There is a book entitled, "If You Meet Buddha On The Road, Kill Him." This adage applies to all the gurus in animal welfare. Without question, we need to learn everything we can from every available source. However, real problems begin when we start to blindly follow the gurus and stop thinking for ourselves. Fortunately, and curiously, this tendency seems to be occurring with only a few of the most militant members of the animal rights community in LA.
(And for their sake, I should add that the author does not mean we should actually kill anyone. He means that there comes a time when we have to decide for ourselves how to achieve our goals instead of blindly following someone else’s preachings.)
I receive an email or two each week telling me what guru a, b, or c has to say about running a large municipal animal welfare organization. None of these folks seem troubled by the fact that these gurus have no significant experience running an organization comparable to LA Animal Services in size and scope. The mere fact that these gurus are on the lecture circuit and charge for their advice is enough to allow them to be perceived as experts.
I’ve learned there is no such thing as “guru osmosis.” There is no guarantee of success through anything but thoughtful preparation and hard work. I have been told by the very gurus that some think can easily solve the complicated issues facing LA that they would “never have” my job. Why not? If not them, who? Why do they not publicly offer to help? The door is open! And if they are not going to help (absent a hefty consulting fee), why do they lead people into thinking they are “waiting in the wings”? The animals don’t need experts in the wings; they need them on the front line!
Success in LA will never be determined by who we follow, or by what philosophy we promote, or by anything other than our own personal involvement in saving animals and solving problems both big and small in a systematic way. The reason we have progressed as far as we have in LA is because of the positive involvement of the employees, volunteers, and partners of Animal Services who refuse to get mired in the mud-slinging and focus on achieving the goal. And we are achieving that goal as we focus on one animal at a time, 125 animals a day, week in, week out, month after month!
Imagine what could be done if the entire humane community were pulling together to make good things happen instead of engaging in internecine warfare and doing everything possible to demean and demoralize those of us who are charged with turning the situation around. We’ll keep on pushing with or without their help, but more animals will live and the job will get done sooner WITH their help than without it. They must live with that reality!
I received a call from a volunteer today who was ecstatic over delivering one animal in need of fostering to one of our New Hope partners. To my mind this volunteer did more to help LA take another step toward No-Kill in this one act of selflessness than all of last weekend’s protestors in all their self-serving actions combined.
In the final analysis, we have to solve this problem ourselves: the only expert LA has, and needs, to solve local animal welfare issues is you. What are you doing to help? Pursuing ulterior motives or truly helping animals in need? You are the one who determines success or failure. The buck does not stop with LA Animal Services, the buck stops with each one of us.
We can and we will achieve No-Kill when we stop being led around by the nose and agree to work together. By doing so we can and we will make LA the safest City in the nation for our pets!