Editorial: Donations & disaster
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, October 2005:
Disasters requiring monumental animal relief efforts are
likely to happen increasingly often in coming years, as climatic
instability increases due to global warming. Thus the lessons
learned from the response to the evacuation of New Orleans, many of
them still just beginning to be absorbed, may appear to be as
important 13 years from now as the lessons from Hurricane Andrew in
1992 were to enabling the humane community to respond to Katrina and
Rita with markedly more efficacy than the governmental and nonprofit
human services sectors.
The animals’ need has been great after the devastating storm,
and there is rebuilding to follow in Louisiana and Mississippi. On
the positive side, there is now the possibility of improving
conditions for animals in the Deep South in many ways, through the
infusion of new interest, new energy, and new capital. Many of the
disaster relief workers who ventured south to help had never seen the
“Third World of the U.S.” before. Many vowed to return, to help
follow through with the rebuilding, and all who served or donated
are likely to have an enduring intensified interest in animal welfare
in parts of rural Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama that only six
weeks ago were seldom noticed.
As much as $40 million has been donated to help animals in
the Katrina/Rita hurricane zone. This is in itself an astonishing
accomplishment, amounting to more than the annual revenues of all
but a few of the biggest animal welfare organizations worldwide.
ANIMAL PEOPLE is concerned, however, that organizations not raising
funds for hurricane relief work may experience disaster in the form
of reduced donations this winter, now that so many animal charity
donors have poured their resources into Katrina/Rita relief.
We are apprehensive about the possibility of a repetition of
the post-9/11 phenomenon. After the lion’s share of 2001 charity
donations–for people and animals alike–went to organizations in the
New York City area, donations fell off so sharply elsewhere that many
charities without endowments or investment portfolios went into debt,
were forced to curtail key programs, or were forced to close.
Nationally, the numbers of homeless animals killed in shelters
soared by half a million, coinciding with reductions in funding for
low-cost and free dog and cat sterilization. The shelter death toll
is now falling again, but recovering lost progress toward becoming a
no-kill nation took four years.
At ANIMAL PEOPLE post-9/11, we maxed out our personal credit
to continue publishing, but for several years were reluctantly
obliged to reduce the numbers of free subscriptions we sent to
overseas animal charities, and reduce spending on other outreach
programs such as our website.
We ask for the help of our loyal supporters now, so that we can
sustain and expand our momentum.
If you can make a donation to ANIMAL PEOPLE at this time, we
assure you it will be put to good use in changing things for animals
in the future by changing the way people think about animals and
animal welfare now.