In my 8 years with Animal Balance, I have been blessed with the opportunity to travel to some pretty far flung places. I’ve taken more than one “once in a lifetime” trip and seen my fair share of gorgeous island landscapes while working to bring community-based sterilization to areas that are in desperate need. It has been exciting and rewarding knowing that lives have been saved and improved because of the hard work that we have put in on islands around the world.
But the project that has me most excited these days doesn’t require a passport, or even a flight on an airplane for me, although there are still a few palm trees.
Earlier this year, AB launched a new endeavor, AB USA. Our first project was planned for South Texas, at Palm Valley Animal Center, a quick 4 ½ hour drive south from my home in Austin, as opposed to the typical planes, trains and boats situation that campaigns have required in the past. It might seem like an odd shift, but it has been the most rewarding and one of my favorite AB campaigns to date.
A lot of people have asked why we decided to make this move to working on the mainland. The answer is simple…need.
Although I love travel, and AB has no intention of giving up its international roots, the fact is that there was a massive need for spay/neuter in areas close to home that I knew we could help with. Working in my own backyard has made me realize that the experience that AB brings to the table is universal and can make a huge and immediate impact on mainland areas in need as well as on islands. Our creativity, ingenuity, and positivity are really good at making things happen in areas where resources are scarce, which is not something that is limited to remote archipelagos.
Since our first campaign in the Rio Grande Valley, working with Palm Valley Animal Center, Laurie P. Andrews PAWS Shelter, and Harlingen Humane Society, Animal Balance has helped spay/neuter more than 1,000 cats and dogs, and we have no intention of slowing down. In fact, with each trip to the area our family grows a little bit more and the spark of social change gets closer to igniting a true fire. Knowing that this is happening in my home state gives me the real warm fuzzies.
Getting to know the community and the animals in the RGV has been an incredibly fulfilling experience. Knowing that the work that we are doing has directly saved the lives of animals that might have otherwise languished in the shelter has been nothing short of amazing. We cried real tears when we got the news that PVAC was able to bring 120 dogs to a mega adoption event in Houston because they had been recently spayed/neutered by Animal Balance. We are watching the system unclog before our eyes.
Partnering with the shelters and Best Friends Animal Society to bring sustainable change to the area is something that I am incredibly proud of. This work has never been about traveling to exotic locations (although it’s a perk that I don’t hate,) but about the change that we bring with us wherever we go. Helping out on my home turf provides me with a different perspective and is a good reminder that we don’t have to travel the world to change the world. Global change can happen anywhere, even in your own backyard.