The post I wanted to share this week does not necessarily tie in with a single reading specifically we have done, but rather with a few overarching themes of Network Cultures. I have always been an avid animal rights activist, working with the O.S.P.C.A. to bring justice to abused, abandoned, and neglected animals. These charities are often reliant on generous donations in order to remain in operation, which as a result impacts the extent they are able to provide aide to animals in need. My family and I have fostered dogs, cats, and guinea pigs, where we ourselves have had dogs, cats, horses, hamsters, fish, and geckos. My parents even once cared for baby skunks, raccoons, iguanas, and ducks… Needless to say, animals are no strangers in my family.
The Pet and Wildlife Rescue (abbreviated to PAW) is the animal control provide in my hometown of Chatham and responsible for enforcing responsible animal ownership and providing rescue services to animals in need. This organization relies on an extensive network of volunteers, law enforcement, foster families, and citizens in order to remain in operation and rescue abused, injured, and neglected animals to name a few.
PAW exists on a very specific platform that transcends digital and material borders. PAW has a very small centre in Chatham where a few staff members work seven days a week caring for the few animals located at the centre, and essentially managing the PAW organization.
PAW’s network expands beyond their centre and as previously stated, transcends a number of digital and material borders. They operate on a digital platform in order to illustrate their services and advertise the animals in their care. Their website provides potential adopters, foster families, and anyone who is interested in learning more about them, with detailed information of their rescue services, adoption fees, animal ownership laws, programming opportunities, and of course, the animals that are up for adoption. Their Facebook page advertises pictures of the animals they have rescued, while they advertise their programming and fundraising events. Recently, PAW teamed up with the Brownies and Girl Guides to sell cupcakes in local areas across Chatham, in which all proceeds went to PAW.
PAW relies on foster families to care for animals as they go up for adoption, which is part of their initiative to keep animals in home environments to be socialized. At PAW, no animal is too small or too big. PAW foster families care for hamsters, rabbits, turtles, dogs, cats, birds, pigs, horses…the list goes on and on. Each platform, the digital network and the material, operate within the larger network of PAW and rely on one another to operate systematically. By operating digitally and materially, PAW allows for a number of affordances and opportunities for potential adopters, rescuers, foster families, and even for those who are surrendering an animal.
I don’t think there is anyone in the cohort who does not know of Petey, my beloved Shih
Tzu rescue. Two years ago, my mother saw a picture of a black Shih Tzu on PAW’s Facebook page as one of their “newbie alerts” and immediately contacted them to meet him. My family met him at a networking event hosted by PAW, in which potential adopters and dogs met in a booked space for a meet and greet. A few days later, my sister told me that we had adopted him and my dad chose the name ‘Petey’, since he had no name at the time. He came to us incredibly malnourished, weighing only half his body weight, and was incredibly shy. He had never had any toys and did not even know how to play with them (my mom had to teach him). Until he was rescued by PAW, he had never known what it felt like to be loved, and now Petey is the most loved dog in the world. I have never met a more compassionate and loving dog. PAW’s extensive and elaborate digital and material network allowed my family to find Petey and give him a home, connecting us to the rescue community.
Oh, Petey. ♥