I have always had a compassion for animals and never thought my compassion would morph into activism, as it has today.
My career path sure would attest to this, as I never sought out animal organizations for employment or volunteerism. In many ways, I was just like everyone else with perhaps an empathy and lifelong love for animals, but only giving aid when needed.
My career path was in social work, mainly with children and families. In Santa Fe, I directed a wholesale company and sold product at trade shows across the country, in catalogs and on home shopping networks, such as QVC. My love of the arts led me to become a director of an art gallery on Canyon Road in Santa Fe for a few years. In Taos, I started working for Taos Talking Pictures in development and created its hospitality department before working with town of Taos tourism through Griffin and Associates.
Through it all, I cherished my own dogs and occasional cat.
Today, I am an activist for animal reform and welfare, including farm animals that are kept in unclean and unprotected environments. These animals also suffer cruelty and neglect. I love wildlife and cannot imagine life without all the critters that fly and walk on this planet, big and small. I have served on statewide and local animal nonprofit boards. Please check out one of my very favorite animal organizations that started with rescuing of livestock - Gentle Barn, gentlebarn.org.
Before becoming an activist, I grew up on a ranch. My mother married a rancher when I was 7 years old. My younger brother and I moved about 100 miles outside of Los Angeles, California, to live on his ranch - complete with barns and livestock yards. The following years, I learned how to shoot a .22 caliber rifle and helped raise cows, pigs, lambs and other animals.
The family had hundreds of acres in the mountains, where the calves were transported to the upper meadows when old enough - until slaughter time. A cow would be shot and brought down to the barn and butchered. As children, we played around the cow that was being cut up and did not give much thought to the whole process; this was life on a ranch. Everyone had dogs - and not inside dogs. The dogs were always fed well and given good shelter outside.
While on the ranch, our dogs would occasionally become surrogates when nursing different types of orphaned wildlife. On weekends, my brother and I would leave the house on our bikes for our daylong adventures and pick up other kids along the way with everyone's dogs running in a pack behind us, tongues wagging with expressions of great glee and fun. No cars. No mean people. Just kids and their dogs.
OK, why am I giving you the short version of my life and career? One reason is I am always asked about it from people curious to know how I became an animal activist, but more importantly, I wanted to help the ranchers and farmers living in rural areas to know that I am not a one-dimensional person and ignorant of the difference between living on a ranch with your animals and living in a more populated area.
The pending Taos County ordinance off-leash law and the law for dogs riding in the back of trucks have an exception for ranchers and farmers. This law will not apply to you. Also, once again, I repeat, this animal ordinance is only for domestic animals.
Coming from a ranching background, I am not ignorant of these concerns. Working with laws having an effect on hundreds of animals is a responsibility that is not taken lightly. We did our best to address the concerns of our community and our animals. This ordinance is not just about an individual's rights, it is about protecting the welfare of our animals and the rights of people who want tighter laws and enforcement.
You can easily access the animal ordinances of every town and county in New Mexico by going on Animal Protection of New Mexico's website, apnm.org. Read, compare and get educated and informed. Our Taos County ordinance is not an anomaly by any means.