No matter what you believe in—Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Republicanism, Scientology, or the Flying Spaghetti Monster—I’m willing to bet that you are probably in favor of animals. You may not support environmental policy. You may have stock in big oil companies. You may even think climate change is a figment of the public imagination. But when you see a puppy’s little face, a kitten’s curled up tail, a pony trotting along with a toddler on its back, you probably feel something good. There are few issues in our lives that are truly bipartisan. We seem to be able to create conflict out of even the most benign problems and yet, most of us can agree that animal cruelty is wrong. Most of us can get behind treating creatures when they’re sick or injured. I think animals really do have the power to bring people together.
World Vets is an international organization of veterinary and disaster relief programs focused on improving animal welfare and alleviating suffering. They work to educate people and communities about how to help animals. They work to prevent the spread of infectious diseases from animals to humans, and they work with livestock to help bring farmers out of poverty. This organization recognizes the power that animals have to help people understand empathy, compassion, and each other. “World vets recognizes the importance of the One Health concept in which the health of humans, animals, and their ecosystems are inextricably linked. Our programs help not only animals, but also people and the communities in which they live.”
The World Vet volunteer community is diverse. They welcome experienced veterinarians; pre-veterinary and technician students; and people with no veterinary experience. They have ongoing projects in 34 countries, offering volunteers the opportunity to travel widely while they learn about the unique challenges and rewards of hands-on animal care. I think the community development projects World Vets champion are perhaps the most fascinating. When people are living in dire situations they may not appreciate the value of the animals around them. They may see them only as food or as more mouths to feed. They may see them as pests. I think the more people can live harmoniously and symbiotically with the animals in their environments, the better chance we all have to create a sustainable world.
I also think World Vets’ disaster response programs are unique and important. They offer training programs to prepare volunteers to enter disaster zones with the goal of saving animals in peril. They were on the ground after Japan’s tsunami, Haiti’s earthquake and the dramatic flooding in Bankok, Thailand.