And Then The Dogs...
This is my acceptance speech of the 2016 “Animal Welfare Hero” Award at the Baltimore Humane Society Black Tie and Tails Gala & Benefit held on March 16th, 2016…
Good evening to everyone. I am so pleased to win the Oscar for Actor of the Year. Receiving this award is such an amazing honor. I dreamt about this moment since I was a child…(ar-ar :-)
The invitation said black tie optional, sense of humor required!
Seriously, I would like to thank the Baltimore Humane Society for honoring me as the 2016 Animal Welfare Hero. This recognition comes as an unexpected surprise, because there are a lot of people out there that do so much more than I. Everything I’ve done to help the cause I’ve done because I thought it’s just what you’re supposed to do. You just jump in.
Although I’ve been around animals my entire life and an animal artist for much of it, I only stumbled into animal rescue since moving to Baltimore in 1995.
Growing up in Vermont my family had the requisite happy go lucky country dogs, Collies, Golden Retrievers, Yellow Labs and a number of indoor/outdoor cats. They were all loved and well kept. My awareness of animal abuse was minimal.
As a visual artist I’m very aware of my surroundings. In Baltimore I couldn’t help but notice the dogs in my own neighborhood that were apparently being ignored and neglected.
In one block alone I confronted the owners and rescued 5 dogs over the course of two years. Each rescue was slightly different. For one, I simply knocked on the front door and asked for the dog that was freezing to death in the backyard. They said nothing and didn’t bat an eye; the person went and got the dog, handed her over and slammed the door. Her name was Silky and she happily jumped into my van.
The most important rescue, at least the one dearest to me, happened about 7 years ago. In my daily routine I noticed a little brown dog in the broken cement backyard of a rundown abandoned row house in the city. He was a dirty, small, very thin Pitbull, he was not too remarkable except for the heavy motorcycle chain attached to his neck with a tight leather collar. After keeping an eye on him for a few days, it became clear that he’d been abandoned, either the owner had lost interest and stopped feeding him, or he was possibly on his way to be a bait dog. The fence door was open and he willingly came over to me, I removed his collar from his raw neck, the ridiculous heavy chain fell away. He jumped into my van and off we went.
We really weren’t looking for a dog, especially a Pit Bull, but I instantly fell in love with him and I secretly knew we’d keep him despite our house full of cats. We named him Super Lou, he took about a year to recover from his malnutrition and neglect and in the process he changed our perception of the breed and he changed our lives.
Since then I have through my art been able to raise money and awareness for other animals just like Super Lou allowing them to wiggle their way into our hearts and lives.
So it is with great honor that I accept this award on behalf of my best man Super Lou.