Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Bunny's Billionaire Helper

By Shane and Sia Barbi
Beverly Hills Times, April 7, 2009

Rarely heard from and almost never seen, there is a silent supporter in Los Angeles’ animal welfare world.  He lives a quiet life, drives an 8-year old dog-friendly PT Cruiser and does his own grocery shopping, and while this hero manages to stay out of the public eye his generous contributions speak for him.  His name is Dr. Gary Michelson.

One of “Forbes 400” richest Americans, Dr. Michelson built his fortune inventing spinal surgical devices. Now retired, he devotes his wealth to benefit causes aligned with his philanthropic passions, including founding two charitable organizations—one focusing on human genetic research and the other dedicated to helping homeless companion animals. 

Pets have always been a positive force in Dr. Michelson’s life, providing great comfort through difficult times, and in return he is committed to ending the needless euthanasia that is the current de facto animal control policy in the United States and beyond. 

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Los Angeles Homeless and their pets

By Shane and Sia Barbi
Beverly Hills Times Magazine, Feb 4, 2009

Beverly Hills is filled with powerful yet compassionate people known for their generosity with money and charitable endeavors to help those less fortunate.  Even still, its city borders can't escape the images of the homeless sleeping on Los Angeles streets -- many with their pet companions.

During the California fires some of us heard the horrible story of a homeless man who along with his dog, burned to death.  Every day similar stories surface about homeless who die as a result of the hardships and the dangerous conditions they face living on the streets.  Add to that the fact that many remain on the street even though shelters are available simply because the shelters won't allow them to bring in their pets -- their only family and friend.  You would think that we could find a better solution to helping the homeless...one that doesn't require them to give up their pets for a place to sleep.

On the flip0 side, new reports show a growing problem of a different nature.  Some homless have pets not for companions, but as part of the 'con' to get money and/or sympathy.  Real concerns have risen concerning the health and well-being of these pets as the owners (some are mentally and physically challenged) are taking out their anger and frustration on their animals.  The end result is dismal and the problem has grown to such huge proportions, especially here in Los Angeles, and in all big cities, that animal rights organizations are now looking for options to remove these suffering pets from their care.

Up until now, neither the public bus system nor the city pound is offering to take pets away when they see them being abused.  They explain their reason for lack of intervention as this; even though "the owner is homeless and mentally ill, the pet is still the property of that homeless person."  As animal activists who have traveled the country supporting the rights of all animals, animal cruelty is a felony -- no mattter who does it.  As a community we need to enforce existing laws that support the health and well-being of animals.  And, for those not capable of taking care of a pet or treating it with love and concern, that pet should be removed from the owner, and be protected.

Read the article in its entirety HERE