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An SPCA volunteer answers questions from insightful readers

Posted on: Monday, June 11th, 2018

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I always appreciate reader feedback. It’s rewarding to know that something you wrote resonated with people. Thanks for your emails, calls and letters — they mean so much.

There are two questions I’m often asked. First being, “Don’t you find it hard to write these stories, with so much sadness in the world of animal welfare?”

A friend of mine, Jill Grafton, said it best — “You need a little piece of steel in your heart.” I often shed tears when writing about a sad or troubling story. But I know that as sad as I am looking in at the issue, it must be much sadder for the animals looking out. I write from my heart and try to put myself in the animal’s place to understand their hopes, fears, pain.

Sadness is often magnified by frustration and anger … at the neglect and cruelty that some people perpetrate against animals … at the often ineffective laws and lax penalties imposed on these individuals. But through it all, I’m inspired to keep going by the courage of homeless animals I’ve met.

Readers also ask, “Why did you choose to write about animal welfare?”

It’s my true passion. I was five years old and my parents took me to see Bambi. I was devastated when Bambi’s mother was killed by a hunter. That movie grabbed my heart and never let go. Looking back now, I understand the message the film tried to convey — that although fear and tragedy touched Bambi’s life, spring brings renewal and hope. And so it goes in animal welfare; for all the heartache and pain, there’s also joy when you see homeless animals learn to trust, open up, bloom.

I feel compelled to write. To give a voice to those who can’t speak for themselves. It’s a way to share the success stories in animal rescue and bring a smile to those who celebrate reading them. It’s heartening to hear that people find comfort in my words during times of grief and know they’re not alone.

It’s wonderful to learn that a column helped change someone’s thinking … unchaining their dog when they realized that a dog who spends his life tied up isn’t really living at all … spaying/neutering their pet once they understood how they were contributing to pet overpopulation. It is great to learn that a reader who formerly turned away when they saw someone mistreating an animal, now realizes that: “ ‘I can’t just think someone else will help; I have to speak up and report abuse if I see it.’ ”

It’s gratifying to know that folks who’ve never been involved in animal welfare, decided to step up after reading these stories — to volunteer their time, to foster an animal, to make a donation to the NS SPCA or favourite rescue. There is much work to be done and never enough hands.

My greatest hope is that someone will feel inspired in some small way to make a difference. It’s vitally important that people who care about animals unite to protect, save and cherish them. Each one of us can make a difference. Together we can make the world a better place for animals.

Judy Layne is a volunteer with the Nova Scotia SPCA. She is committed to speaking for those who cannot speak for themselves. She believes that each one of us who cares about animals can make a difference and together we can make the world a better place for animals.