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March 28, 2014

From Russia with Love

Two days ago, it was former puppy mill dogs, rabbits, and birds from Arkansas arriving in D.C. Yesterday, to considerable and much warranted media fanfare, it was 10 street dogs from Sochi, Russia, who with our help made a trip across two continents to start a new life in America.   

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Jimmy in one of the open air enclosures at PovoDog, the first dog shelter in Sochi.

These transports and rescues provide glimpses of our never-ceasing, far-flung, and direct efforts to help dogs and other animals in need.

Humane Society International staff members have been working hard with Sochi based Povodog to help these dogs since the Olympic flame was extinguished, making arrangements to get them to the U.S., after the heroic efforts of Olympian Gus Kenworthy and his friend Robin Macdonald to draw attention to their plight.

As I’ve said before, street dog problems are a familiar challenge to us. We have street dog management programs at work in a number of Asian countries, including Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, and the Philippines, as well as in a growing number of Latin American nations.  We’d like to expand that work to Russia, and we are taking a look at the feasibility of that idea now. 

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Jimmy taking a break after a long flight from Russia. He then headed to the Washington Animal Rescue League, the Emergency Placement Partner taking in the ten Sochi dogs.

No group provides more hands-on care to dogs and other animals than The HSUS and our affiliates, and our work with dogs has an extraordinary footprint.  Just this month, we rescued 17 dogs from an awful hoarding case in Costa Rica, and we conducted our 18th and 19th puppy mill rescues in the last three years in North Carolina alone. 

Meanwhile, we are expanding the reach of our groundbreaking Pets for Life program throughout the country, providing critical pet care services to underserved communities. Thanks in part to support from PetSmart Charities, Pets for Life is now in 22 cities. And tonight, we’ll gather at an opening ceremony for our new dog-care center in Los Angeles, where we offer free pet care, dog training and other important Pets for Life services.

The HSUS’s opponents hate our effective advocacy campaigns against factory farming, dogfighting and cockfighting, puppy mills, sealing, the exotic pet trade, horse slaughter, and so many other areas.  They don’t want their cruelty or their exploitation of animals challenged, and I can understand they don’t like being confronted by a force like The HSUS. 

But it’s an amazing psychological process to see how such adversaries construct their own image of The HSUS, one that has so little bearing to reality, and try to twist the public’s perceptions of our organization and its important work. Time and again, for example, they falsely argue that our advocacy work crowds out our hands-on care of animals – somehow that we cannot do both.

The fact is, they are wrong – willfully wrong.  The HSUS and its affiliates are number one in advocacy and number one in animal care, and the dogs of Sochi and tens of thousands of animals we’ve helped throughout the United States and abroad are living evidence of that life-saving work.  Our advocacy work prevents much avoidable suffering and cruelty, and our direct care work meets the needs of animals in crisis.  It’s precisely the vision our founders championed and sought to implement sixty years ago.

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