Debby Hartten has created a platform to educate and inform the public about opportunities in animal welfare and rescue: Generation Wags. I met Debby through PackPeople and I liked her unique ideas of getting people engaged in pet rescue. Debby is a dedicated animal lover, and the founder of several programs supporting animal rescue, including the education of children to get involved and take responsibility. Her motto is:
Her website contains tremendous information about projects, health, care and safety tips. We want to introduce her new business idea ‘Generation Wags’ to our online audience today, and share her thoughts regarding pet overpopulation and more.
How and when did your personal adventure with animal welfare begin?
My personal adventure with animal welfare began a few years ago, although I have had rescue dogs most of my adult life. As a real estate agent I incorporated rescue related efforts into my business through donations to rescues for transactions, along with a holiday drive Warm Hearts Happy Paws. WHHP will be entering its fourth year, and donation boxes are placed a number of pet supply stores and veterinary offices to gather needed items for numerous rescue groups in my area. Limited in what I could do as a realtor I started an online store Adore That Dog and other initiatives in the past year to make more strides. Generation Wags, my new e-zine, will hopefully serve as a place for dog and cat lovers to gain helpful information, along with learn about the issues along with fabulous efforts taking place nationwide to affect change. While there are so many challenges before us, it is encouraging and inspiring to learn about how many people are working daily to make a difference.
Your children’s program, WAGS kids, help kids make a change and learn about responsible pet ownership. How do you encourage children to make a change in animals’ lives?
I encourage children to get involved in helping in a variety of ways. My program Read For Rescues is a reading based program where kids get pledges for books they read (hopefully including some about pet rescues), and then use some/all of the money to donate to a rescue group they choose. While I sell a starter kit it is not required. I designed it so any child, anywhere can support any rescue. Read for Rescues is really a jumping off point for kids to get engaged in other ways from holding drives to collect blankets and toys to actually making toys for shelter pets or drawing pictures for shelter kennels, etc. Older kids can get involved with advocacy and even think about careers related to animal rights and more.
You also offer opportunities to companies to become a corporate WAGS Paw Pal. Tell us a little more about it.
My Wags Paw Pal program is a way to encourage companies to take even small steps to help support rescues. Most companies have staff who are pet owners, but most don’t give a second thought about how they can help improve the future of rescues. Companies can use this to their advantage to create team building activities such as volunteering for rescues, having donation drives in the office, adding rescue messaging to their email signatures, dedicating holiday parties to raise funds for rescues, or even have matching sustaining donations to rescues.
In general, why should people adopt from a rescue and what are the benefits?
The benefits of adopting a rescue are phenomenal! What better feeling is there than to give a loving home to animal that, through no fault of its own, is homeless. What most people don’t realize is that even if you are seeking a puppy, or a purebred, you can still find a rescue that matches what you are looking for, although you need to be patient finding the right one. And also people need to be aware that shelters and rescue groups have different adoption rules, so find one that works for you! But find one.
Can you share your thoughts on pet overpopulation in the U.S., and euthanasia?
Education is the key to getting control on overpopulation. Spay and neuter is essential, and we must find a way to get that message to communities and governmental bodies to help tackle this issue. Unfortunately, many areas where overpopulation is of the greatest concern are ones that are not finding humanitarian ways of dealing with the strays and surrendered pets. Many people don’t realize that gas chambers for example are still being used in areas to put animals to death. And that there are shelters that have one way tickets in. We can do better and we must! Euthanasia I believe is an unfortunate reality but should only be used in circumstances where an animal is dangerous and can’t be rehabilitated, or instances of injury or severe illness. It should not be a form of population control. There are regions in our nation that actually have a shortage of rescue pets for adoption. While there are issues to be overcome, we must find a way to work on a national level to get rescues in need of homes to those who are open to adopting them.
If you could give pet owners one piece of advice what would it be?
Realize that pet ownership is a big responsibility, but well worth it. Respect the life that you have taken into your home, add love and nurturing. You won’t regret it!
What is your personal goal?
To make a real difference in helping to raise awareness about the issues leading to homeless and abused pets and get people ENGAGED in creating change. Even as a lifetime dog owner I wasn’t fully aware of them myself. We need to get creative in tackling the problems. So much is being done, but so much more must take place. I believe we are seeing positive momentum of rescues groups becoming more organized and coordinated in their efforts which will go a long way.
Do you have pets of your own?
I have a rescue mixed breed dog (of course), and a purebred Pomeranian that my daughter purchased after a run of having several older rescues that had major health conditions that we had lost over time. A rescue will always be part of my life.
Links to Debby’s websites and programs:
Generation Wags – http://www.generationwags.com
Wags Marketing – http://www.wagsprandmarketing.com