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Learn To Step Up

By Maleah Stringer

December 24, 2004, ANDERSON, INDIANA-- When it comes to getting involved in problematic or potentially conflictual social issues, many members of our society suddenly become deaf, dumb and blind. Most people simply donít want to get involved because of the repercussions it might have on their own lives. They cite many different reasons for this but oftentimes they simply donít realize that they can do anything to make a difference.

The apathetic members of our society leave it to others or organizations who deal specifically with these issues to make the problems either go away or hide them so they donít have to see them. And itís true that when anyone reports violence or abuse of any kind they usually have to get somewhat involved.

But to be honest, our social and legal systems sometimes seem to impede the resolution of abuse issues. This is especially true concerning domestic violence or animal abuse. Oftentimes any agency you contact instructs you to call someone else who in turns tells you to contact the very ones who told you to call them. Itís very disheartening and maddening to attempt to do the right thing, invest your time and have no positive outcome. When this happens time after time many people get fed up and stop trying.

But sometimes with a little creative thinking and some courage you can make a difference. Ann did for two dogs in Alexandria. Both dogs were staked outside; one had shelter one did not. She knew that confronting the owners about the plight of their dogs could be potentially volatile if she didnít handle it correctly. If she did nothing, one or both of these dogs could die this winter when the temperatures dropped below zero. For Ann, doing nothing was not an option.

She bought a dog house and bales of hay. She went to the house and told the owner that sheíd noticed that her dog didnít have a house so she had brought an extra dog house that she no longer used in case she might want it. In this case the owner of the dogs was grateful and surprised to have the help. Ann told them Merry Christmas. Everyone was happy; the dogs had shelter, the owners received a random act of kindness and Ann could stop worrying about the dogs. (Please be aware that this kind of intervention does not always have a happy ending. Some people do not welcome the interference.)

I wonder how many animal lovers saw those dogs on a daily basis and chose not to do anything because they didnít know how, didnít think there was anything for them to do or didnít want to get involved?

There are situations just like this all over this county and every other county in America. It doesnít take a group or organization to do what Ann did. If more people made the decision to take this kind of responsibility there would be less abuse.

Things you can do when you see an animal in need:

Ask the owner if he needs help.

Buy a dog house, food, etc., and present it as a gift. Donít accuse or humiliate the owner. Keep in mind the primary goal is to help the animal.

Ask an owner if he needs help getting his animals spayed/neutered.

If you see animal abuse or neglect call the Anderson Animal Shelter or the Sheriffís Department. Donít expect someone else to do it. By the time someone might take the initiative, the animals could be dead.

Always take someone with you; never approach someone who you think might be an abuser. If you sense itís dangerous it probably is ó call the police.

This isnít just about animals being abused or neglected. There are many children in our community who could benefit from a mentoring program or maybe just a little positive attention to get them headed in the right direction.

If you know of someone who is elderly and alone you might ask if there is anything you can do for them. An act of kindness costs nothing, yet it can have the power to change someoneís life for the better.

Maleah Stringer, president of the Animal Protection League, is an animal massage therapist specializing in esoteric healing.