Episode 6 – Debby Hartten

In this episode, we talk with Debby Hartten, Founder of Generation Wags, a program of ReLove Animals, Inc. Debby tells us about the diverse issues contributing to pet homelessness and other pet related topics in our society today. She talks about how the journey started, programs initiated through Generation Wags and how you can help. You can learn more about Generation Wags on their website at http://www.generationwags.com/

Check out this episode!“Welcome to the Professionals and Animal Rescue podcast, where goal is to introduce you two amazing people helping animals and share how you can get involved with animal rescue. This’ll Podcast is probably sponsored by do bert dot com. Do Bert is a free website designed to connect volunteers with rescues and shelters and the only site that automates rescue really transport. Now on with our show today, we’re talking with Debbie Harden. Debbie is the founder of Generation Wags, which is an organization that she created as the outgrowth of a personal passion. That journey continues to expand to unfold. It unravel the divers issues, contributing to pet homelessness and other pet related topics in our society. Today, Debbie is a firm believer that you can’t fix what you don’t know. So her journey began with her learning about the issues surrounding pet homelessness in order to share these challenges and opportunities with others. Debbie’s quest to connect the dots and put together the pieces of the puzzle for herself inspired her to do the same for others. Hi, Debby. Welcome to the program. Hi, Chris. How are you? Thanks for having me. Great. So tell us a little bit about you and generation legs generation lacks. I started 45 years ago, and I started it on my own. But in last few years, I’ve become the program manager for under a nonprofit called Re Love. Animals and generation ones is really trying to educate people sort of about the, um understanding the connection between pet ownership and how whether you do things right or wrong or what the issues out there that contribute to pets falling into the rescue system. So is trying to really have people have a better understanding as to where Russkies come from to begin with and also educate them as to some measures that they can take to try Thio circumvent that situation from occurring? So is prevention. Sure. So what made you want to do this? I mean, there’s so many rescue groups and people out there. What made you take this angle? Actually started it because I was doing some local donation drives for various rescues in my community. And while I had always had rescue animals, I near my only interface with um with the rescue groups themselves was to like a Jew in a van or apply for a patent rescue it and then my interaction went away and I just had the pet as my own. But as I interacted with the different groups and I had maybe seven or eight, I was trying to have drives for as many as I could serve during a holiday season. I got to talking to a lot of them and became much more aware up the different issues related Thio rescue itself and now again, kind of became educated myself is to you know, where they came from. And all of the struggles that the rescue groups go through really got a good, you know, firm understanding as to what’s behind the scenes. Basically, So I just my backgrounds and communications and marketing, and I felt that it would be better to use my talents to try to share what I was learning. And it’s been a continued journey, but you use my skills to share that with others rather than working with one particular rescue and kind of limiting what my contribution. Waas so decided Thio start generation lags and it continues to grow as my knowledge has continued to grow, so it’s sort of a resource for other rescues and for people wanting to learn more about rescue. Yeah, it’s actually, it’s more. Well, it does have some stuff for rescues and, you know, rescue people. I mean, they all kind of are in their own little area of expertise of what they’re doing. So I kind of think that rescue people also as knowledgeable as they are, there are other issues that you know they may not fully even understand of ways that sometimes the animals come into system. But it’s also for just general pet owners and people in general who really don’t fully understand. We’re know how they can help rescues if they can’t adopt right now or, you know, get actively involved. So I do have, like, volunteer opportunities. And so is trying to really just kind of share awareness in general about what rescue is all about and how to get involved. And also how to help for that. The continued, you know, breast pets in crisis situations that ball into the rescue system. Sure, yeah, that’s a really unique angle. So what? What are the areas that you really focus on? W. What can people find? Well, I tried Thio do have like issues and solutions, so that can go from anywhere from a breed discrimination and lost and found animals, which is one of my major focuses but also like chaining and tethering and animal abuse and owner surrenders and puppy mills. So it tries to kind of set the stage is to you know, lots of different challenges that are in the industry and then sort of solutions and what’s being done. I will have some occasional articles or ought to have some basic resource is in certain areas that people can kind of get a little bit more of an understanding. And I also include links to, like legislative information, the links in their state so they can kind of become more knowledgeable and then specifically again for the pet owner I get into. I have a section called Get Educated and is trying to educate them about from selecting their pet to navigating the adoption process and understanding that how they either how they care for their pet or view their pet interface there, either setting them up, you know, to really succeed as a you know, a great relationship with their pet Or perhaps you know, putting there hat in a situation where they may get at risk. For example, a dog that isn’t well trained while they may not wanna have them trained per se to, you know, to a really large degree, but understanding that if a dog is not well behaved in general and they don’t address that early on than that dog could easily falling to the rescue system because, like if something happened to them or say it bites somebody because they’re not controlled or whatever, then it sets them up to be endangered by ending up in a shelter or possibly euthanized. So it’s really that connection to understanding where our responsibility is on DDE, what we can do to, you know, protect them and also have a more fulfilling relationship with our own pets. Yeah, now that’s really interesting, And you mentioned that you’ve got a background in marketing and communications. So how did you get into animal rescue? Actually again, I’ve always had pets, and it was really starting with this donation drive that I was doing, which was a gift back that I was doing this part of one of my a couple of different jobs that I have. I work in a couple of different areas, and I decided to do the donation drive serve as a give back for the holiday season. So it was related to that. And that just kind of launched me into it because, you know, I did have the opportunity to get to know people much more. And, you know, although I felt that I was fairly well educated about rescue animals having had them, I realized how little I did know. And again I felt like, Well, as much as I thought I knew, and obviously I don’t There are so many people like me out there. So I’m just going to, you know, continue to learn and continue to share what I am learning with others and hopes that you know, they will want to get involved more or understand they could donate. They can, you know, like the donation drives. I mean, a lot of I think that one of the things that struck me was that a lot of times people have this barrier where they say, Oh, rescue dog or cat I can’t really adopt and they feel like that’s the end of the conversation and I’m like, Well, there’s so much more you can d’oh! You know And a lot of people really don’t even understand all of the ways that they can interface on give back if they care and feel frustrated. Maybe that they can’t own one right now, so it gives them opportunity. So that was kind of the first start with some of the knowledge that it was gaining. Was like, Well, this these are other ways that you can help basically, And then it’s kind of grown from their terms of advocacy and trying to let people know that you know, they can take a role, you know, even if they can’t have a pet. Yeah, no, that’s really cool. What’s your What’s your goal for this? What’s your you know, in Debbie’s dreamworld? What does generation wanks become? Well, that’s a good question. Obviously, you know, when you’re educating and it’s an ongoing process, it’s a hard nut to crack. I really think that just trying to get people to kind of take a different perspective on pets and to recognize you know, it’s just all trying to get more more information out, I guess in general, like I’d like to do more videos or, you know, come up with some other ways that I can share on a broader in a broader way to touch people and get them to recognize, you know, kind of their side of the pet ownership. I think that sometimes we you know, pets are so wonderful and we bring them into our homes. And while we love them, et cetera, we often take them for granted. And we don’t really take a step back and think about you know what we’re giving back to them. We always talk about how they are, you know, just unconditional love. But we don’t always return that bullied and think about how we are contributing to their lives, you know, in different ways. So it’s really and it’s also the education of accepting them for you know what, who they are. And some of them you know, we’ll have certain traits and not others and just s Oh, but it’s all about education. So in my dream world, I would like everybody to be a better pet parent and take precautions to keep them safe. But it’s an ongoing process, obviously. Yeah, for sure. So What are the biggest challenges that you face with generation wags? You know, I would say having were volunteers to help main, to get the word out and to activates some initiatives that I’ve started, you know, in different parts of the country. I do have the sink with love tagged Ship Challenge, which is trying to get people thio understand the importance of having a visible tag and a chip on their pets. Um, I am starting to get some people that kind of activate and tie in with that in other parts of the country with different microchipping clinics that they’re doing etcetera. So it’s really just trying to get a base of people that can kind of take some of the information and vision that I have, I think, and sharing it in other parts of the country while it’s on the Web. And it’s a resource. I kind of see a lot of what I’m putting out as kind of a tool box of people can utilize to connect and just kind of sort of as an umbrella for some activities that you are really, honestly taking place elsewhere. But you know, somehow, by maybe pull it together like with love, tag chip. And I always say it always starts with love and but, you know, having people recognize that and pull it together, it makes it easier for them to, you know, share the importance of it all and kind of just capsulize Is it a little bit more? Yeah. How do you measure the impact of all of this? You’ve got so much great stuff out there. How do you keep track of how people are using it and the impact that you’re having on Pats? Well, that again is hard because, you know, it’s basically Web based. I am in Maryland and I do some events locally. I am in touch with people around the country on I am interfacing on different things. So I think in terms of, you know, besides just traffic to the website or whatever or interaction on the Facebook page, for example, it’s, you know, it’s kind of one at a time. And even when I do events and what I do with my love tech chip challenge when I’m in the community, is I partner with, like a veterinarian or a rescue group of just microchipping and So when I’m out in the community and I’m talking to people, it’s just, you know, it’s really rewarding when I have somebody you know oftentimes will say, Wow, I never really thought about that or, you know, I really appreciate the information. I’ll have to go back and do that. So it’s kind of, you know, the most rewarding for me is kind of the one on one, because I know that I’ve, you know, actually gotten through to somebody about some information that might keep that pet safer. Yeah, You put so much time in an effort into this, Debbie, it’s so, so easy to see just from looking at your website. How do you How do you motivate yourself? How do you stay? Motivated to keep doing this? Well, you know, I think like, like most of us in the animal Abasi world, which, you know, I feel fortunate that I really feel after this many years, I am a part of I think that you just have a passion and that, you know, I think all of us who are involved as you even walk around in your day to day life, you see, things are you talking to somebody, and it’s just something that you know. You feel so strongly about that you want to help in whatever way that you can. So I think it’s Ah, you know, just it’s Spurs. You want to keep doing better and knowing that there are so many needs out there and, you know, just trying to share whatever you can. So it’s just really the passion and things I think that keeps me going. That’s really great. Well, we appreciate what you do. Debbie. Is there anything else you wanted to share with us? Well, I would just say that you lost pets. Thing is a major focus for me. I did just start something called Unite to Reunite. There’s information on generation wives dot com about that as well, and in terms of rescues and the shelter, community and stuff. The connection with the lost pets is so huge because there are so many pets go missing that are never reunited. And with luck, tech chip challenged. The deadline at the end is to keep your pet safe, safe a shelter space. So many of these paths, and with shorter Whole Period’s etcetera and rescues that pulls from shelters in short order, often because you know there’s a shelters over capacity or their bring specific rescues that are assisting shelters to, you know, reduce their intake. These pets can very quickly move from, you know, a stray in a shelter setting. Or sometimes people don’t even take him to the shelter, and they just turn him over to a friend, not knowing or not thinking about. I need to get to Pilsen on stuff so so re not United reunite. It’s really kind of about trying to go to the community, to have people come together, to recognize and to work towards getting the word out. Learning about doing your due diligence of reporting rescues you. No need to make sure that they are doing their share and making sure that someone turns it over. They kind of really get us much information as they can to make sure that it’s not an owner looking for someone or for their pet. And the other thing is that, um, I would just say another aspect with the whole generation, wives and and rescue is that I think in general rescues have become much better with this is because rescuers want to rescue and they see a need and they jump in. There had been and again I think it’s a changing tide that you would see a dog that was dishevelled we’re not taking care of or whatever. And the immediate thing would be, Oh my God, this pet has not been cared for. It’s obviously no one’s pad or it hasn’t been loved and we need to save it versus this Pat could be missing and, you know, very shortly they can become to shovel or whatever. And, you know, somebody could be out there looking for them. So there’s that whole mindset I think that needs to change and to do not jump to conclusions that a pet that’s not in good shape, um, is not love. I do a weekly block called Monday Microchip miracles and there are pets, you know. They’re from all over the country. But there are some that have been missing, you know, a week two months to seven years. And in that time frame they could have traveled across the country, been taken in by somebody, even re homed again and again. So the jump to assuming that you know a missing pat is not someone’s beloved pet is something that I think you know. Rescuers are are dressing more. But it’s important for the general public to understand that, too, because they they need to do what they can to make sure that they are doing all that. They can get the word out for a possible owner who’s looking for the pet. Sure, no, that’s great information. Well, Debbie, thank you so much for coming on and sharing with us. We really appreciate it. Oh, thank you so much and thank you for all that you’re doing, because it’s very important. Thanks, Toby. Thanks for tuning into today’s podcast. If you’re not already a member, join the Air P A. To take advantage of all the resources we have to offer. And don’t forget to sign up with do bert dot com. It’s free and helps automate the most difficult tasks in animal rescue”

This show is available on