When you write a blog, you are often sharing your heart with your readers. On a lucky day, a lot of people like and share and your heart finds a wide audience. On most days that isn’t the case. As I looked over my top 20 most read posts of 2014, I saw that while some of my posts were on the list, many were missing.
So, today I’m sharing my top 15 favorite posts for the year.
Blogging Works, Yo’
We have a saying here at ChicagoNow – Blogging Works, Yo, (thank you Mary Tyler Mom). It means that sometimes you will write something that not only finds an awesome audience, but it will also ignite change. I had two rants this year that did just that. Both were on yesterday’s list, but they are a couple of my favorites based on what happened next.
This past spring, an Illinois lawmaker started moving a bill forward in Springfield that would have required all rescue organizations to turn stray animals over to an animal control within 24 hours or face a fine. On the surface, it may sound like a great idea, but for many pets that trip into overcrowded animal controls would be a death sentence. My post - Proposed Illinois animal control bill could be deadly for cats and dogs – pointed out some of the problems with the bill and encouraged calls to Springfield. The calls from readers and also from Steve Dale and his readers prompted action from Representative Sara Feigenholtz who tabled the bill.
Naperville is home to two puppy mill stores - Petland and Happiness is Pets. In early June, my blood boiled and I went on a rant when a new, larger Happiness Is Pets appeared in Naperville. With the pet store/puppy mill connection all over the news I was furious that this new store appeared to be going in under the radar and wrote about it in Naperville: The puppy mill outlet capital of America. The post caught fire and within weeks, the city council was discussing pet stores and puppy mills. In the end, the city didn't take any action - they are waiting to see the outcome of a lawsuit filed in Cook County over an ordinance passed there.
I started this blog because of my passion for rescue and nothing breaks my heart more than the large number of pets left behind. I've written a variety of tips stories over he years focusing on what to think about before adopting a pet. This year, I took a different angle and headlined my posts - Think again before you adopt a shelter dog and Why you should think twice before adopting a kitten. The information was the same, but the positioning of the headlines caused a lot more views, shares and tons of debate. I hope I made a point.
While those stories were on yesterday's list, the next ones were not. One of my other favorite posts tackled an article in Crain's Chicago Business that tried to perpetuate the Myth of a Chicago puppy shortage. The article was posted as animal advocates were about to go to city council to ban the sale of puppy mill dogs in city pet stores. The Crain's article was rife with errors and didn't reflect what was going on in our rescue community. In the end, much of the rescue community spoke out against the article.
Pet Stores, Puppy Mills and more
It was a banner year in Chicago with both the city council and Cook County Board banning the sale of puppy mill dogs and kitten mill cats in pet stores. The city ordinance was two years in the making and I was very proud the work my friends had done on the law as I watched the city council approve the measure 49-1. I wrote so much on the topic this year and I was so very close to it.
But, my favorite post was about what happens when stores don't sell puppies and kittens - Why banning the sale of dogs and cats won't close pet stores. This post looked at the independent pet store chains that are expanding - Kriser's and Bentley's Corner Barkery - and other stores that are thriving despite never selling puppies. It also looked at Dog Patch Pet and Feed in Naperville, a store that has gone Humane and is going gang-busters.
Another post this summer tackled those who thought I was picking on the poor pet stores like Petland and Happiness is Pets - How about get a real job and stop picking on companies. This post connected the dots and showed the paper trail between the poor innocent stores and the puppy mills that send them product.
Sad posts I loved anyway
Some of my favorite posts are triumphs, but a couple of my all time favorites were far from it. Sadness and heartbreak are all part of animal rescue. A year ago, one of my favorite posts was Five minutes to heartbreak...this year two other sad posts are on the list. The heartbreak of saying good bye is my more personal story of Five Minutes to Heartbreak. It focused on our heartbreak of losing our 15 year old cat eight years ago and how I wished I could have done more...when in reality so many pets die too young everyday because their families leave them behind in animal controls.
The other story is a follow up on yesterdays story - Jack Sparrow's bucket list. That post focused on an abused stray that was rescued, had a stroke and was diagnosed with fast spreading cancers. His rescuers decided to shower him with love and let him live out the ultimate dog's bucket list. My heartbreaking follow up was a week later - Jack Sparrow Runs Free - that was my own personal tribute as Jack was running free, without pain at the Rainbow Bridge.
To happy endings
There were happier stories on my blog this year. Team USA goes to the dogs was a follow up on the stories about the dog exterminations going on in Russia prior to the Olympics. It focused on the work USA Olympians were doing to help the dogs and yes, rescue some to bring back to America. (My fellow blogger Steve Dale wrote extensively on the issue in Sochi.)
What happens when you get at Two-Legged Pit Bull, a Rude Dog and two dynamite animal advocates with a passion for keeping pets out of rescue - Meet the Six Legs Foundation. Founded this year by Heather Owen and Kelly Michael (Rude Dogs and Fifty's moms) the Six Legs Foundation provides financial help to keep pets with their family through sickness and tough times.
Cats, cats and more cats
I may write a lot about puppy mills, but I've been owned by cats my whole life. I'm also proud to be a Crazy Cat Lady (and blogged to prove it). That was one of many favorite posts including - If you're patient, the right cat will pick you - that talked about being picked by a cat at the shelter and told the story of my own Scarlett (the guardian angel of this blog).
My other two favorite cat stories involved Scarlett's former shelter - Tree House Humane Society - and their joint work in the Chicago community to make life better for stray and feral cats. Collaborative effort helps Polar Vortex cat find rescue and a home tells of the joint effort of CARF and Tree House to save a stray cat from freezing to death - a cat that was quickly adopted. I also liked the two follow ups on the story about feral cats at Hawthorne Race Track. The first talked about the collaborative work to help the cats and second was their plan for he future.
A happy spring day for Millie
That brings us full circle to puppy mills and one of my favorite puppy mill rescues. Millie was a puppy mill mamma for a long time before being rescued by the National Mill Dog Rescue and adopted by my friend Cari Meyer of the Puppy Mill Project. Playtime for Millie: A puppy mill rescue's spring day tells the story of the day this past spring that Millie finally really enjoyed running and playing in the yard. Millie just spent her second Christmas in her forever home, overseeing Millie's Rescue Mission - her fund that helps defray the medical expenses of rescued mill dogs.
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