marin humane society
SHELTER OF THE MONTH
Animal Place recently attended a workshop given by these two leading ladies at the annual Animal Sheltering Expo presented by the Humane Society of the United States, which was held in Daytona, FL this year. Their presentation, “Returning to Our Humane Society Roots: The Role of Advocacy in Your Organization,” was a motivating jolt of what a humane organization could look like and what community, state or even national issues it might take on. When asked what inspired this workshop and how they thought attendees and their peers in the sheltering world responded to advocacy efforts, McKenney had this to say -
We were inspired to conduct the workshop on advocacy because both Cindy and I have seen several inspiring and impactful campaigns as well as advocacy activities AND we feel frustrated that many organizations seem to shy away from taking on any advocacy! We have colleagues that seem to think it’s not what they should do or maybe they are fearful in taking a more active role in advocacy. As we stated in our opening remarks during the workshop – we wanted attendees to know how much advocacy is a main “root” in our field of work and there are many ways an organization can bring in advocacy to their organization (for example, it isn’t just lobbying for specific bills or picketing an event...). Based on the comments from the attendees, there was a genuine appreciation for our presentation regarding the history and evolving of animal welfare and a new way of looking at ways to do more advocacy work in their own community, within their own organization.
We believe an animal friendly menu policy is the right thing to do. Most animal welfare organizations have in their values and/or mission something about being compassionate about animals or promoting the human-animal bond. Having the menu policy is simply reflecting those values and mission; it is demonstrating how the organization can be a good role model too. It can encourage others to take the step towards eliminating animals from their diets. – Nancy McKenney
Advocacy, McKenney and Machado argued, “isn’t just an activity for large national groups. Many humane organizations are cautious about advocating for animals such as horses, wildlife or exotics.” Their workshop challenged animal welfare professionals to think about why their organizations should embrace being an advocate for *all* animals and provided tools to help attendees incorporate the idea of advocacy into their organization’s policies, procedures and program.
At Marin Humane Society, advocacy has always been an important part of their mission. MHS has an Advocacy Committee, which advocates for animal welfare legislation and works to engage its community to help them protect animals in California and beyond. In their last strategic planning (2011), the results produced a list of organizational goals. Their top priority? To be a local and national leader in animal welfare and advocacy. And to accomplish that, MHS has sought to:
- Develop and communicate a clear position on animal advocacy
- Engage in targeted campaigns and activities
- Expand its efforts to save more animals state-wide
- Exemplify a model animal shelter
- Provide education and support to animal welfare organizations
Animal Place asked Nancy if she had any advice for shelter directors or event planners who might be on the fence about adopting an animal friendly menu policy -
It is easier than you think! There are more delicious options for what to serve too. There are more organizations taking this policy one too, so you won’t be alone (note – The New England Federation of Humane Societies has this policy for their annual conference, and has a great table tent sign explaining why to their attendees!). If an organization is really overwhelmed or nervous about the idea, perhaps start small by just having a policy that says you won’t serve meat at any of the organization’s events, or by stating you won’t serve the type of animals your shelter cares for. Finally, remind everyone that it is an organization’s policy (not dictating what an individual may choose to eat when not at the events or functions) – and it teaches all of us that even one animal friendly meal is impactful.
If any organization deserves Animal Places’ Shelter of the Month Award, it’s certainly the Marin Humane Society.
Congrats, Cindy, Nancy and the rest of the MHS team! Thank you for going the distance to help animals in need and for assisting other organizations to incorporate more advocacy into their line of work, including offering more plant-based foods at their functions.
To learn more about Marin Humane Society, visit them online: www.marinhumanesociety.org.