Three years together
I had nothing to offer Beth, when she came into my life, but “blood, toil, tears, and sweat,” as Winston Churchill told his cabinet during the Nazi blitz of London.
Added Churchill as an aside, “Poor people. They trust me, and I can give them nothing but disaster for quite a long time.”
What did I have to give Beth except blood, toil, tears, sweat, and disaster, I thought to myself at our first meeting, at a humane conference where she introduced herself, besides a newly printed business card for ANIMALS 24-7, which I then neglected to give her?
“Stop stuffing your gob!”
ANIMALS 24-7, at the time, nearly three years ago, was just a newly launched humane news web site and a bank balance approaching zero. I was bunking for the conference at an old hotel ten miles away, with only cold running water, grabbing my meals at a nearby Waffle House.
Beth, then a vet tech, had resigned her job rather than be complicit in rehoming a dog she believed to be dangerous. I had recommended in a Facebook message that she should visit the conference to check the job listings posted on a bulletin board in the foyer.
But I was still in the Waffle House, twenty minutes away, when Beth called to say she was there.
“Stop stuffing your gob and go meet the love of your life,” said the crusty old cashier, taking the credit card I hoped I could pay off soon.
Beth would not let me fail
Ten miles and twenty minutes later, I was still rattled when Beth walked up to me in the foyer, her smile lighting the entire hall.
My first awkward remark to Beth, trying to start a conversation, instead hurt her feelings so badly, with no ill intent meant, that as she put it later, “I gave him 15 minutes of my time and then ran like hell.”
But Beth would not let me fail.
Two weeks later I mentioned meeting Beth in a Facebook posting. She sent her telephone number, which I had forgotten my cell phone had captured already, and I lost no time calling.
Unfortunately, we got off on a tangent having to do with bat rabies. About all I remember of the conversation with any clarity was explaining how bat feces can aerosolize the rabies virus, so inhalation or ingestion of bat feces should therefore be avoided.
Afterward I thought I had convinced Beth that I must be bat-@#$% crazy.
Somehow we ended up talking for hours every night. I don’t know how often I again hurt Beth’s feelings, stumbling through explanations of the difficult passages in our lives, but she never hung up on me.
Though superficially our lives had been very different, our major life experiences had been much the same.
Beth had recently euthanized a pit bull she had raised from puppyhood, loved, rearranged her life around, and still cries when she remembers, because he had nonetheless grown up to be dangerous toward all other animals and humans. Beth had then walked away from her job, under duress, over the behavior of another dog, a suspected wolf hybrid.
I had begun the process of founding ANIMALS 24-7 at about the same time, walking away under similar duress from my work and livelihood of 22 years as editor of a humane newspaper, rather than knowingly publish falsehoods.
I had learned that an animal sacrifice in Nepal billed by the promoters and decried as such by much of the humane community, including my former employer, was actually more of a scam, in which the organizers sold the same animals over and over again to poor and mostly illiterate devotees. Dozens of times more animals were claimed to have been sacrificed than actually existed.
I had also learned that a then-prominent campaigner who was endorsed by my former employers, who was ostensibly opposed to the dog and cat meat trade, was doing far more to harm others’ campaigns than to help advance the cause.
The time had come, for the third time in my 48 years of doing investigative news reporting on behalf of animals and the earth, to return to my roots and start all over again. And now Beth offered to join me!
Still nothing to offer
And she did, first giving to her adult children all her possessions except her dog, three cats, and whatever else she could take with her as airline carry-on.
And I still had nothing to offer Beth but blood, toil, tears, sweat, and disaster. If I had any illusions that anything I had ever done before meant anything to her, as an aura of status or promise or prominence, those illusions evaporated upon discovering that all she knew of my past work as a journalist were Facebook allegations by others that I had been fired.
Assembling our team
Beth had assessed and befriended me, I came to learn, much as she assesses and befriends animals, including Sydney the Seal, who often appears just offshore at a nearby beach to do a tail-flip or two for her; Priscilla Ferret, recently found frantically running around a waterfront parking lot at dusk, after having apparently been dumped; and Ollie the severely malnourished great horned owl, whom Beth plucked out of the surf and took to a veterinary rehabilitator.
Among them, a seal, a ferret, and a great horned owl could be said to be world-class aids to extending our vision at sea, on land, and in the air.
Soon after Beth joined me, infusing her abilities and know-how into ANIMALS 24-7, as photographer, collage artist, and former police officer, animal control officer, and school teacher before becoming a vet tech, our readership doubled, then kept on climbing, to well over 2,000 readers per day.
ANIMALS 24-7 is now a multi-talented team, investigating and exposing humane issues worldwide.
But mention must be made of you, too.
Without you, our dedicated readers and donors, who care enough about animals to always want the inside scoop on how best to help them, there would be no need for ANIMALS 24-7.
Our team is the nucleus of a partnership that includes you, too, generously chipping in to keep us on the job, peering into the deep, dark, and murky places like a seal, ferret, or great horned owl.
You feed us, keeping us diving, ferreting, and finding out who.
The first ante
My own contribution, taking the chance that enough readers and donors want what ANIMALS 24-7 does to make it possible, was just the first ante.
Beth matched and raised it. Now your donations keep our work going.
No one else could or would. The big animal charities and foundations mostly have their own turf to protect. And of course we do not take a cent from anyone who injures or exploits animals.
ANIMALS 24-7 exists through your appreciation, kindness, and contributions. Please help us, as we enter our fourth year, with the most generous donation you can make––$25, $50, $100, $500, $1,000 or even more.
We commit our blood, toil, tears, and sweat to exposing, mitigating, and preventing the many disasters that befall animals and those who love and try to help them. We need your help to keep us on the job, 24-7.
P.S. –– Sydney, Priscilla, and Ollie would join us in thanking you for your generous commitment of $25, $50, $100, $500, $1,000 or more, if they could.