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Give Your Pets Your Thanks

Wednesday, November 27, 2013 - 12:00pm
ASPCA President and CEO Matthew Bershadker

Guest blog by ASPCA President and CEO Matthew Bershadker

Thanksgiving.

When I separate those two words—"thanks" and "giving"—I can't help but think of all the animals we love, rescue and fight for, and the appreciation we owe them.

Pet owners are often portrayed as rescuers, with their newly-freed animals seen as rescued. But that exchange of generosity and appreciation goes both ways. We give to animals because what we get in return is immeasurable. We also owe them our thanks because, frankly, we've failed them in many ways, some horrifically.

Animals make us feel alive; they make us feel needed. They give us trust and affection without hesitation. They deliver complete loyalty and unconditional love, and respond to us with affection even when we sometimes fail them.

These are priceless things.

Just ask Staff Sgt. Jesse Knott, whose cat Koshka got him through the darkest days of his tour in Afghanistan, especially when a suicide bomber killed two close friends. Koshka gave Knott a reason to live. When he returned home to Oregon, Knott arranged for the cat to join him there. Just last week, Koshka was named "Cat of the Year" at our annual ASPCA Humane Awards Luncheon, and rightfully so.

Also consider our "Dog of the Year," a pit bull puppy from Georgia named Xena who was found so abused and neglected that no one expected her to survive. Xena miraculously rebounded and was adopted by the Hickey family, including eight-year-old Jonny, who suffers from Autism. Before Xena came into his life, Jonny rarely communicated with others, and only found comfort in solitary activities. But Jonny forged a miraculous connection with Xena that brought out his personality, and reconnected him to the outside world. The Hickeys could not be more thankful.

The Henry Bergh Award, named after our founder, was given to Colorado's National Mill Dog Rescue founder Theresa Strader, who's dedicated her life to saving breeding dogs destined for death in puppy mills. Kept in deplorable conditions, these dogs' sole purpose is to pump out sellable pups; when the mothers can't continue, they're typically killed. Strader's operation has rescued and placed over 8,000 puppy mill survivors since 2007, but it's Strader who sounds thankful. Animals gave her life meaning and purpose.

Could there be bigger gifts than these?

This Thanksgiving, remember there's no limit on the amount of thanks you can give. And chances are, there's someone in your home—maybe looking longingly at the platters of hot turkey (or tofurkey) on your table or just warming a corner of your bed—who deserves all of it and more.

Happy Thanksgiving from the ASPCA.

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Emma

I give thanks every day to my cats. I say, "thank you for coming into my life" and "I love you" because they have brightened my days in miraculous ways. They are my pride and joy. All animal lovers know what I'm talking about! When I adopted them at the shelter, each had already been adopted out to other people and been promptly returned. The senior cat was biting and the somewhat younger cat was pathologically shy and scared, having been separated from her sibling with whom she was bonded. It took a lot of time and patience and my unceasing love for them. It helped that they bonded with each other! Well, you should see them now! I thank those people who brought them back to the shelter, because now they are with me -- beautiful and radiant cats. Thank you, my pussycats. I love you. I give thanks for you.

Norma Bucknall

You know I am grateful for my 3 rescued furbabies -- and for YOU, Matt Bershadker!
Happy Thanksgiving!

Dog lover

I give thanks to my dog who is really anoyying at times (doesn't let you sleep) but is adorable to have around.

anna

i love my beagle hes the best dog you can ask for!!!!!!