Thursday, August 15, 2013

• BarkWorld 2013: Here We Come!

Have you been to BarkWorld, a pet social media conference? It's a real treat. Some tips:

• Bring plenty of business cards. Even if you don't have a blog or web site, go to a copy shop and make cards with your name, phone number, and email.
• Make notes about a person on their business card when you get it. I met people I promised to follow on Twitter, people whose blog I wanted to read, and people I wanted to follow up with. I only made notes on about half the cards; I missed a lot of opportunities.
• Get a business card from a pet's owner if you take a photo of their pet. If you post the photo on Twitter, include the owner's Twitter handle. Even if they have dozens of photos of their pets, people always want more!
• Post on Twitter and Facebook during the conference. Add the hashtag #BarkWorld. Use the Twitter handle of speakers and sponsors; they appreciate the visibility and they may retweet, exposing you to a new audience.
• You'll meet a lot of people. It's OK if you don't remember someone's name. (I usually remember pet names, though!)
• I love Carma Poodale's suggestion of having my photo taken with speakers and/or conference attendees, especially those I follow.
• Power up your computer and phone in your room before you go to the conference (there's a shortage of outlets). You might want to bring a power strip if you're rooming with someone.
• There's food and drinks on Thursday and Friday nights, but not on Saturday. If you want to eat with people on Saturday night, arrange ahead of time.
• Bring fewer clothes than you think you need. Dressing up Thursday and Friday nights is optional. Leave room in your suitcase to take home swag.
• There are lots of prizes, but you have to be sure to sign up for them and you usually have to be "present" to win ("present" meaning in the main conference room).
• You don't have to do everything. There are dozens of places in the hotel (which is very nice) to hang out and regroup.
• Have fun!

Dr. @LorieAHuston (r) and me
See all my photos from BarkWorld 2012!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

• Dog Fighting Doesn't Affect Me. Or Does It?

ASPCA Dog Fighting exhibit, with Dr. Randall Lockwood (right)
Below: How to TAKE ACTION

Before I saw an ASPCA exhibit about dog fighting, I would have said I wasn't directly affected by it. Now I'm not so sure.

"Dog Fighting: The Voiceless Victims" laid out horrifying tools of this unspeakable, brutal blood sport. A "rape" stand that immobilizes female dogs so they can be bred. A collar with sharp nails that antagonize a fighting dog. Skeletal remains of animals found at crime scenes.

"We want people to realize the brutality of dog fighting and see that it's the greatest violation of the human-animal bond," says Dr. Randall Lockwood, senior vice president of ASPCA Forensic Sciences and Anti-Cruelty Projects. In May 2013 Dr. Lockwood lead a tour through the temporary exhibit, at the Crime Museum in Washington, D.C., for several attendees of BlogPaws 2013, a social media conference for pet professionals. (The exhibit is now closed.)

One solution is the Animal Fighting Spectator Prohibition Act. When I think about dog fights, I think of organizers, promoters, animal owners—Michael Vick, for example. Spectators are another key component. They may travel long distances to see a fight or gamble on it. If a fight is raided, principals can escape into the crowd. The Act would make it a federal offense to attend an organized animal fight; major players could be apprehended.

Members of ASPCA Government Relations staff brief BlogPaws guests
The Act would also enforce fines for forcing a minor to attend fights. That's right. Some spectators bring children. A child who watches a bloody, violent dog fight can be traumatized. A child surrounded by the culture of criminal activity around dog fighting—drugs, weapons, gambling, more—could, himself, become a criminal.

I live in Fairfax County, Va., near the nation's capital. I thought dog fighting occurred in inner cities or rural areas. Yet in 2012 a potential dog-fighting ring was found in Fairfax Co.; law enforcement fears there may be more. My tax dollars are used for dog fighting. Children and animals in my community may have been victims.

TAKE ACTION in 2015!
April 8 is National Dog Fighting Awareness Day. You can take action!
• Ask the Department of Justice to #GetTough on dog fighters by creating harsher sentencing guidelines. Fill out this quick form and let the DOJ know that you support prosecution of this horrific form of cruelty.
• Visit the ASPCA's Fight Cruelty section to learn about its work against dog fighting
• Download a #GetTough kit on dog fighting
• See "Three Ways to Stop Dog Fighting that Take Three Minutes."

• Wordless Wednesday: August 7, 2013

A lady never reveals her age, but Mama is at least 22.