the animal shelter. The Maryland SPCA has 800 volunteers. The Baltimore County Animal Shelter has about 20 volunteers and Deborah says the county won’t let them do much of anything. She would like to see a much more robust volunteer and foster program. The idea would be for a county resident to keep an animal in their home as a foster pet, until it found a permanent place to live. Deborah also says she would like to see the BCAS coordinate much more actively with local rescue organizations, who so far have not had great things to say about the county animal shelter.
“These are our communities animals”, says Deborah, “and it is our responsibility to care for our these animals and if it’s not on your radar then who knows what is really going on and how much these animals suffer. It is our job to make sure these animals lives are as good as they can be.”
“Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole.” – Roger Caras, (photographer and writer)
Anyone who has ever loved a dog or cat knows the feeling. The right pet can change the trajectory of your life, adding a component of unconditional love unmatched by other living species. Deborah Stone has experienced this love, and any of you reading this who own a pet most likely know the same, myself included. Yet it is these animals who lack the ability to fight for themselves. They can only give and receive love, but are incapable of fighting for their own self-worth. They can experience pain and suffering but are helpless to change their own situation. Sometimes someone, somewhere has to step up and fight for those who can’t do it for themselves.
Deborah Stone and Save 90.
Until next time, thanks for taking the time.
If you know of a Baltimore County business owner who might like to advertise on Save 90, please ask them to contact Deborah at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mark Brodinsky, Author, Blogger, Speaker, Emmy Winner, Financial Services
Author: The #1 Amazon Best-Seller: It Takes 2. Surviving Breast Cancer: A Spouse’s Story
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