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Cat Adoptions and Administration are located at The Cat Box, 3015 46th Ave. N, St. Petersburg FL 33714. Dog adoptions, MEOW Now, foster, intake, and donation drop off are located at 2911 47th Ave. N, St. Petersburg FL 33714.

Moving From Animal Lover to Animal Advocate

Wednesday, June 5, 2024

Friends of Strays is fortunate to have supporters who have a depth of knowledge in the world of animal welfare. Arin Greenwood is a member of the Friends of Strays Board of Directors who grew from a life-long animal lover to an advocate for animal welfare throughout her career. She shares her insight into how we all can channel that passion to helping make a better world for cats and dogs in need.

I've always loved animals. As a kid, other people heard dogs barking and went the other way — I ran toward them. I couldn't pass an animal without petting them. Still can't. I swore if my family got a dog, I'd never ask for anything else again. (We got a dog; candidly, I still asked for other things.) 

I even became a vegetarian when I was 6 years old. Thank you, always, Mom and Dad for supporting that young decision. Decades later, it's a choice that's stuck.

But despite this deep, instinctual love, I never really know how to help. That might have just been a lack of imagination, or experience, on my part. Whatever the cause — I just didn't know what to do, to help make animals' lives better.

Through a chain of events no one could have planned for or predicted, several careers into adulthood I became a journalist specializing in animal sheltering and rescue. It was a job I loved with my whole heart and soul. 

I got to know people all over the country who were giving everything they had, and then some, to save cats' and dogs' lives. These inspiring people were at the cutting edge of animal welfare, advocating, changing the whole field, proving what could be done — what is possible, and therefore what is necessary.

I got to tell their stories. It was an incredible honor. I like to think it helped pets get adopted, raised awareness about the importance of fostering, spread news about lifesaving programs that work, sounded the alarm about harmful laws and policies, and maybe even changed some minds about the most misunderstood and denigrated animals.

I hope it made a difference for animals. I know it made a difference for me, giving me a sense of purpose that I'd been desperate for — while also immersing me in a field where we have the opportunity to actually make things better. 

The world is so rich with impossible existential crises, but companion animal welfare is not one of them. I hope I don't sound like a starry-eyed idealist when I say that we face crises here, of course — tremendous ones right now, in fact. But I know we can solve these problems when we work together. 

Now I get to be part of that, in my small way, in my professional life and as a member of the Friends of Strays board. I am so immensely proud of what this shelter is already doing — and of what Friends of Strays is working ever forward toward. It's a better future for people and pets in our community, and beyond. 

Before I got lucky enough to stumble into becoming an animal journalist, I knew I wanted to help animals but I didn't know how. If you feel that way, too, I'd encourage you to come be part of Friends of Strays in whatever way works for you — whether that's by adopting, fostering, volunteering, joining the staff, taking a pup out on a doggy day out adventure, donating, coming to an event, or even just sharing a social media post about a pet who is looking for a home.

Every one of these things makes a difference, and not just for animals. It will make a difference for you, too. And who knows, one of those opportunities could lead you further into animal welfare than you knew was possible!