Monday, July 15, 2013

Blog the Change for Animals: My Friends Liz Mugavero & Kim Fleck


Blog the Change

For this month's Blog the Change for Animals, I asked two of the most inspiring women I know, Liz Mugavero (author of the Pawsitively Organic Mystery series) and Kim Fleck to write about their lives devoted to rescuing animals.

Liz: When I was in my early twenties, my mother called me at work one day and told me about a litter of kittens abandoned on the side of the road. She called me because she knew I loved animals. Despite that love, I was clueless. But I knew I wanted to help. So I drove to her house and dug in the bushes until I got all the kittens. She had already adopted one to her neighbor, so there were three left. Easy breezy, I thought. Call a local no-kill shelter, tell them the story and bam! They’d be waiting at the door with open arms in anticipation of these adorable little faces.

Told you I was clueless.

I called a few area shelters. The story was the same - they were full; sorry, it’s kitten season; we’re not open to intakes. Some were nicer about it than others, but it didn’t help me. I still had three babies I didn’t know what to do with.

Without a lot of options, I found a semi-solution. I gave one of the kittens to a friend who worked at Petco and took the other two home. I thought I might still attempt to find a shelter for one of them and keep the other, since I already had two cats.

That never happened. Pumpkin and Gypsy are now 11, and they are wonderful cats. Pumpkin takes showers every day and purrs every waking minute. Gypsy is a big muffin who loves everyone. I couldn’t imagine life without them, and I certainly couldn’t imagine how anyone could have thrown them on the side of the road like trash.

That’s when I decided to volunteer. I needed to understand why the shelters were so full, why kittens were being turned away. I wanted to help abandoned cats and kittens find new homes. I wanted to make a difference. That was 10 years ago. Since then, helping animals has been a mission.



Kim: I look into an animals eyes and I feel a connection I can’t explain, but I know in my heart animal knows exactly how I feel. This connection has been at the core of my being since I was little. I would spend a great deal of time in my dog Frisky’s doghouse petting him, hugging him and telling him my deepest secrets. At my grandmother’s, I would take off to the neighbor’s with all the ferals and community cats and sit with them for hours. I was content. I was at my happiest just being in their presence. But many of them looked sick, hungry and helpless. I knew someday I would be the person who would help.

As a kid, I would tag along on my older brother’s bow and arrow hunts and pretend to want to carry his quiver; when he tried to shoot the chipmunks or squirrels I would instead screw up his shot. But the animals lived. I coddled the hurt chickadee in my jacket and drove him to a wildlife center, hid the stray dog in my dorm room, fed the cats outside my apartments and donated to all the rescues I could. I became a case manager for at-risk youth, an art teacher and a special education teacher. I taught children about humane education, spay/neuter and the link between animal, domestic, child and elder abuse. I volunteered and fostered for many animal shelters and took my students to volunteer. I worked with a tough population of middle- and high-school students, some gang involved and all with various emotional, behavioral and learning concerns. The connection between children who feel abandoned and animals who are abandoned is unbelievable. I get chills thinking about it now and smile whenever I think of those moments with those kids. 



Liz: There have been so many animals along the way that we’ve helped, I’ve lost count. We’ve participated in feral cat clinics, TNR projects, legislative efforts, petitions, foster care, adoption counseling, and even visited Best Friends Animal Society for a vacation spent volunteering. Today we focus on the animals from Brooklyn and Manhattan in urgent need of homes.

Kim: I have a soft spot for feral cats, dogs from the south and senior animals, and a strong desire to see our nation become no-kill.

Liz: We have so many happy - and sad - stories, and lost friends we will always remember. For me, it’s Red, the flame-point Siamese we rescued. Abandoned as seniors with his deaf friend, we took them in. Red immediately decided I was his person. I lost him after eight short months to a blood clot in his heart. I still have his collar in my office.

Kim: My cat TC, a feral colony rescue, saved me when he walked into my carrier. He smiled all the way home. He pushed his paw out into the palm of my right hand and I held it. We spent almost eight years together. Sadly, on Feb 1, 2011 I lost him to lymphoma. This is why I am so heavily committed to rescue: I want all the TCs and other animals to have wonderful lives where they are respected, loved, and cherished for the amazing beings that they are. I want a world that will have so much compassion that it will stomp out cruelty and ignorance. Helping animals and those who love them will always be at the top of our agenda.

Kim and Liz: We’ve also become more involved in dog rescue. We adopted three South Carolina dogs in the past three years. Shaggy, the schnoodle, is on track to become a therapy dog. Don’t worry - we’re still helping cats too!


We think it would be great if everyone got involved - give a few hours a month to a local shelter, or simply learn more about spay/neuter and why it’s important. It can make all the difference to an animal. 

22 comments:

  1. We ended up with our dog Tino though a similar story - he was abandoned in a park (with his brother Bernie) - oh, we'll just keep him a few days to clean him up and then find a home or a rescue. Turns out they had distemper - so who was going to take them then! No one...Bernie didn't survive the distemper, but Tino lived with us for almost 14 more years and passed just a few years ago. Best laid plans sometimes have a way of turning upside down.

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    1. Everything happens for a reason :) Our lives are so much better for having these babies, aren't they? xo

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    2. Both these dogs were lucky to have found you even if Bernie was only with you a short period of time. Tino was no doubt grateful to have found such a wonderful family. xo

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  2. What a wonderful Blog the Change post! There are so many "small" ways people can get involved. I think a lot of folks think you have to volunteer at a shelter and say "I can't do that." Fostering, educating kids, getting involved in a spay/neuter program, and so many more that really make a huge difference.

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    1. Absolutely, Sue! We couldn't agree more!

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    2. Sue I am with you 100%! Humane Education is so VERY important and in my opinion should be taught in every school at every grade level. Character education tied into Humane Education is very easily done and can be implemented into any school curriculum. Fostering is so rewarding and saves so many lives! People can even get a S/N license plate to help with the efforts. Being an example of animal advocacy and educating people is a HUGE way to help. Thanks you for your comment. =)

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  3. What a wonderful post. Thank you for sharing.

    The Paw Relations

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  4. We are so glad that there are peeps in the world like Miss Liz and Miss Kim!

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    1. Thank you so much - we are honored that you think so!

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    2. Aww thanks Island Cats that means a lot xo

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  5. Loved meeting Liz and Kim. I think a lot of us can relate to their feelings of connection with animals.

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    1. Thanks, Pamela! So glad to meet other animal lovers!

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    2. Thanks Pamela, connecting with other animal lovers is what makes all these wonderful efforts and rescues come to fruition.

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  6. Great role models. We foster one dog at a time. It may not seem like a lot but does make a difference to that one dog.

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    1. Thank you! And it absolutely makes a difference! Thank you for what you do :) xo

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    2. If everyone opened their heart and home to ONE dog or cat the USA would have "no more homeless pets" as they say =) What you do matters not only to that dog but to society as a whole. Not to mention you are an example to others of what they could be doing to help as well. Thank you for all you are doing. xo

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  7. Thanks Tails from the Foster Kittens =)

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  8. What beautiful thoughts! Thanks so much for sharing...I'm kicking myself for forgetting about Blog for Change...I used to participate with my personal blog which I gave up after I realized that my "new" book blog took up too much time!

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  9. How wonderful to meet you, Liz and Kim, and how awesome you both are! We're thrilled to have the honor of animal-friendly people such as yourselves be a part of our community.

    Thank you for blogging - and being - the change for animals!
    KimT
    www.btc4animals.com
    http://cindylusmuse.blogspot.com

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