By the way, by asking 39 questions, Pet Blogs United readers have raised a total of 390 bowls of food so far for the questions. Now we have the opportunity to earn 10 more bowls of food for each comment left on this post & tomorrow's post.
1. How did you come up with the idea behind the creation of Iams Home 4 the Holidays? I am proud to say that I've spent over four decades as an animal welfare advocate. When I joined the staff at Helen Woodward Animal Center in 1999, I was all too familiar with the pet homelessness epidemic and I wanted to do whatever I could to help find orphaned animals loving, forever homes. In an effort to encourage families to adopt from a shelter or a rescue organization, I created an adoption drive and quickly brought Iams on board to help bring greater awareness to the cause. Thirteen years later, the Iams Home 4 the Holidays program is still going incredibly strong.
2. Do you know if IAMS is sponsoring a similar drive in Australia? We have lots of homeless animals here, too. Yes, we work with nearly 50 animal organizations in Australia, to see a complete list please visit the following link: http://www.animalcenter.org/home4theholidays/shelter_map.aspx
3. Any advice for getting people to be more open to adopting older or special needs animals? Older dogs generally have some training, both in obedience and manners. Older dogs can also learn quickly what’s expected of them to gain and keep your love and attention. As for special needs animals, with a health assessment before adoption, one can take appropriate measures to address them and help with improvement. In general, all dogs are in need of lots of love and attention.
4. What’s the best way to get an adopted shelter dog used to your home when you leave for work? I live in a condo with an open concept (not really rooms to close off except the bedroom) and am looking at various small dog breeds that might work well in this situation. The best way to acclimate your new dog to your home is to establish a specific area for them. You can also try crate training them – it will help with potty training and will provide your dog a safe, comfortable place they can call their own.
5. Any advice on ways to help animals displaced because of the economy and foreclosure crisis. I know this is a tough question, but so many animals are losing their homes and families. If you are having trouble keeping your pet, it’s always best to ask friends, family and your community before giving them away. People are always willing to help. If you can’t afford to adopt in the first place, but really want a pet, you can always volunteer to temporarily foster a pet, or donate your time or money to a local animal organization.
6. I just read on the HWAC site the amazing story of how you came to be an advocate for animal welfare. Can you tell us a little about what you did immediately before creating HWAC, what led you to where you are today and perhaps one or two of the most valuable insights you've learned from your years helping the animals who need it most? First I need to say, I did not create Helen Woodward Animal Center. It was a wonderful, best kept secret, that needed someone to help it grow and become a world leader. Prior to coming here, I spent twenty years at North Shore Animal League of America, and two years as a consultant for animal welfare. The most valuable insight that I have learned is to think with your mind, rather than your heart when running your organization. The pets already have my heart; I can only help them by using my intelligence to get them into quality homes as quickly as possible.
7. How did you get involved in your work and do you have pets of your own at home? I seriously got involved after a little dog put purpose into my life. I have 3 dogs and 1 cat at home, and any of us that have pets know that our dogs welcome us home, and our cats allow us to come home.
8. If someone is unable to foster or adopt, but still wants to help, what is the best way to do that? That’s a good question … even if you’re not able to adopt a pet, there are still plenty of ways you can get involved to help homeless animals. You’ll definitely want to visit facebook.com/iams and “Like” the page itself, various messages, photos, videos, etc. posted and in return Iams will donate up to 100 meals per “Like” or comment to feed orphaned animals. The page also has information about becoming a volunteer, look into making a donation to help pets or learn about other ways you can help.
9. Can you tell us what your favourite memory (animal related) is? Going back to that day on the street in the Bronx, when that little dog gave me purpose, will be the day that I never forget. Many of us go through life doing good things and being good at our jobs. I feel I am one of the blessed few that feels they have a purpose for being on this earth.
10. I would like to ask Mike if -- in his early years in the trenches of actually saving and fostering and re-homing, etc. the animals – did he ever get attached to any of them? Did he ever want to keep them for his own? I run into this a lot... You know there are so many times that we fall in love with animals. It could be the way they looked at us today, it could be the way they crawled up on our laps, it could be the way they snuggled our face, licked our hand, licked our cheek, all of these reasons, and many others, are the reason I fall in love with pets. But I know if I had too many, I could not give them the individual attention they deserve. So I need to work to get them into quality homes as quickly as possible. That’s what they deserve.
11. I could never do your job, if for no other reason than I would just get too emotionally overwrought. How do you (and those who work with you) keep going without completely burning out? We stay focused, and I encourage every day, to stay focused on the good we achieve. We stay focused on the purpose of why we are here. We work hard, but we never forget the reason for us being here, and we work as a team to achieve our goals.
12. I am wondering if Mike is a cat person or a dog person? I do not want my cat to read my answer. I find my dogs more loving and my cat more aloof. I am a total pet person.
13. What do you think are some ideas to help eradicate back yard breeding, puppy mills, and to show uneducated people that adoption is the way to go? The most important step is to speak out and show people the problems with puppy mills and back yard breeding. A great action to help eradicate this type of breeding is by joining your local animal organization. This will not only help educate people about back yard breeding and puppy mills, but it will also help push pet adoption.
Don't forget to leave your comments to earn more bowls of food donated by Iams for orphaned pets. 10 bowls per comment! And come back tomorrow to read part two of Mike Arms answering your questions.
* All pet featured on this post are available for adoption for the Helen Woodward Animal Center.