As you all know, we are just under three months shy of our 4 year protest anniversary in front of Dyvig’s Pet Shoppe- not to mention the three other pet stores we have volunteers standing in front of. The support that we receive from the community (and social media) is overwhelmingly positive and supportive. However, we do receive some anger directed at what we do. Especially when the store sends angry people our way. One of the frequent (personal) questions we are asked is “Why don’t you people do something better with your time?” It doesn’t matter what they are doing with their free time, they want to know why we aren’t doing more.
Protesting isn’t a new thing, nor is it going away any time soon. Since the 16th century (likely before), citizens have been documented peacefully assembling in order to raise awareness about issues that are near and dear to their hearts. Freedom, the right to vote, to end wars, to get unionized, to end animal cruelty in zoos/circuses, to raise awareness about puppy mills…. There is no end to the important causes in this world. Peaceful protests have made a lot of positive change in the history of the world. Sadly, there will always be those who disagree with the topic you are fighting for. No matter what it is.
So I wanted to take a second and ask a few of our volunteers that question…. Why protest? Why spend your free time holding a sign in front of a pet store? Our volunteers come from all walks of life- we have vet techs, factory workers, shelter employees, retired marines, teachers, and- actually- our most frequent protester is a retired 71 year old feisty woman! But no matter what we have going on, the plight and suffering of the dogs trapped in puppy mills weighs heavily on our hearts. So, without any more ramblings, I want you to hear it from our volunteers. Why do YOU protest?
Vicki- Why do I protest? Of course the obvious answer is that I love animals and hope to make their plight better through protest. I want to be one voice for the voiceless. No matter what you feel strongly about, protesting lets all observers know your stance on the subject. But, to be honest, there is a selfish side to protest, I feel so much better about myself now that I am protesting regularly. I’m no longer just existing for myself. I hope that I am actually making a difference in the life of an animal that is at the mercy of humans. I am not just inwardly turned… living only for myself anymore. I think many have never learned how good you feel if you do something good, an act of kindness that cannot be returned. It’s the best gift you can give yourself.
David- Ending puppy Mills is one piece of the puzzle.. it is about changing hearts and minds- bringing about a more compassionate towards all sentient beings. And ultimately ending all forms of animal cruelty.
Lori- The obvious importance of protesting is the significant role that protests have played in bringing about the necessary change throughout history. Successful protests have the power to positively influence public opinion. Every changed heart is a huge victory. What we believe at the heart level becomes our way of life, and in turn, influences others around us. For me, personally, gathering with others to protest strengthens my resolve to continue to work towards bringing about change.
Kristin- Puppies are adorable. Typically when people walk into a pet store, they have no intention of buying. But they see that adorable puppy and can’t say no. They impulse buy. If people knew where the mom’s and dad’s came from, I believe that there is no way in their right minds that they would buy. There are enough homeless animals that we can all find the perfect pet in a shelter or rescue. We don’t need poor quality and mass breeding. We need to save the ones that are already here.
Kelsey- I think that protesting is important because consumers deserve to know all of the facts before making a decision. Protesters have no financial stake in the business, so they are being honest and transparent.
Shannon- Protesting is important because you are educating others about puppy mills. I was unaware of the puppy mill problem in Iowa until I started protesting. Because it’s not in the news often, many people in this state are unaware of where pet store puppies come from. I protest to educate.
Katt- I believe protesting is an important step in educating the public because the animals we are protesting for cannot speak for themselves. As simple a step as putting easy to read writing on signs, can lead a person to go home and research puppy mills and to research the business being protested.
As for me… I think protesting is one of the most important things a person can do in their life. Not only are we exercising our rights as free citizens, while educating about a topic that we care passionately about- but we are proving that those dogs trapped in the puppy mills are no longer invisible. We stand as visible reminders every single (day/weekend/month/year) that those dogs DO exist and they are suffering. No longer are we sitting idly by, we are changing the world every day that we are out there. With every new person we educate, the puppy mill industry becomes weaker and weaker.
Everything we have said in the short interviews given are things we wish we could say every single time we are asked “Why”. Instead, most people walk off without a pause for an answer. So we tell them to have a great day and we stare straight ahead and hold our signs. Every time.
For the dogs.
Can you join us? Even once?
Bailing Out Benji hosts peaceful protests each weekend in
Ames, Iowa City and Cedar Rapids (Iowa).
email: firstname.lastname@example.org for more information!