Thursday, February 11, 2010

Pet News and Views

I recently interviewed Michele C. Hollow, an animal advocate who write a blog entitled "Pet News and Views." Her blog includes great articles about all sorts of animals, like how to help cats to get along, and information about what congress has to say about animal welfare. Here's what Michele had to say to us:

HTB: Michele, tells us about what inspired you to start your blog, Pet News and Views. How long have you been writing it?

MH: I have always loved animals. I studied zoology at the Bronx Zoo when I was a kid. They had a Friends of the Zoo study volunteer program. I just loved being around exotic animals, and at home, I was always around dogs and cats. My two dogs were given to us by people who no longer wanted them—one was a mutt and the other a miniature poodle. All of the cats in my life have found me. So when it came time to start blogging, I worked as a professional journalist for 15 plus years, I thought writing about animals would be a natural fit for me.

I also wrote a book, “The Everything Guide to Working with Animals,” (Adams Media). Researching and writing the book was such a joy because I loved listening to the stories from the experts. The people I interviewed for the book all work with animals, and they love their jobs.

I started Pet News and Views the first day of summer '09.

HTB: What are the main topics you cover on your blog?

MH: I write about people who work with animals, pet care, animal welfare, celebrities who use their status to help animals, and some travel to places where people can see animals in their natural habitat.

HTB: What do you see as the most effective ways people can advocate for
the fair treatment of animals?

MH: By being well informed and organized. There are so many good animal welfare agencies out there that are working so hard to end kill shelters, puppy mills, dog auctions, breed specific legislation, and I could go on and on. What I want to do with Pet News and Views is bring a lot of these issues to light, and to offer people a way to help. Not everyone can sign a huge check. People can contact their legislative leaders, and voice their opinions. We vote people into office and can easily vote them out of office. Many of my posts cover ways people can volunteer, make phone calls, write e-mails, and donate dollars.

I have been writing a lot about banning Ohio dog auctions. I live in NJ, and I want all of my readers to know that even if they live outside of Ohio, they can help end this awful practice of dogs being auctioned off to puppy mills. I often ask my readers to spread the word to their families and friends in Ohio.

The same goes with greyhound racing. I love posting stories about how greyhound racing has ended in MA and NH. I can’t wait to write that it no longer exists.

HTB: Do you know of any upcoming legislation that people should take action for?

MH: Yes. I wrote a story about Saving America’s Horses. The story is about Congress needing to enact a federal ban on horse slaughter. Some state legislatures have acted to stop horse slaughter, shuttering the last remaining foreign-owned horse slaughter plants in the United States in 2007. However, Congress has yet to enact a federal ban. This means that not only can horses continue to be exported to Canada and Mexico for slaughter, but more foreign-owned horse slaughter plants could try to set up shop in the U.S.

Fortunately, many members of Congress remain committed to horse protection. Senator Mary Landrieu (D-LA), is the lead Senate sponsor of the Prevention of Equine Cruelty Act (S. 727) to ban horse slaughter. Senator John Ensign (R-NV), Representative John Conyers (D-MI), and Representative Dan Burton (R-IN) join her in that fight as lead authors of S. 727/H.R 503. Voters can contact their state senator and let them know they are supporting these bills.

Another issue is banning Ohio dog auctions. The Coalition to Ban Ohio Dog Auctions is working to collect 120,700 signatures needed—to put before state legislators. Residents of Ohio can sign the petition, and friends and family outside of Ohio can inform them about these issues. For the full story, go to my blog or check out the Coalition to Ban Ohio Dog Auctions.

I am working on stories about breed specific legislation (where certain dogs, like pit bulls are banned in some states), declawing cat laws (yes, I’m not making this up), and other stories. I do post light stories too. I’m currently posting romance stories on getting past the first date and getting to know your partner’s pets.

HTB: If you could give three pieces of advice to animal lovers, what would they be?

MH: If you are going to purchase an animal, please go to your local animal shelter. If you prefer a purebred, you may be surprised to learn that many shelters have purebred dogs. You can also adopt from breed rescue clubs.

Spend quality time with your pets. If you have a pet or are planning on getting one, please understand that it takes a lot of work. Cats are easier than dogs, but both need attention—don’t we all? Even birds are social animals, and you need to talk to them, play with them, and care for them.

Make sure your pets are fit and healthy. Exercise your cat and dog. Walking a dog is great exercise for people and the dog. Cats need exercise too, and cat dancers are great ways to play with your cat to make sure he is getting exercise. Don’t over do it though. Just enjoy being around your pets.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Creative Nonfiction Animal Writing Contest

Here's an opportunity for all you writers out there to share information about animal experienced and win money! Entries must be postmarked by April 2nd, 2010. Further information is available at their website.

Creative Nonfiction's website says:

For an upcoming issue, we're seeking new essays about the bonds--emotional, ethical, biological, physical, or otherwise--between humans and animals. We're looking for stories that illustrate ways animals (wild and/or domestic) affect, enrich, or otherwise have an impact on our daily lives.

Essays must be vivid and dramatic; they should combine a strong and compelling narrative with a significant element of research or information, and reach for some universal or deeper meaning in personal experiences. We’re looking for well-written prose, rich with detail and a distinctive voice.

Creative Nonfiction editors will award one $1000 prize for Best Essay and one $500 prize for runner-up.

Guidelines: Essays must be: unpublished, 5,000 words or less, postmarked by April 2, 2010, and clearly marked “Animals” on both the essay and the outside of the envelope. There is a $20 reading fee (or send a reading fee of $25 to include a 4-issue CNF subscription); multiple entries are welcome ($20/essay) as are entries from outside the U.S. (though subscription shipping costs do apply). Please send manuscript, accompanied by a cover letter with complete contact information, SASE and payment to:

Creative Nonfiction
Attn: Animals
5501 Walnut Street, Suite 202
Pittsburgh, PA 15232