20 September 2013 by Published in: Uncategorized 45 comments

Where to begin? Probably at the beginning. Okay. Here goes.

I recently decided to give away money.

I know. I’m a moron. Or drunk again. Whatever. Don’t be a hater.

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What I’ve started doing, besides donating to the local no-kill animal shelter here in Mexico, is donating via the web to try to help save animals that are on death row. They’re on the TBK lists – To Be Killed, at shelters across America, due to overcrowding in the facilities. The only way to make more space is to get rid of the current crop. The stories are always heartbreaking and usually involve mistreatment by humans. Callous owners that leave the animals behind when they move. That abuse them. That raise them to torture them. Or that discard the poor things because owning a pet seemed like a fun idea, and then life got in the way and it was inconvenient. These animals haven’t done anything wrong. They’re victims of circumstance.

And they deserve better than that. We as a species should treat them better. We too often fail them, for which there’s no excuse.

As humans, our greatness isn’t measured by our achievements. It’s measured by our compassion. In that regard, we’re lacking. Our world has virtually unimaginable riches at every turn, and yet for want of a few bucks, every day, innocent animals are killed because there’s not enough cash to support them for a while longer, or not enough spaces free to keep them alive.

I decided that since I’ve been extremely fortunate with my book business, I want to allocate some cash where it will do some good. I’m not doing some gimmick like pledging some of the income from my dog book to charity. I already do that, and when it doesn’t sell much, I reach into my pocket and make up the difference. No, I’m committing to giving away thousands of dollars every year, which is a drop in the bucket in terms of what’s necessary, but which, if I can serve as inspiration to anyone, can serve as a model.

I live in Mexico. A country with hardship. Many of the people here live brutal lives in abject poverty, working 12 hour days to barely survive. You can imagine what the animals go through.

Don’t get me wrong. I also donate to human charities. But it’s the animals I feel sorriest for.

I keep encountering this apathy among my expat friends here that annoys the hell out of me: that it’s too big a problem for one person to make a difference. That’s bullshit. One person can always make a difference. It depends on how committed they are. I’ve rescued 15 animals since living here. I made a difference to those 15 lives.

That apathy is a function of wanting to appear to care, but not actually exert the effort to do anything. As is the whole, “I’ll pray for them” bit. Great. You pray for them. How about skipping your $5 frappucino today and pledging to keep an animal from being murdered? Knock off the pretending-to-care BS where you act like offering your positive thinking is doing something. It isn’t. It’s a cop out. It’s what people who don’t actually want to act do so they can pretend that they’re doing something, while actually doing squat.

Act. Don’t ruminate or call upon a higher power. Adopt an animal. If you can’t, peel off a few dollars from your wad and do the right thing: sponsor an animal on the TBK list. That $5 or $10 isn’t going to kill you, but it could stop a tragedy from happening – a tragedy that takes place countless times every day, because it’s a crime to murder a two year old, but an animal with the awareness of a two year old’s fair game.

We should be ashamed that’s the best we can do. I find it ironic that I’m sending money from Mexico to the U.S. to save dogs and cats there. But I am. As well as supporting the shelters here. It’s a global problem that we need to address locally – one animal at a time. You can’t save them all, but if you commit to saving one, your chances of success skyrocket.

I know it’s hard out there. Everyone’s struggling. Everyone’s got their reason they can’t do anything right now. All I ask is that you make a decision to be part of the solution, dig deep, and do something besides project your empathy via the astral plane.

I recently joined a Facebook group I’d like you to look at, and if possible, join and share – the sharing costs nothing, but it can highlight an animal’s tragic plight and possibly find others who are willing to do something. It’s worth spending some time at, if only to raise awareness of the countless spirits being extinguished daily by a system that can’t or won’t do better.

For once I’m not going to ask you to buy my books. Here’s my proposal: instead of buying one, go pledge that $5 to subsidizing one of the suffering, scared animals on that list. I’ll get over it. Hell, if it’s that big a deal, make the pledge, send me an email with PLEDGE in the subject line at [email protected] and evidence that you made a donation, and I’ll send you a coupon for a free book of your choice. Because the animals need the money more than I do, and it’s for a good cause. I’ll keep doing this as long as you keep pledging. I’m completely serious. I’d rather see my sales decline by 50% and know that money went to helping animals with no voice than pocket the cash myself and squander it on tequila or food or whatnot. So step up. There’s really no excuse not to.

Bless you if you do. Trust me, you’ll be glad you did – there’s no better feeling than making a difference. And if God’s a dog or cat, you’re into heaven like a Kardashian at an after-hours club. If for whatever reason you don’t, consider that when you’re on your death bed, praying for salvation or pity or a little bit of forgiveness, that you had the chance to do something, to save a creature yourself, and you chose not to. Let’s see how that plays. Between you and me, I don’t like your odds.

Just saying.

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Comments

  1. Fri 20th Sep 2013 at 8:44 pm

    Russell,

    There are reasons I love you like a brother and this is definitely one of them. Our girls, Krystalle and Midnight, were abandoned beasts, Krystalle, living in a cage, Midnight, tossed to a vet for death row, a one pound mongrel of a cat destined to to never grow any bigger for her life. Little brat is now eleven pounds of greased lightning at seven years of age and brings joy to our lives daily, regardless of the other crap we deal with. Expect tweets, FB page shares and some of my hard earned bucks.

    Reply
    • Russell Blake  –  Fri 20th Sep 2013 at 9:27 pm

      Good for you. No point in doing well on the journey if you don’t stop to help. We can do worse than being part of the solution, such as it is.

      Reply
  2. Fri 20th Sep 2013 at 8:54 pm

    Thanks for the great post. This is an important issue and I wish more people would do something to help animals.

    God bless,

    Ethan

    Reply
    • Russell Blake  –  Fri 20th Sep 2013 at 9:29 pm

      It’s why in my own small way I want to try to raise awareness of this issue. It’s ongoing, and one of those uncomfortable realities most people would like to ignore. I don’t think killing helpless dogs and cats should be ignored. I don’t have a solution, but for a few dogs or cats, I do. So those are the ones I’ll concentrate on. If everyone does the same, then more will be saved. And that can’t be a bad thing.

      Reply
  3. Fri 20th Sep 2013 at 9:49 pm

    Well said, dude. Couldn’t agree more.

    Reply
  4. yoon
    Fri 20th Sep 2013 at 10:17 pm

    As you know, this is the reason I decided you’re stalk-worthy – the fact that you adopted from a shelter and you foster and you are pro-rescue. It’s very disheartening that this day and age, civilized societies systematically destroy en masse the lives of fellow creatures, the very ones that we domesticated and made our companions, because we are fickle, selfish and plain stupid. And I love you forever for throwing your hardware money towards helping them and taking time off your busy schedule of having to write 10K words a day to raise awareness.

    Reply
    • Russell Blake  –  Fri 20th Sep 2013 at 11:27 pm

      I’ll confess I’m now behind where I should be. I got sucked into this over the last week, and it just infuriates me. I wish I was rich, and I mean Bill Gates rich, so I could set up a foundation and mitigate this horror, and maybe shame my rich friends into also putting up or shutting up. The truth is that this is a money issue, for the most part. It’s a societal issue at heart, but pragmatically, a financial one first. We simply don’t feel that allocating resources to care for our pets is as important as setting up yet another massive bureaucracy and funding it to do basically nothing but hire more incompetents to take away our freedoms. So the dogs and cats suffer so more corn subsidies can be bled out of a budget bloated by pork, or trillions can go to bombing other countries to keep their citizens “safe” while ensuring that their oil doesn’t flood the market and drive down Chevron’s profits.

      To say I get disgusted sometimes is an understatement. Now back to writing…

      Reply
      • yoon  –  Sat 21st Sep 2013 at 12:30 am

        WTF is hardware money? I’m sure I meant something else. But pretty decent on the whole, since I thought a lot more words would have been autocorrected. Anyways, if more dogs/cats are left allowed to breed or to be bred than people want, unwanted pet population problem is not likely to go away. I’m an advocate of SNR programs for cats and would donate a small amount to organizations providing free or low cost spay/neuter programs, mobile spay/neuter clinics. And don’t get me started on backyard breeders and puppy mills and people who just need to have that breed of dog right this minute. Now look what you did. Got me all upset and riled up. I hate you.

        Reply
        • Russell Blake  –  Sat 21st Sep 2013 at 12:37 am

          That’s why I post. To personally egg you on and make you drink. Go ahead. Blame it on me. Blame it all on me.

          Hardware money indeed.

          Reply
          • yoon  –  Sat 21st Sep 2013 at 12:57 am

            I was not drinking! (I’m lying.) But thanks for taking all the blame. ‘Preciate it.

  5. cinisajoy
    Fri 20th Sep 2013 at 10:50 pm

    Joined the group. I also shared one of the dogs. Thanks for doing this Russell.

    Reply
    • Russell Blake  –  Fri 20th Sep 2013 at 11:28 pm

      Good for you. It’s heartbreaking to watch day after day, but so’s most of reality. No need to thank me.

      Reply
  6. Fri 20th Sep 2013 at 11:42 pm

    Hi Russell,
    You voiced my sentiments exactly! I remember reading one person on fb say, “As if one person can make a difference via Change” (or whatever organization). But, exactly what you said, “We do make a difference for each animal that we help.” I don’t bring in very much money as an author yet but I do belong to many animal rescue groups. It’s so encouraging to hear you egg people to action!

    Reply
    • Russell Blake  –  Fri 20th Sep 2013 at 11:52 pm

      I’ve been as guilty of ambivalence as any. But I recognize the error of that position. Everyone’s waiting around for someone else to do the heavy lifting. And nowadays, we have hosts of people doing nothing who act as though their “offering prayers” means anything. It infuriates me. Just say, “I’m lazy, fat and selfish, so I’m not going to forgo whatever I’m doing and sacrifice anything to act,” instead of doing that whole shuck and jive. I’m pretty sure that whatever deity created those animals is aware they’re going to be murdered tomorrow. Because he/she/it’s all knowing. So back to you as an individual have to do something, not just pretend shock and horror and then do nothing while “wishing” things were different or someone else does something to save the animal’s life. I’m a big believer in put up or shut up. If I’m on death row, I don’t need your positive thoughts. I need you and some friends to cough up enough money so that I’m attractive to someone to rescue or foster. Period.

      Grrrrr. Sorry. I just get so angry with this situation.

      I’m trying to raise awareness and get people to see that we are part of the solution for as many of the animals we choose to be solutions for. So we need to chose to act, not chose to tsk tsk the system and go buy more twinkies to wolf down or a bigger television.

      Reply
  7. Sat 21st Sep 2013 at 12:24 am

    Sometimes I think we’re the same person we think so much alike. A high paw to my brother from another country. 🙂
    Been involved with these groups for a long time, and just donated to two kitties on the TBK list this week. Only donated $5.00 each, cause I haven’t been as successful yet with my book biz, but it was something. Feels great to know they made it. Hope to give more in the future when I’m selling a Gazillion books.
    Stay awesome Russell. Animals need more friends like you!

    Reply
    • Russell Blake  –  Sat 21st Sep 2013 at 12:38 am

      Hey, you made a difference in those two cats’ lives. That’s how this works. Animal by animal. Save by save.

      Reply
  8. Ken
    Sat 21st Sep 2013 at 6:23 am

    Years ago, while living in Las Vegas, I and someone I was with at the time adopted a female greyhound that had been found wandering the streets of L.A. with a sturdy male by her side. The tattoos on their ears identified them as racing hounds from a track in Caliente, Mexico. The owners refused to take them back due to transportation costs. It was theorized that they were stolen for breeding purposes, but for some reason were later dumped. We adopted Kaley and had her for twelve years. Great animal —loving, sweet, and gentle. She was actually the first greyhound adopted out by the newly formed GPA chapter there. Shelters are a good place to find excellent animals. Keep up the great work. And thanks for the awesome post.

    Reply
    • Russell Blake  –  Sat 21st Sep 2013 at 12:02 pm

      A wonderful post. Shelter dogs and rescues are usually great. They seem to understand they were saved, and appreciate you the more for it. So many deserving and desperate animals looking for homes. A sad state of affairs. I will say that the situation here has gotten better due to a spay and neutering push by the shelter. They go into the barrio every quarter and do free procedures, as well as have regular days to do them at the shelter. It’s one of the reasons I support them. That, and they’re no kill. But keeping all those animals around costs, and they survive on only donations, so it’s a worthwhile cause.

      Reply
  9. Sat 21st Sep 2013 at 10:26 am

    The rescue world is a better place, thanks to people like you. At the present we have 9 rescues, 2 horses, 4 llamas, 2 dogs, 1 cat. And we also foster whenever we are needed. As you said so well animal by animal we hope to make a difference! One thing is certain, I will definitely keep on buying your books so that you keep on doing great deeds in Mexico!!! Take care

    Reply
    • Russell Blake  –  Sat 21st Sep 2013 at 11:58 am

      Thanks for the support. I just wish I was stinking rich so I could do more. Ah, well. If there was ever a reason to wish for riches, that’s not a bad one…

      Reply
  10. Sat 21st Sep 2013 at 6:03 pm

    Thank you Russell.

    Reply
  11. Sat 21st Sep 2013 at 8:09 pm

    OK, ya bastard, you guilt-tripped me into it (I would pray for you but I suspect it’s a lost cause :)). However, I checked out the FaceBook page and didn’t see any direct links for donations. So, how about a link to where you think it would do the most good?

    I’m also passing the link to this post along to my good friend Sharon, who recently retired here in TN to dedicate herself to the same cause. She’s got (best I remember), something like 19 rescues now. She basically built a new house to accommodate them. She wrote a pretty inspirational book about her experiences. All of the sales proceeds go to the cause, of course.

    http://www.amazon.com/Living-Rescues-Lessons-Inspirations-ebook/dp/B006O1XH2M/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1379807870&sr=1-1&keywords=Sharon+Langford

    You’re both much better folks that me. I haven’t had a dog since our beagle of 17 years died a few years back. However, I will open my wallet, so post the link already.

    Reply
    • Russell Blake  –  Sat 21st Sep 2013 at 8:46 pm

      I just donated twenty bucks to these two pups. Just babies. They deserve a fighting chance. Sonny & Cher.

      https://fundrazr.com/campaigns/ebJF6?utm_campaign=donation-thankyou&utm_medium=email&utm_source=09-2013

      Reply
      • R.E. McDermott  –  Sat 21st Sep 2013 at 9:52 pm

        Done! Thanks for the link.

        Reply
        • yoon  –  Sun 22nd Sep 2013 at 3:42 pm

          Any of you used paypal? Not working for me.

          Reply
          • R.E. McDermott  –  Sun 22nd Sep 2013 at 4:59 pm

            Yoon,

            You might be having the same problem I had initially. I was clicking on the PayPal icon in the bottom border, but it didn’t seem to be a clickable link. Then I realized I had to hit the big “Give” button first, where upon I was taken right to PayPal. I felt rather dumb after I figured out my mistake and hate to admit this publicly, so I’m revealing my ineptitude only for the sake of a good cause. 🙂

          • yoon  –  Sun 22nd Sep 2013 at 5:08 pm

            Hahaha. Thank you, but I’m having a different problem. I get to the point where I get the pop-up window that connects to paypal, it tells me it’s loading information, but then the window becomes blank and remains blank. I’ve been trying since yesterday for a dozen times, with the same result.

  12. Sat 21st Sep 2013 at 8:24 pm

    Thanks for a wonderful post. I tweeted it and shared it on my Facebook page.as well.

    Also, I’m a great fan of your writing!

    Pam

    Reply
    • Russell Blake  –  Sat 21st Sep 2013 at 8:47 pm

      Thanks Pam. Glad you like the scribbling. And thanks for sharing and tweeting. You rock.

      Reply
  13. Sun 22nd Sep 2013 at 11:55 pm

    I definitely shared it! A wise man said that we can’t save them all, but we sure can make a difference for some of them! We’ve adopted three dogs from the shelter, one of which was so well trained that it blew me away that she ever came to be at a shelter ready to be killed. Sometimes I’d look at her, thinking how close she came, and would just bust out crying. She’d been abandoned by two different owners, and yet she was so well trained and gentle, that even babies could be around her. What’s wrong with people?

    Reply
    • Russell Blake  –  Mon 23rd Sep 2013 at 12:41 am

      Thanks for sharing this post. Hopefully it inspires people to do what they can. It’s a tragic circumstance, and while money is certainly not the solution to everything, it can be the solution to some problems. Dogs that have sponsorship are more attractive for rescues to take on. I’m donating however much I can to save as many animals as I can, and will continue to do so as long as my good fortune lasts. So many deserving pooches and kitties, it’s just heartbreaking. I’m not going to beat this to death, but I’ll update folks regularly on how things are going.

      Reply
  14. Michele
    Tue 24th Sep 2013 at 8:56 am

    Thanks for being one of the wonderful people that care about animals. I recently adopted a rescue dog and am so happy I did. He is a fantastic little guy that just needed a chance. If anyone is thinking of getting a pet, please check the shelters before the pet stores.

    Reply
  15. Wed 25th Sep 2013 at 9:00 am

    Thanks for this post, Russell. My wife and I give of our time and money (in gas) working with several rescue groups in our area. We typically spend 1-2 weekends a month transporting dogs from shelters to foster homes and adopting families. We work with an amazing network of transporters and it’s very rewarding to know we’re helping good dogs find forever homes where they will be loved and cared for.

    We also have three dogs and five cats – all rescues. Our house is full of love…and fur!

    Write on!
    Merrill

    Reply
  16. Wed 25th Sep 2013 at 12:15 pm

    RB-
    Echoing your thoughts…here is a sad tale out of Boston. The good news is there is outrage and lots of giving in response. http://www.bostonmagazine.com/news/blog/2013/09/22/puppy-doe-quincy-facebook-group-reward/
    W4$

    Reply
    • Russell Blake  –  Wed 25th Sep 2013 at 12:42 pm

      My solution would be to return the favor in kind for the sadistic sick f*ck that did this. Lacerate his eyes, break his bones and pull them apart, crush his skull, and then throw him onto a refuse heap to suffer for a few days before ultimately dying. I’d sign up for dragging him through cactus and broken glass for a few miles after that’s all done. If I sound cruel or inhuman, I guess I am. I don’t think whoever did this should get counseling or a second chance. Eye for an eye, bone for a bone.

      Reply
  17. Sat 28th Sep 2013 at 6:12 am

    I’m in, Russell—and I might have some book money lying around that can help 🙂

    Reply
    • Russell Blake  –  Sat 28th Sep 2013 at 11:44 am

      No better cause I can think of. Check my facebook page periodically for particularly needy cases.

      Reply
      • Steve Konkoly  –  Sat 28th Sep 2013 at 12:34 pm

        I agree. Crap, I didn’t realize we weren’t friends of Facebook. Now were really friends.

        Reply
  18. Sun 29th Sep 2013 at 12:43 pm

    Russell,

    After I just sent you a pix of my two rescue cats –and whined that I lately couldn’t click into any of your sites, I got in (Perseverance, My Dear Watson), without realizing the theme of your last article.

    When I retired to Arkansas, I “nobly” joined the BOD of our little animal shelter here. Well, within the week, I was not only writing the weekly “Paws Report,” but scooped you-know-what, trimmed claws, cleaned mites from ears and took tiny kittens home to be bottle-fed–36 in all–not at the same time. That was a lot more satisfying than stupid, endless, often contentious board meetings. However, as the “Membership Chair,” I was able to raise an astounding amount from our little community. During my “tenure,” I also totally lost my inate fear of dogs. Our community is small enough to that everyone knows me by my red Volvo (bummer for a single gal); but I know them by their adopted pets.

    In my book “Pasha, From Animal Shelter to A Sheltered Life,” I tell many stories; some are sad, but more of them have happy outcomes. And–as you know from my having featured you with “Authors and Their Angels”–I write about our beloved companions. Yes, they do deserve better. Because when the Volvo ‘et al’ fail me, they are still there.

    You really struck a chord judging from all the comments; amazing for a rascal like you–but Thank You.

    Inge

    Reply
  19. Tue 17th Jun 2014 at 2:08 pm

    Paragraph writing iss also a fun, if you be acquainted with
    after that you can write if not it is commplex to write.

    Reply

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