RANDY WARNER: MAN WITH A MISSION
By Nancy Marano
Randy, Megan & Maddy mug for the Arsenio Hall show. (Photo courtesy Randy Warner)
Is there anything you care about so passionately that you'd be willing to spend a year of your life touring the country to talk about it? Randy Warner does.
Warner heads a non-profit organization called 21st Century Animal Resource Education Services (21st CARES.) In January 2002 he will embark on a 12-month tour of 50 cities in 50 weeks taking his humane education program to every school, scout troop, or youth club that will listen. Warner plans to speak to 1,000,000 people, mostly youth, about the problem of pet overpopulation and how they can solve it.
In the past 17 years Warner has rescued over 2700 abandoned and abused dogs and placed them in loving homes. He kept one dog who was doused with gasoline and set on fire by her owner. Warner thought this dog would be a good companion for another of his dogs who has a crushed skull from being beaten with a metal pipe by her previous owner.
Warner is a dog trainer and groomer by profession. For the last seven years he's visited various schools sharing his program, and working especially with at-risk teens and underprivileged youth.
Warner has confidence that this country's youth can do better resolving animal overpopulation than adults have done. He contends that 65% of puppies born in this country will end up in shelters to be killed before they reach 18 months of age. People spend over one billion dollars each year on animal control in this country. At least that amount is donated to animal welfare organizations, too. But millions of adoptable pets still are killed every year.
Warner says those who currently make the decisions on animal issues have a bad record. Therefore, he believes it is vital to reach children at an early age to help them make better decisions in the future.
Warner's humane education program takes 90 minutes to present and costs the school nothing. He travels in a motor home with his dogs, mostly Dalmatians. His dogs are part of the presentation.
"People often pick the wrong pet for their lifestyle because they haven't learned about the breed first. Other people make no attempt to train or socialize the dog they get and then wonder why the dog doesn't behave," Warner said.
Warner talks to 5th and 6th graders first. Then he connects with sophomores and juniors from various high schools in the community. One aspect of his program is to form groups of Humane Ambassadors. He asks these teens to study humane education programs published by several animal welfare organizations. Then they write a program tailored to the needs of their community. Members of the Humane Ambassadors go throughout their state talking to other teens about pet overpopulation.
He believes that today's youth appreciate challenges and can do for pet overpopulation in the 21st century what youth did for litter in the 60's and recycling in the 80's. Pet overpopulation is solvable if we change our approach.
Warner plans to bring his program to the Albuquerque and Santa Fe areas in March 2002. If you are interested in having him bring his program to your school or group, contact Randy Warner at 520-767-4895 or by email at: email@example.com. Check his website at: www.21stcenturycares.org for more information on his work.
HUMANE EDUCATION CLUB
Georgia Benyk, school psychologist at Barry Goldwater High School in Phoenix, has always loved animals and been involved with animal issues. There was no humane education program in her district schools, so it seemed natural for her to facilitate an extracurricular club for students interested in animals.
The purpose of the Humane Education Club (HEC) is to learn about humane animal issues from spaying and neutering to animal cruelty laws. The club meets twice a month. It features programs that include guest speakers on animal topics and videos. Each year HEC does fundraising projects. At the end of the year they divide the funds among various animal groups.
Last year the club wrote and performed a skit in five elementary schools that taught humane pet care and reached over 1,000 children. The skit's topics included spaying and neutering, grooming, shelter, veterinary care, protecting pets in hot weather, and giving pets loving attention. The skit encouraged lively audience participation.
This year HEC is researching state animal cruelty laws. The students will write to senators and congressmen from states with lenient laws appealing to them to help strengthen the laws.
While Georgia Benyk never met Randy Warner, she and HEC are doing now what he hopes his Humane Ambassadors groups will do in the future. For more on HEC visit their website at: www.webspawner.com/users/benyk/ index.html.
Animals are such agreeable friends--they ask no questions,
they pass no criticisms. -George Eliot
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