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My Pet World: Passion for animal protection

February 01, 2011

EDITOR'S NOTE: Steve Dale serves on the board of directors of the American Humane Assn.

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"Tell the truth and trust the people; they won't let you down," says Robin Ganzert, who last October took over as the new president and chief executive of the American Humane Assn.

"Wow, I am humbled," says Ganzert. "After all, since 1877 the historic American Humane Assn. has been at the forefront of every major advancement in protecting children, pets and farm animals from cruelty, abuse and neglect. Today, we're leading the way to better understand human-animal interaction and its role in society. We do have quite a wonderful legacy."

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Ganzert speaks quickly, knowing exactly what she wants to say.

"The American Humane Assn. supports mainstream values of America, sharing the belief that we all support humane causes and values of compassion, hope and caring," she adds.

One example is the association's farm animal certification program, the largest in the country, which is designed to protect farm animals and enhance food safety. There are other farm animal certification programs being touted to politicians that are not science-based, and rife with unintended consequences.

Renowned behaviorist Temple Grandin serves on the association's Farm Animal Scientific Advisory Board.

"Of course, Temple is one of the best advocates we can possibly have," says Ganzert. "Our standards (for farm animals) are fact-based, and include 130 million animals in food supply. While our intent is to have food supply animals treated as humanely as possible, at the same time our goal is to work with agriculture, educate them as to the best standards of humane animal welfare — and not to put them out of business." For example, due to the many animal care limitations placed on farmers when Proposition 2 passed in California, many farmers have the state.

Ganzert says farmers are a part of the American fabric, and the American Humane Assn. values farmers.

As Ganzert speaks about returning to humane values and a sense of community, she sounds like a citizen of Mayberry. In fact, she lives less than 30 minutes from Mount Airy, N.C., the real city after which Andy Griffith patterned the fictional Mayberry. The same passion rings when she talks about the association's Front Porch Project.

"It's really a simple idea — neighbors helping neighbors, particularly looking after children," Ganzert says. "The time has come to lift one another up."

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