Barbara Dillbeck taught elementary school in Michigan for over 20 years and is currently the Curriculum Director of generationOn. She is an active grandmother of four and an avid animal welfare advocate.
My ‘Point of Light’ is a dear friend who has enriched my life in so many ways. She has shown me what pure joy looks like, helped relieve stress, listened carefully to all I have to say. She is compassionate, empathic, dependable, and bearded – yes, bearded.
I adopted Kayleigh two years ago from an animal shelter – or I should say she adopted me! She was literally on deaths door when I visited the local shelter. Most of the dogs barked and came to the gate of their cages when I passed by, but Kayleigh, a large adult dog, seemed to have given up hope of a rescue. She lay forlornly on an old dirty blanket and only raised her eyebrows when I spoke to her. When the shelter assistant brought her to the “Visiting Room” so I could meet her, she walked calmly up to me, put both paws on my lap, leaned into my chest and laid her head down – she had made her choice of a forever home. As soon as she walked out of the shelter with me her light began to shine and it has illuminated my life ever since.
Kayleigh gives me comfort and companionship every day and she now depends on me to provide everything she needs to survive on a daily basis and also to survive in emergency situations. Remember hearing those stories of pets being separated from their owners during Hurricane Katrina? Many pet owners had to abandon their pet family members when they went into emergency shelters. I can’t imagine how difficult that must have been for the families. Since then the Federal Government passed a law requiring communities seeking funds for disaster preparedness to include plans for family pets and service animals in their evacuation and emergency shelters. The law is called PETS Act (Pet Evacuation and Transportation Standards Act). There are special things that pets must have in order to be allowed to stay in shelters. Click here to find out more about emergency preparedness for pets.
I imagine many of you have had the same privilege of being unconditionally loved by a ‘point of light pet.’ Shelters do a wonderful job of rescuing and caring for animals but unfortunately many are short of funds and overcrowded. Five to Seven million pets are rescued by shelters every year. Shelters do receive donations but often people choose to donate to “no-kill” shelters not realizing that this puts an even greater burden on shelters that are forced to euthanize animals due to lack of funds or space. We can all acknowledge the fantastic privilege of having an animal companion by helping shelters – donating money and/or supplies and volunteering.
A way that we can also assure that our pets will be cared for in an emergency.
There are some great suggestions for animal related service on the generationOn website. Be a community action “hero” for animals this summer!
This summer you can make your mark on the world and inspire others to do the same through generationOn's Hasbro Community Action Heroes summer program! Visit communityactionheroes.generationon.org to find out more about the range of youth service projects you can get involved in, as well as the national recognition and prizes that you can win for your creativity and effort.