Do you ever find yourself wondering why people volunteer? Are you interested in volunteering with BDAR?
On July 12th, we held our first "Coffee with the ED" session at Coffee depot in downtown Cheyenne.
BDAR is approaching a ten year anniversary. We have grown from a start up that very few people believed would succeed to a beloved nonprofit organization celebrated across the community.
We've also had time and opportunity to see the strengths and weaknesses in our program, the realities of what an all-volunteer approach can support, and the needs in our community that still aren't being met by available resources.
This Fall, our staff and Board will convene to draft a strategic plan and goals for the next 3-5 years. We're at a crossroads and wondering which way to go. We need the community's feedback and support to decide on a direction and make the leap of faith to move toward it.
That's what the coffee hours are for. They are an open dialogue session, a chance to talk about what's working and what's not, what's sustainable, what the upcoming challenges are, what the resources needed to meet them may be. It's a chance to take a look at our current programs and services and compare them to the needs of the community to see if they align.
Last night's discussion was great, and the half dozen or so people who came and stayed the whole time engaged in a very positive and hopeful dialogue. Topics we covered included:
- The current processes and procedures governing the operation of our volunteer, foster, and adoption programs
- The uncertainty of our current facilities. We may need to leave in Feb. 2019 or we may have the opportunity to expand our occupancy to the entire building. In either case, we'll also need to add our own veterinary services rather than rely exclusively on private partnerships for those.
- The risks and challenges associated with a permanent reliance on volunteer foster families given our rural community and small population.
- Current volunteer needs and limitations we face regarding outreach and education efforts
- Community cat management
- Funding challenges and development strategy
- Advocacy and lobbying
It was a lot of ground to cover in an hour and a half. But it was exactly what we were hoping for . We came away from it with some new connections, some new volunteers, some new points of view.
We are going to continue the conversation again in August. Please join us on Wednesday the 16th, again from 5:30 - 7:00pm. We'd like to thank our friends at Coffee Depot for creating a welcoming space for us and others in the community to gather.
See you then.
Save the date!
The 2017 Bark and Wine date has been set for Friday, October 6th.
Honoring BDAR's Founding dog, Kajsa, featuring a special keynote by Britney Wallesch, and live music by The Randy Burghardt Band.
Friday, October 6th
The Raddisson, Cheyenne
More details to come!
The 2017 Wyoming Legislature is in session and there are two bills we feel the animal welfare community and its supporters need to know about.
The first is SF0115, Malicious cruelty to animals. This bill is designed to make it a high-level misdemeanor offense to intentionally or cruelly shoot or poison an animal when it is on the property of its owner or on any other property where it is granted permission. The bill was brought the legislature after a beloved pet dog, Ben, was cruelly shot on his owner's land earlier this year. His injuries were so severe that he eventually had to be euthanized.
A Facebook page has been set up to track this bill and tell Ben's story. Visit it here.
UPDATE 2/3 - SF0115 passed the third reading in the senate with 29 favorable votes and one dissenting. Senator Cale Case from Fremont County was the lone vote against. The bill will now go to the House for introduction and committee assignment. We will post committee details and contacts when it has been assisgend.
The 2nd bill, HB0193, is yet another attempt to strengthen our state's animal cruelty statutes and to create felony-level charges for violating them. Wyoming is one of the only states in the country without felony animal cruelty statutes and is consistently ranked lowest, or next to last in state protections for companion pets. This bill is Rep. Zwonitzer's 4th attempt to increase the state's protections for animals.
This draft of the bill also has powerful protections for household pets in instances of domestic violence. Research shows that victims of domestic violence are less likely to leave or seek assistance when there are unprotected pets in the home.
See the article recent article in the Wyoming Tribune Eagle for more information.
UPDATE 2/3 - HB0193 passed through committee by a 6-3 vote.
Ayes included representatives Blake, Gray, Haley, Henderson, Laursen, McKim
Noes included representatives Clausen, Hunt, and Steinmetz
This bill has now moves back to the house. However, it must be heard again by the end of the day on Monday (2/6) or it will die. Your help is needed to persuade the House Majority Floor leader to ensure this piece of legislation is read again before the deadline. Please call or send your e-mails to:
David Miller - firstname.lastname@example.org, 307-857-5789
For a quick and easy way to submit your public comments regarding these, or any other proposed legislation, visit http://legisweb.state.wy.us/postcomments/HotlineDisclaimer.aspx.
The day Blue arrived at BDAR, there was a lot going on.
Our adoption center is small, the main room smaller than most living rooms in people's homes. And in it, there are half a dozen collapsible crates and kennels, two larger ones designed for use as outdoor runs bolted to the wall. There's a two story cat condo- all of these cages face each other as they are pressed up to the walls around the room's perimeter.
Blue is shy, and small, and he'd just been transferred from another shelter where he'd spent months hoping for adoption. Now he's come to BDAR with the idea that a foster home, a more natural environment with a soft bed and a yard to run in, will help boost his confidence and make him feel better about meeting new people. Maybe the next time he does, he won't be so stressed and overwhelmed that he can't make a connection.
But Blue's going to have to wait just a little bit longer for that comfort. Because, like most of BDAR's adoptable pets, a stop at the adoption center before moving to the foster home is in order. He needs a physical exam, he needs a file created, he needs pictures taken so people will find him online and maybe fall in love.
But, amid all of the hustle, and combined with several other new arrivals, Blue cowers in the back of his wire crate. It's covered with a blanket to help reduce the noise and activity - but it's not enough. These crates and kennels, purchased at retail stores with products designed for private in-home use, just aren't enough to make him feel safe. They are flimsy, the dogs before him chewed the metal so the door is bent and jerks the kennel around when it opens and closes. The plastic tray shifts beneath his feet. The blanket does nothing to dampen the noise.
Ultimately, Blue refused to even come out of the kennel. His photos had to be taken with him still hiding inside.
We need your help to ensure the pets who come to BDAR get the most comfort and security possible, even as their stay in the adoption center is short-lived. Our kennels are not designed for heavy use, sometimes as many as 40 dogs per week.
We're asking for your help in making this stop at the adoption center more secure, less overwhelming, by donating to help us buy commercial kennels instead. These kennels will offer noise and visual stimulus barriers. They'll withstand the heavy use and remain stable and safe after many, many animals come and go.
The kennels are $5,000 for each 2-kennel unit. We are hoping to install 2 units onsite. To donate, click here and indicate in the comments that you are supporting our kennel fund.
Blue has moved onto his foster home already. But we want to make sure that this experience isn't repeated for the other animals who come here looking for safety and love.
Please, donate now.
by Britney Wallesch
I picked up the book on a whim. This morning, when my computer keyboard malfunctioned and the TV wouldn’t start, I opted instead to spend the early hours with it. I was plunged immediately into this poignant piece by a fledgling border patrol agent. A year in the life, so to speak. In it, the author struggles with his own morality - with the choices he makes after coming face to face with people immersed in the kind of real-life battle we could never imagine. It’s a job he sought out, intentionally seeking to understand some piece of the world entirely foreign to so many of us.
The essay (titled “Bajadas” by Francisco Cantu and Found in The Book Great American Essays of 2016) resonated with me and, on the heels of yet another couple of days that have forced me into introspection, motivated this letter to all of you.
Yesterday, we fielded calls and e-mails announcing the return of 5 dogs previously adopted from our program.
5 returned/failed/heartbreaking/hopeless adoptions. In. One. Day.
You all know we consider it a pretty great week when we can even do just 5 adoptions, so all of that in one day weighs pretty heavily. And you may not know this, but it’s pretty dang hard sometimes for us to find a foster home to take a returned adoption. It doesn’t feel nearly as rewarding, as triumphant as a new rescue. There’s none of that satisfaction of knowing you’re offering that pet a warm, soft bed - the quiet of a home, the freedom of a yard. With a returned adoption, there’s only defeat. There’s the fear that whatever caused the return is going to be more than you can manage at home, there’s the thought that potentially failing again might be to much to bear.
One of you came to me yesterday in tears over one of the returns. You took that foster baby back, no questions asked. But not without utter devastation. To love them once and let them go is hard enough. To feel trapped by what was supposed to be a good deed, when the adoption doesn’t work out and that pet has to come to you because there really is no place else to go is another thing entirely. You wanted a break, I understand. But you won’t get one. There’s really no one to blame, and because of that it sometimes feels like an entirely futile effort.
So when you cry and take them home anyway, I have to ask myself - why do I keep encouraging you to do it? I know, because I’ve lived it myself a hundred times over and because I’ve seen countless numbers of you through it too, that fostering homeless pets is thankless, heart-breaking work. I know that when you take that animal home you’re risking your home, your children’s well-being, your pet’s well-being, your heart, sometimes your marriage.
I’m going to encourage you to do it anyway.
I know that if you do it long enough, the day will come when I have to tell you that the pet we’d hoped to save is beyond saving. Sometimes you’ll be angry and hate me for it. Most times you’ll understand and support it, and struggle with immense guilt afterwards for having done so. I marvel at your strength and kindness every time. In all these years - I can count on one hand the number of times a foster family opted not to be in the room when their beloved foster pet slipped away.
And even when things go the way we planned - when a happy family comes along and adopts your pet, I know that we all choose to focus on the possibility that it’s going to work out. We tell ourselves that this adoption, this family, is going to be forever. Because what else can we do? We know that truthfully, a lot of those pets will never been seen again. The adopters won’t follow up, they’ll give the pet away to someone else. Or, they keep it, and hopefully they cherish it as we have done.
In this sense, I suppose we should be grateful for returned adoptions. Because at least we know, at least we get another chance. I know that the fact we do take dogs back is a source of pride and confidence for our foster families. So while on the one hand I know that finding foster homes for these dogs will be very hard, I also know that if we didn’t make and keep that promise, we might never get the chance to try and help them in the first place.
I guess my point in all of this is a sort of apology mixed with a rallying cry. I have to apologize, for asking you to volunteer for certain heartache, for frustrations, for helplessness and sorrow. I’m sorry that even though I know all of this is coming your way as a result of having fostered I am going to keep asking you to do it anyway.
But I also know that this is a choice you make. Just like that border patrolman did when he sought out his painful job. It is impossible to be human and avoid suffering. And while we cannot individually fight against every injustice we can, and almost always do, choose to fight at least one.
This is our battle. We are in it together. We stand together if only to say that this problem will not go unnoticed. We will endure endless guilt, a constant sense of being overwhelmed, pain and suffering that brings us to our knees over and over again because there is always hope that the next outcome will be different.
And, thankfully, a lot of times it is.