I launched Mother of Dogs to bring attention to shelter animals in the United States. Its primary goals are to educate the public on the plight of these animals and to discourage breeding or buying when millions of healthy and adoptable dogs die each year waiting for homes. According to the latest statistics, seven million companion animals enter the American shelter system each year, with an astonishing 2.7 million being euthanized.
The most important thing needed to stop the suffering of these animals is to create more laws that protect them. In 2015, I became involved with Miami-Dade Animal Services and, ever since, have worked to aid them in improving the overall welfare of animals in the community. Animals showing signs of extreme neglect or abuse at their owners’ hands arrive at the Miami-Dade shelter on a daily basis. Due to the fact that there are no systems currently in place to track and punish abusers, it’s virtually impossible to prevent the behavior from happening again. We hope to change that.
Recently, I joined a team of activists—including actress Shannen Doherty—who met with city commissioners, including Miami-Dade’s Mayor Carlos A. Giménez, to push for creating an abuse registry, which would alert the public to the presence of abusers in their community and restrict offenders from activities or jobs that involve animals. Passing it will depend entirely on the support of local officials. One key element of the registry would be to prevent known animal abusers from living with or owning pets (which, all too often, live lives of suffering and end up on the streets—or in the shelter system, at taxpayers’ expense). Another would be to educate people on the link between animal and human violence. In some cases, giving increased attention to an offender can raise vigilance and help detect other offenses before it’s too late. The initial response to the idea has been overwhelming and, with any luck, the registry will transform from concept to reality in months. With so many lives on the line, there’s no time to waste.