Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Welcome to Furry Wednesday!


Hi, guys!

Furry Wednesdays are finally here.  Allow me a short introduction before I get to the task at hand.

As you probably know by now, I am a big animal lover.  I strongly believe that all animals - wild or domestic - have the same right to live and thrive as us, humans.   There are many ways to express that love and reinforce that belief, the most powerful of which is to support animals as I make my everyday choices.  Everything we do has an effect on the people around us and our environment, and I have discovered that one of the most profound and long term way to help animals is to be aware, and to be conscientious.   What to eat, what to wear, what kind of entertainment I need, what kind of products to buy are questions that don't have simple answers, yet I prefer to vote with my wallet and invest in things that are truly good for me, and thus good for the Earth.  We all make statements with our lifestyle, mine basically being: "I will surely not perish if I don't eat this burger, in fact I might perish faster if I eat this burger, plus I really don't like the fact that a cow has itself perished to make this burger, so screw the burger and pass the salad."  In short, I do not endorse anything made at the cost of harming or killing an animal.  I like my animals alive and well, thank you very much.

Of course, in our time and age, we often unwittingly participate in the process described above, and for me, it's not always enough that I boycott circuses or refuse to buy a face cream tested on animals to put me at ease.  Therefore I sign petitions, I try to keep my peers informed by spreading animal welfare ideas, and I strive to volunteer hands on whenever chance presents itself.  Honestly, I get tempted by some extreme methods of environmental activism (especially when I see someone wearing fur on the street, and boy, ask me if I don't feel like punching them, hard), but I also want my actions to be constructive and I focus on the result instead.  Animal cruelty drives me mad, and I am not of any use when I am mad.  So I remain firm, and I keep fighting the good fight.

What's the Problem?

Where I come from, namely Bulgaria, there are a lot of serious animal rights issues, specifically with stray dogs and cats.  There are hundreds of thousands animals living on the streets, and their lives are dangerous, miserable, painful, and for the most part, very short.  Even though I live in the States now, I love my country as much as I love animals, and I want to help them.  And I can do that only if you help me. Listen:

When Bulgaria began its political and economic transition back in the early 1990's, there was a lot of confusion and hardship, and it seemed that everything fell apart - the changes affected not only the people, but also their pets.  Suddenly, dogs couldn't be taken care of, and cats were abandoned to fend for themselves.  In 25 years, thanks to this ignorant (not to mention immoral) practice of discarding unwanted animals, plus the lack of a culture of spaying and neutering, Bulgaria was populated with generations of practically feral dogs and cats.  They represent a health and physical danger to people and to each other, and almost everything out there represents a danger to them - the urban traffic, the hunger, the diseases, and certain individuals and facilities - from the officially appointed animal control inspectors who put them into a deathcamp-like "shelters", to people who purposefully poison them, shoot them, and mutilate them out of pure sadism.

Excuse me if I don't get into the discourse of how this problem isn't an animal problem at all, but a people problem, and if you ask yourselves "Why should I help someone so far away when they seem to not appreciate it or even want to be helped?!", I'll answer: 

Because puppies!!!!  And kittens!!!  

Because of furry things that just want to eat noms and be cuddled.

Guys, people surely are in fault for the Bulgarian Stray Dog situation, but people are also the ones who can fix it.  I want to fix it.  I want to feed kittens and cuddle puppies, and if you want this too, then read forward.

How to help:

I am not affiliated with any formal Animal Rescue organization - I do appreciate the work they do, but I am also wary of the bureaucracy involved.  Instead, I directly communicate with a number of volunteers who, for the lack of a better description, just go about, pick up abandoned babies, sick, hurt, and weak animals off the streets (or rescue them from the people who hurt them), take them to the vet, foster them while the animals get in a better shape, and then adopt them out, sometimes abroad, via the help of various Facebook networks for other volunteers or simply people who love animals.  This method is surprisingly effective, and although it involves a certain level of trust, it surpasses the slowness of the institutions and really saves lives.  

I aim to raise money to support these volunteers and to spread awareness.  We need the money to buy food, vaccines, and to cover vet bills, and we need awareness so that more people would pressure the government to also address the stray animal issue, and deal with it humanely.

Cutting to the chase:

There are three ways to invest in helping Bulgarian stray animals.

1. BUY A PRINT!

You can buy a print of any of my images - just browse through this blog, my Flickr, or my old personal blog's "photography" tag

Print Sizes and Pricing:

5 X 7 (Greeting Card format) - $10

8 X 10  (Standard Portrait Format) - $15

10 X 15 (Poster Format) - $20

Please note: There will be a flat shipping rate of $3.

I order these prints online, and to be cost efficient, I might put your order on hold for up to 10 days so I could bundle more prints for shipping at once.

You could also choose to buy a high quality DIGITAL COPY of any of my images, in which case you pay $15, and you can print it yourself in any size!

2. BOOK A PHOTOSHOOT!

Give me a call, and I'll stop by to take your picture.  Mini family shoots, portrait sessions, you name it - upon completion, you'll receive a CD with 10 processed digital images, and you would have contributed $50 for the cause!

Some travel cost might apply for locations outside the Bay Area.

3. DONATE!

Any amount, anytime - whatever you feel like, just click the Donate button on the top right of the front page.

You get a certificate for helping animals in need, and my endless gratitude.  I will also promote and backlink to your page here on the blog :)

100% of the proceedings go to helping animals.  I am donating my time and work as well!

BONUS: If you book my services for a regular photo session, I will donate 30% of the profits to this charity!

(Also, receipts for the purchased food, supplies, and vet bills will be available for review.)

This week we will try to raise funds for two puppies - Belcho (Whitie) and Arise.  Belcho was rescued this July after being beaten so badly he couldn't move his hind legs, and Arise was rescued earlier this Spring after being shot in the spine.  They both underwent surgeries and are in recovery, however Arise have developed pressure ulcers from being paralyzed, and Belcho needs magnetic therapy to help him gain use of his legs.  Specialized wheelchairs were donated, yet no one has yet come forward to adopt these two, and they are still being fostered, the cost of which is impossible to bear by one person.  In order to get them to an adoptable shape, we need to continue their treatment.  If you can't help financially, and if you live in Europe, please share this so we can multiply their chances of finding new homes!  Thank you!

Arise is trying out her new wheelchair

Arise at her foster home

Belcho, shortly after his surgery

Belcho in his wheelchair