ANIMAL RESCUE, INC.
SHELTER OF THE MONTH
ARI is a forever home for the homeless. At any one time, the shelter houses approximately 100 dogs and several hundred cats between – most of which are available for adoption. No animal is euthanized because of medical expenses or the inconvenience of care. They promote and offer spay/neuter programs and maintain a Crisis Intervention Program which keeps the human/animal bond intact by providing assistance to the elderly, sick, and the infirm.
We recently had the opportunity to speak with Grace about food, policies, and philosophy -
How did your animal friendly menu policy come about?
As a long-time vegan and animal rights activist, it was only natural that I would introduce this policy to the Board of Directors. We had been providing vegan menu items at our events for years, but had never thought to implement an official, board-approved policy. When I approached our Board of Directors to suggest its adoption, Animal Rescue, Inc.’s Vegan Food Policy was embraced and unanimously approved!
How have your staff/volunteers/supporters taken to the veg menu policy?
Even though the majority of our staff/volunteers/supporters are not vegetarian or vegan, they understand that as an organization that occasionally rescues pigs, cows, goats, and chickens that it makes sense to for ARI to promote an animal-friendly menu at our sponsored events.
Why do you feel it’s important for shelters and rescue groups to adopt such a policy?
We think all animal lives matter. It sends a mixed signal to the public if you are helping cats and dogs while eating other animals. No one involved in animal rescue would deny cats or dogs have feelings and emotional lives of their own, so it’s a natural step to also believe farmed animals are sentient beings capable of feeling emotions as well.
Our biggest event every year is Dogs’ Day in the Park. Every year we frequently have standard cookout food , but vegan -- veggie burgers, veggie dogs, chips. This year we are hosting an event called Cabernets for Strays Celebration where we anticipate on having a catered menu of “crab” cakes, artichoke spinach dip, potato skins, cupcakes and cookies. One of our Directors Phil Staelens also cooks plant-based meals for the volunteers at our weekly spay/neuter clinics.
Is it more commonplace to find animal welfare organizations interested in this topic of green or animal-friendly food policies?
Unfortunately not, at least not around here. Many animal welfare organizations often hold horrifying events such as pig or bull roasts as fundraisers for the cats and dogs in their care.
Do you have any special anecdotes about an event attendee who may have been inspired by your event’s offerings to reconsider their own dietary choices or offerings at their own respective organizational functions?
Many people often comment on how good the food is at our events and frequently say they wish they could learn to cook vegetarian food. Phil will often spend time with those people answering all of their questions about cooking and where to buy certain ingredients.
While not an event, we recently had a couple walk into our office and pick up a piece of literature on the cruel practices of animal agriculture. This led them to watching Earthlings, and they went vegan practically overnight!
Any advice for shelter directors or event planners that may be on the fence about adopting an animal friendly menu policy?
While transitioning to a plant-based menu policy may be difficult, it’s important to keep in mind that this way of eating is better for the environment, healthier for people, and most importantly no animals were harmed! Promoting a high-quality, animal-friendly menu is a terrific way to show people that vegans don’t just eat salads or bland tofu, instead we eat a vast array of satisfying, scrumptious foods.
Animal Place has a strong adoption program of our own, particularly with the massive hen rescues we do. We’d love to showcase one animal that you’re looking to foster or adopt out and hope our supporters might be able to help find a forever home. Can you tell us about one companion animal you’re trying to place?
If you can help, please e-mail Ashley at firstname.lastname@example.org.