Mark Meyers–founder and executive director of Peaceful Valley Donkey Rescue, the largest donkey rescue operation in the U.S.—recalls how it all began, when he and his wife brought home a donkey named Izzy as a companion for their horse. That was nearly a quarter of a century—and thousands of donkeys—ago. Meyers acknowledges they knew nothing about donkeys when Izzy arrived, but have since become deeply steeped in all facets of these animals. Indeed, their instant affection for Izzy spurred their fast-growing, wide-screen awareness of the plight of donkeys, and a parallel inclination to rapidly rescue members of this bottomless herd of neglected and abused critters. With this high-speed modus operandi, and deep compassion, guiding their actions, Meyers essentially said they looked up one day, and they had acquired 25 donkeys. The next time they looked up, it was 250. Meyers supports my observation that the Peaceful Valley ethos has been to Think Big, then Act Big. So, when most people had managed to rescue 250 donkeys (or 250 of any animals) in about six years’ time, perhaps a common reaction would be to feel satisfied with one’s own effort, and just settle in, caring for those animals. But that’s not how the Meyers roll. Mark Meyers describes how they decided to significantly alter their lives, moving from outside Los Angeles to a sprawling property in San Angelo, TX, with Mark leaving behind his electrical contractor business. Now, in 2023, the better part of 25 years after Izzy entered the picture, Peaceful Valley is a humongous enterprise: The San Angelo facility sits on a 172-acre spread, housing about 1000 donkeys, while Meyers discusses the corporate-like structure and literal flowchart of how rescued donkeys may be transported to its numerous Satellite Adoption Centers or to the organization’s many sanctuaries, depending on their condition or the in-house training they’ve received–or will receive–to enhance their adoption prospects. The Peaceful Valley website tracks the key donkey stats in real time, including “Donkeys Under Our Direct Care: 3,754” and “Locations: 59” Meyers addresses a host of other topics, including the perception of donkeys as stupid and stubborn (and his longstanding efforts to correct that perception), the criteria to adopt a Peaceful Valley donkey, and what lies ahead for Peaceful Valley Donkey Rescue and Meyers himself. (https://donkeyrescue.org/, https://www.facebook.com/donkeyadoption, https://www.youtube.com/user/DonkeyRescueTV)
ALSO: I spoke briefly with Lisa Ortiz, Director Of Housing and Residence Life at Ferris State University, in Michigan, which has just launched a pilot program allowing students to live in a designated floor of the dorms with their pets. Noting that it’s not uncommon for new college students–most of whom are living away from their homes and families for the first time–to feel homesick, and sometimes experience feelings of anxiety, depression, and isolation, Ortiz explained that she and her colleagues felt that inviting a group of FSU students to live with their family dog or cat could be a wonderful way to mitigate those feelings. Ortiz recalls that when they announced the new program, the response was fast and overwhelmingly positive—the rooms on the pet floor quickly filled up. School started this week, and Ortiz said the students moved in a week or so before, and everything with the floor’s pet population (cats and dogs, and one snake) seemed smooth, and off to a good start. Ortiz said they plan to evaluate the pet initiative in December—when housing contracts are finalized for the next semester—deciding whether to continue or expand the program, adding they’ve heard from high school students who are applying to FSU and hopeful they can live on the pet floor. (https://www.ferris.edu/student-life/reslife/homepage.htm)
COMEDY CORNER: Eddie Izzard’s “Talk To The Animals” (https://www.eddieizzard.com/en)
MUSIC: Rebekah Pulley’s “Talking Animals Theme,” instrumentals
NAME THAT ANIMAL TUNE: We didn’t play “Name That Animal Tune” today.
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