My good friend Vicki Cook has been a big supporter of Okey’s Promise from the very beginning, and she continues to send me links to stories with relevant content to the project’s mission. Vicki is a great writer, is involved in animal welfare initiatives, and has some professional experience working in social service organizations. So I decided to ask her to be a contributor to this blog.
Vicki was a bit surprised that I asked her, claiming that she has no expertise for the topic. In my mind, though, this is a topic that we all need to know about, and it takes no expertise to share what is general knowledge. It simply takes a passion for animals and a passion for people who are vulnerable in our world. Vicki certainly has that.
I asked Vicki to write an introduction for us. Here it is. I look forward to more great posts from her in the future.
From Vicki Cook, New Okey’s Promise Contributor
I originally met BZTAT on Twitter about two years ago when we connected through a group of animal lovers, who got together on a regular basis to have fun and raise money for animal shelters and rescue groups all around the world.
Over time our friendship moved offline and into the real world when I visited her at her studio in Canton, Ohio. BZTAT is actively involved in the growing arts community in downtown Canton, and I live in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania – just a few hours away. I took my teenaged daughter there for a weekend to meet a ‘real live’ artist and tour of the art galleries.
The following year we both attended three pet blogging conferences – BlogPaws 2010 in Columbus, Ohio; BarkWorld Expo in Atlanta, Georgia; and BlogPaws West in Denver, Colorado. In addition to writing Okey’s Promise, BZTAT has her own blog Bztat Studios and helps her spokescat Brewskie Butt with his blog Just Meowin’. I also have a pet blog called Bunny’s Blog, which is inspired by my rabbit and twitter alter ego Bunny Jean Cook and focuses on animal shelters, rescue groups, and other animal-related causes.
Most recently, BZTAT and I spent a weekend together in Cleveland, Ohio at the headquarters of Embrace Pet Insurance, home of the newest BZTAT Studios gallery. BZTAT volunteered to do a 24-hour paint-a-thon in support of the 24-hour blog-a-thon that our friend Dr. V at PawCurious and several other pet bloggers were doing that weekend.
During the paint-a-thon BZTAT and I had a conversation about the connection between animal cruelty, child abuse, and domestic violence. BZTAT commented about an article in her local paper, which addressed issues at the local animal shelter and implied that caring for abused animals is not as important as caring for abused children.
Now in addition to being a talented artist, BZTAT is also a licensed clinical therapist who works with women and children in crisis. She noted that many times when animal abuse occurs, there is a likelihood of child abuse and/or domestic violence. She also stated that the child welfare movement actually grew out of the animal welfare movement.
Shortly after this, BZTAT set up a fundraising campaign on Kickstarter to help underwrite Okey’s Promise, a public art project to increase awareness about the connection between animal cruelty, child abuse, and domestic violence, and she established this blog to further address those issues.
I also feel very strongly about these issues, and that is why I am so honored to be asked to contribute to this blog – especially because this month is Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Month.
Every April, the ASPCA urges their supporters across the country to Go Orange for Animals in honor of signing their charter in 1866. This year is their 145th anniversary, and you can help support the ASPCA’s efforts by learning how to recognize and report animal cruelty. For more information on the connection between animal cruelty and domestic violence, please click here.