Mission Animal Welfare
Linking People to Paws
May 2, 2006
By Abny Santicola, editor, FS Advisor
"The state of animal welfare in this country, I believe, is a true measure of the overall health of our society," says Matthew Bershadker, VP of development for the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
Less than 1 percent of all foundations support companion-animal welfare, Bershadker says, adding that that is just one of the funding challenges his organization and other animal-welfare organizations face. Among the others: getting the 66 million households with pets to support an organization with a mission of serving the 5 million-plus homeless companion animals across the country; and fragmentation within the sector.
The devastation of Hurricane Katrina led to a greater awareness of animal welfare and the need for organizations that serve this mission. "Katrina showed animals in crisis, but what most people don't know is that our companion-animal situation has been, and continues to be, in a state of perpetual crisis," Bershadker says.
"Many Americans see animal-protection groups as radical, when in fact, we, the ASPCA, are a very moderate, very middle-of-the-road group. We need to provide a platform and position where every pet owner feels connected to animal protection and specifically to the ASPCA," Bershadker says.
"We have found people's connection, commitment and support for animal protection needs to not interfere with personal choice," he adds. "We must recognize and communicate that you can love your pet and a cheeseburger, and that is OK."