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Monday, August 04, 2008

Armed with Kibble and Kindness

With all the bad news in the world, and all the crises facing people and animals, it’s especially important to celebrate the good news and honor the people who are using their time and talents to make a difference. A pair of stories struck me today as exemplifying kindness and the very best of the human spirit. 

Kimberly_cole The Washington Times editorial page, in its weekly “Nobles and Knaves” item, honored Tempe, Ariz., real estate agent Kimberly Cole, who has responded to the foreclosure crisis by rescuing abandoned animals and helping people find homes that allow them to keep their pets. The Phoenix metropolitan area, like many others around the country, has been hit hard by the mortgage crunch, and animal shelters are filling up with evicted pets. Kudos to Cole for stepping in to make a difference. “There are options out there,” she told The Arizona Republic. “There are rentals out there that will let you keep your dogs. You just have to be responsible.”

Cole is joined by animal lovers, lawmakers, businesses, and humane organizations working together to help people and pets affected by the sub-prime squall. Congressman Mike Castle (R-Del.) held a pet food drive that yielded more than 1,200 pounds of food for the pets of needy families in Delaware. The Humane Society of the United States is awarding financial grants to animal shelters and rescue groups that have set up programs to help families care for pets through tough financial times.

Twelve-year-old Mimi Ausland of Bend, Ore., also set up an innovative program to help homeless pets in need. She started the website Freekibble.com to collect food for the dogs at the Humane Society of Central Oregon. She later started another campaign, Freekibblekat.com, which collects food for cats in shelters.

Mimi’s efforts inspired national media attention, and she appeared on “NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams” and the “Today Show,” after which the kibble totals skyrocketed. On July 12, two days after her appearance on national television, the daily food donation total reached a record of 803,940 pieces of kibble!

Mimi_ausland Mimi knew that one person could make a difference. “I volunteered at the Humane Society of Central Oregon, but I wanted to do something bigger to help the animals,” she said. Her program has been so successful that she is now delivering pet food to other shelters in the region. “I want to try to go to all of them and feed the animals,” said Mimi.

Kimberly Cole and Mimi Ausland are heroes for animals in their communities. They stand in stark contrast to extremist groups like the U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance, which tried to hurt pets by firing their blunderbuss at a special grant program for families in financial crisis. In animal protection work, we often see the best in people and the worst in people—and it’s easy to see who are the nobles and who are the knaves. 

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