We won Amazon CARES’ first Top 10 Award for 2011!

Top Ten AwardAmazon CARES, a wonderful organization that was created to protect the countless stray animals that roam the streets and villages of Peru, has awarded their first Top Ten Award of 2011 to Okey’s Promise!

According to their post,

“Amazon CARES works in severly poor areas. Sadly, domestic violence is so common as to be widely ignored. We have worked with local schools, church leaders and police to teach them to recognize signs of domestic abuse. Despite initial complacence, we have helped create an awareness that animal abuse and domestic abuse go hand in hand. This fine line is more than most people care to consider.”

Please read the full post here.

Founder Molly Mednikow has personally pledged her support to the project.

Thank you Amazon Cares for the award and for all the great work that you do in Peru. And thank you Molly for your pledge!

By the way, Molly’s donation tipped us up to $1000 in pledges so far! We still have a ways to go to the $5000 goal, but we are well on our way. Thanks to those who have pledged. Please keep working to get the word out so this project can come to fruition.


Wanna pledge your support to Okey’s Promise? Every little bit helps! Make your pledge here. Thanks for your support!

Does demonizing Michael Vick do anything productive?

A day doesn’t go by–scratch that. An hour doesn’t go by that I don’t see some post expressing outrage about Michael Vick crossing my Facebook and Twitter pages.

Since his story is one of such flagrant abuse to animals, I would be remiss not to enter into the discussion about it. My take, however, may be a bit different than most.

Let me get this straight at the outset. I am no defender of Michael Vick. His abuse of dogs was systematic torture and murder, and there is no defense for that. The animals he harmed are still suffering, and good-hearted rescuers are still laboring to meet the animals’ needs.

I don’t care much for Vick’s accomplishments on the football field either. The game holds little interest for me. Although as a counselor, I believe that people can redeem themselves, I have seen little to show me that Vick has moved towards redemption, other than getting back into the game of football.

With all that said, I wonder if we have missed opportunities to promote real change by focusing solely on our outrage at the man. By demonizing Vick and repeating the animal rights rally calls, are we really making a difference?

I ask you to consider looking deeper at what leads to the perpetuation of abuse to animals in our culture in the first place.

If you read about Vick’s youth, you will see an unpleasant story. Raised in a neighborhood rife with drug dealing and drive-by shootings as the norm, Vick had many red flags of concern in his upbringing. Neighborhoods such as his tend to have negative role models who use dogs for status and protection. Love and care for an animal would be considered “soft”.

Children who experience trauma as the result of domestic and community violence are at high risk for violent and delinquent behavior. Their tendency to perpetrate violence on animals is much greater than children who do not grow up experiencing trauma. Although Vick has not publicly acknowledged a specific trauma history, he has acknowledged using sports as a way to escape the chaos in his neighborhood.

Again, there is no excuse for his behavior, and despite his upbringing, he needs to be held accountable for his choices. Furthermore, I am making no diagnostic presumptions about the man.

My question is, what are we doing to prevent children faced with similar circumstances from taking a similar path?

What are we doing to intervene with children living in such pain that they would develop behaviors that put animals and other human beings at risk?

There are many children in our communities who are being raised in homes affected by violence and trauma. Some of these children live with fear that harm will come to a cherished pet. Some have witnessed an abuser causing direct harm to an animal. Some of these children re-enact their own pain on their own pets.

Although protocols for identification and intervention have been developed, little attention is paid in our society to the very clear connections between animal abuse, child abuse and domestic violence.

Imagine what we could do if we focused our outrage towards Vick towards something more productive–enhancing our child serving systems to be more equipped to deal with the collective concerns.

My hope is that Okey’s Promise is one way that we can redirect the energy towards positive change. Will you join me in redirecting the outrage to a more effective dialog?

We can’t do much to change Michael Vick at this stage in the game. But think of how many others whose lives we could change.

Let’s make a promise to do just that.


UPDATE: I have been challenged on my claim that Michael Vick has done little to move towards redemption. Some claim that he has made efforts though work with the Humane Society of the United States. Others question his authenticity and the Humane Society’s willingness to work with him. I make no judgment on this, as it truly is not the focus of this post. You can read the HSUS FAQ and decide for yourself. My hope, though, is that we will focus on prevention beyond the outrage with Okey’s Promise.

Since you asked…I made an FAQ page.

Yesterday’s soft launch of the fund raising though Kickstarter has met with tremendous response. As of this writing, we have already received $430 in pledges! I am ever so grateful.

It is still a long ways to $5000 (and beyond), so I appreciate your help in getting the word out to folks who might be interested in pledging. Thanks!

To answer some of the questions that have been asked about the project, I have developed a Frequently Asked Questions page. I hope this helps with any questions you might have. Please let me know if you have further questions. I can always add to the page.

Life is an Adventure!


Fund Raising Campaign is Launched via Kickstarter!

Safe Animals Safe Kids

I decided to wait to launch the fund raising for Okey’s Promise until I had a few things more confirmed. Although there are still issues to be addressed, I have enough support for the project now to ensure it’s success. So here goes!

You can make pledges to the Kickstarter Campaign here. Making a pledge is a commitment to providing funds for the project if I reach the total goal. If I do not reach my goal of $5000.00 in pledges, then nothing will happen. If I do reach my goal (I plan to exceed it!) then Amazon will automatically deduct your pledge from the payor source that you designate.

Any amount helps! As you can see on the Kickstarter page, I am offering goodies for anyone who pledges $1 or more. Of course I want some big pledges, but I value and appreciate anyone who pledges at any level. Okey and I thank you for any amount that you pledge!!!

Thanks to the efforts of the indefatigable Caroline Golon, Public Relations Guru Extraordinaire of BlogPaws and Romeo the Cat fame, I will have an extensive PR and national media campaign to publicize the project. BUT I ALSO NEED YOU!

I have found that it is the hand to hand, paw to paw, word of mouth, Facebook and Tweet networking that makes the most difference with launching projects like this. Even if you have no resources to pledge, you can help by getting the word out to others who may be interested.

Please let me know if you have any questions (I will have a FAQ on the site soon) and HELP SPREAD THE WORD!

Okey and I thank you for your support.

Public art to make our world a better place for all creatures great and small.