BarkWorld Expo is a friendly and supportive social media marketing conference for the pet industry and pet enthusiasts alike. While fresh, fun pet products were on display last October, plenty of people discussed how rescues, shelters and bloggers greatly benefit animal rescue and welfare every day.
I was honored with an invitation to speak, and my session, The Social Good: Marketing Strategies for Animal Welfare Advocates, aimed to bridge all parties by sharing my real-life experiences with global and local advocacy.
I began as a hobbyist pet blogger, like many of you, looking for ways to make my corner of the internet useful for animals in need. I’ve since experienced wonderful successes as co-founder of Be the Change for Animals, an international animal advocacy site, and Dog House Adoptions, a local rescue.
I am still a blogger who works to help organizations. And now my websites have become organizations that work with bloggers. I’ve learned through a ton of trial and a healthy share of error that, together, we can be a powerful and amplified means for persuasive, life-saving storytelling – once we learn where our pieces fit together.
And our animals’ stories don’t have to be limited by the boundaries of our own small towns. Local rescue efforts can often be funded by people around the globe… if your story packs up nicely and travels well. That’s the beauty of social media.
Below, you’ll find a video of my presentation, slides, notes, and a PDF of online resources. If you’re new to online advocacy work, or want to get involved as a blogger, these tips will get you started. If you’re a seasoned veteran, this material may offer fresh inspiration.
The Social Good: Marketing Strategies for Animal Welfare Advocatees
Spark connections with folks who can help, at home and even abroad.
Stock your toolbox with free resources to manage your campaign and increase its reach.
Download the PDF. Included is my session outline and 2 pages of helpful online resource links.
Note: Please pardon the faint sound, the fact that they put li’l ol’ me in this giant conference room where everybody sat at the back, and that I actually cried while talking about one of our awesome rescue dogs. Someday, I will get better at this.
For Prezi impaired devices, visit Slideshare for a copy.
Cheers to your success. I hope your animal cause gains gobs of support through social media!
If endangered African lions are listed as Endangered Throughout its Range under the Endangered Species Act, US importation of African lions and their parts would be banned. The United States is the world’s largest importer of commercially traded endangered African lion parts and lion trophies. This trend is only increasing.
Take a Stand for Endangered African Lions by Monday, January 28.
The picture above was my first encounter with a real snake – albeit not at a rattlesnake rodeo. We were on a family Florida trip. I felt uneasy posing with this pet, yet smiled anyway. In this moment, I learned that I could feel uneasy and safe, as long as I treated this animal with respect. It was 1977. I was 6 years old. I still remember at 42.
That a snake moves like a fish on land is utterly foreign to our human experience. Our inability to relate is what makes snakes both fascinating and unnerving. Add a rattle to that tail and we move from unnerved to fearful.
Heroism requires battling instinctual fear to perform a greater good. But we must first understand what that greater good is. Today, I ask rattlesnake rodeo hunters and festival attendees to re-examine their definition. I ask you to help them see another side.
Welcome to the Rattlesnake Rodeo
Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake courtesy Wikimedia Commons – Tad Arensmeier
The main attraction at Rattlesnake Rodeos, also known as Rattlesnake Round-Ups, are wild caught rattlesnakes displayed, killed for food, and sold to create animal products. The snakes are also drained of their venom for anti-venom serum and every other part of the snake is used for something. You’ll find these events popular in the rural Midwest and Southern United States.
When you back the lens out far enough, the rattlesnake hunt appears to be no different than responsible deer hunt or the quest for a wild caught fish. The creature lives a wild, free life until their swift end comes as humanely as possible. A cultural celebration akin to the Native Americans’ should deliver thanks to the spirits for the gift of a good hunt and human survival. This is all an act of respect, right?
Then why are a snake’s teeth ripped out with pliers while it is still alive?
Bastardization of a Celebration
In preparation for a Rattlesnake Rodeo, rattlers are either gassed out of their holes (with fumes harming turtles, small mammals and the environment) or pulled out by a metal hook – which sometimes punctures the snake’s body or head. They are then thrown into a display pit, sometimes injured but still alive, and kicked around for the sake of entertainment. But wait. There’s more.
After being frozen to slow the snake’s reflexes, teeth are pulled out and their mouths sewn shut so that people can parade around with a live Diamondback for a picture, until it dies and another is tortured in its place.
When the snakes are beheaded, their tongues still flick as their killers parade around with their heads on a stick. Why? The nerves can be responsive for hours, which means pain sensors are still active and attached to their brains.
Snake hearts are cut out to show how they still beat independent of the snake’s body.
Adding insult to deadly injury, the blood of thousands of snakes is drained into a bucket where parents teach children to reach in, giggling, so they can mark a wall with bloody hand prints.
Venom collection in the name of a good cause is rendered unusable because the collection process is not sterile.
The American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists, an international society of about 2,000 professional scientists who specialize in the biology and conservation of fishes,amphibians, and reptiles, strongly opposes traditional rattlesnake roundups. Such roundups promote overexploitation of natural populations of wildlife, unnecessary killing and inhumane treatment of individual animals, degradation of habitat, and promotion of outdated attitudes toward important elements of America’s natural heritage. Found nowhere but in the Americas, and especially diverse in the United States, the more than thirty species of rattlesnakes comprise a distinctive component of North America’s biodiversity, and one that is increasingly imperiled.
Why Do It? Big Fear Brings Big Money.
The largest Rattlesnake Round-Up event in the United States is held in Sweetwater, Texas, complete with cash prizes and trophies. Attendance is based on slaying a fearsome dragon and, according to Wikipedia, “The events often attract thousands of tourists, which can bring hundreds of thousands of dollars of revenue into small towns; the Sweetwater Round-Up’s economic impact was estimated to exceed US$5 million in 2006.”
In the following short film, Orry talks about the reality of snakes in the wild and dispels judgment rooted in quick-cash sensationalism stemming from Round-Ups calling rattlers, as Animal Planet does, “the most dangerous creatures on the planet.”
Feared as deadly and aggressive, diamondbacks are actually highly averse to human contact and only attack in defense. Most bites occur when humans taunt or try to capture or kill a rattlesnake.
Follow Orry’s advice. “Educate. Not Eradicate.” Rattlesnakes are highly important to human health. Controlling the rodent population, they are responsible for keeping human contracted disease at bay. Instances of hantavirus and plague rise in direct proportion to the absence of snakes. And, without the rattlesnakes, we will no longer have the venom used to make medications that treat diabetes, cancer, high blood pressure and blood clots. Let’s celebrate that.
ROCK a NEW Kind of Rattlesnake Rodeo!
Rather than outlaw the Rattlesnake Round-Ups, ask them to teach the importance of conservation and to share real facts. There are no-kill Round-Ups in existence. They impose catch size restrictions and require the release of captured snakes back into the wild. We need the rest to be like them, offering education that isn’t based in fear. Urge Round-Up sponsors to convert the remaining roundups into wildlife-friendly and educational festivals!
Even if snakes unnerve you, smile and sign the petition anyway. You’ll help a fellow creature live a life of dignity, something we all deserve no matter how misunderstood we are – something we should teach our children that they’ll remember for a lifetime.
This post is part of Blog the Change, an event hosted by BTC4Animals.com asking us to share a cause near and dear to our hearts. Blog, read and BE the change for animals!
Watching wild turkeys, as they comically slip and slide downhill, is more fun than staring down dead birds in your freezer. Who needs TV in these parts when you have a window? This video is worth 1 minute and 17 seconds of your time. Be sure to stick around for the surprisingly ambitious stray cat at the end!
Happy Thanksgiving Week!
Side note: We don’t have snow yet. This was shot last year. I just finally pulled the footage for edit.
Our Halloween dog’s body rocked and whimpered as nightmarish, dirt-nap fantasies tortured his brain. Vultures circled his limp shell as he screamed “I’m not dead yet!” in a horrific howl that no one but he could hear. Circling closer, the big, black birds screeched the deathly sound of hunting Pterodactyls.
Was it all a dream – or a real life nightmare?
Emmett clearly should have come to BarkWorld Expo, where Halloween is fun, not frightening.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service placed the jaguar on the US endangered species list in 1997, after urging from the Center for Biological Diversity lawsuits and grassroots organizers. Moving forward, U.S. Fish and Wildlife has now proposed to protect a few key mountain ranges along the Mexican border as “critical habitat.” While the Center for Biological Diversity calls the proposed areas vital, they also say these areas are “not nearly enough to ensure the big cat’s recovery.”
According to the Center for Biological Diversity:
The agency has omitted the best jaguar habitat north of the border – the wild Gila ecosystem of New Mexico and the adjoining Mogollon Rim of Arizona — as well as travel corridors that would allow jaguars to move freely between mountain ranges.
From Catty to Fishy
Why do you think that is? If you smell corporate favoritism, you’d be spot on. The Center for Biological Diversity goes on to say:
A foreign-owned mining corporation that wants to build the Rosemont Copper mine in the Santa Rita Mountains, southeast of Tucson, Ariz., is lobbying hard to block protections there. This open-pit mine would strip thousands of acres of all life and leave a mile-wide hole in Coronado National Forest. A jaguar was seen last year in the Santa Rita Mountains, and a photo of a jaguar tail was taken in September southeast of Tucson.
Aren’t we all just a little tired of big money overtaking the Earth’s natural treasures?