Article By James Hart
Los Angeles has been described as a group of disparate communities loosely tied together by government and regulation. In many ways a city, county, state, country or even the world can be described in the same manner. In the presence of great crisis, however, this theory is hard pressed to stay relevant as time and time again we see communities of various sizes, including the world at large, come together to help one another. A tornado, tsunami, bombing occurs and in these moments people stop their lives to help others they do not know and have no vested interest in. It may be that humanity is simply at its best in the presence of great challenges. But assuredly It is in these cauldrons of tragedy, fear and strife that heroes are born, for what is a hero but a person who stands up when aid is needed and answers, "Yes. Me. I will help."
In the spring of 2012 Hope For Paws and Bill Foundation, two dog rescues located in Los Angeles that had no prior relationship, came together over a dog named Ralph. Ralph was a scared, aggressive street dog that Hope For Paws rescued and subsequently produced a wildly successful internet video documenting it. Again, Ralph was aggressive and a location was needed where he could recover. It was by chance that at this time a mutual friend introduced Hope For Paws to the Bill Foundation, the second Los Angeles rescue in this story.
Annie Hart (the executive director for Bill Foundation) recalls, "Ralph's video touched my heart, and watching the way Eldad worked with him inspired me to not only dive deeper into rescue, but also become a part of Ralph's story. We took Ralph in and through a lot of hard work and a little luck, we got Ralph the help he needed and ultimately found him an incredible forever home."
Ralph was a challenge and victory for both organizations but it soon became evident it was not the end of the partnership between the two rescues. Each of these charities has a different focus, a different mission, but with the same end goal of saving dogs in need. The two saw a special partnership and have ultimately joined forces time and again, each drawing from the other's strength and building on their successes to save more lives, reach more people, and forge a new community. Their "village" as Bill Foundation refers to it, is not held together by geography, laws, or government - but rather by a common cause.
It is with great purpose that their tens of thousands of fans consume Bill Foundation and Hope For Paws' social media efforts each day, but it is not entertainment or voyeurism that draws these viewers in. It is a sense that they are a part of this community, this movement, and their engagement is a testament that a persons ability to care is only limited by the opportunity they have to be involved.
Last year in a particularly harrowing rescue there was a dog named Biggie trapped in the Los Angeles river. With no opening, staircase, or ramp to reach to Biggie, Eldad Hagar (Hope For Paws) climbed down on a rickety ladder and managed to get this huge animal into a crate safely. Then, as the video shows, they realized the problem of how to get a 100 pound dog in a crate 20 feet up a sheer concrete wall. Annie Hart had stayed atop and rallied a group of Angelinos who donated their time, bodies and equipment to rig a makeshift pulley system and lift Biggie to safety. None asked for anything in return.
This year there were two dogs in a large open field and when these rescues called for aid, more than 40 people, who had never met showed up at 7 am on Sunday morning. Their mission to was to help save these dogs. They did indeed save these two dogs, plus another they found during the rescue. And they did this seeking no fanfare or credit. The just wanted to help.
Most recently, a dog named Bethany was stricken with severe mange and bacterial infections that were killing her. She could barely walk when these two rescues brought her into the vet. They began treatment for her and gave a plea to their community for help, showing a photo Annie took of Eldad and Bethany (photo below), just after her rescue. This image of Eldad and Bethany represents all that our community stands for - Whether you rescue, foster, adopt, volunteer or donate; We stand together, arm in paw, united by hope.
Donations, offers to foster, and applications for adoptions started to come in minutes later. This is all because everyone involved with both Bill Foundation and Hope For Paws (from staff to fans) feels personally vested in the cause, they feel an obligation to help, because they are a part of something. Or perhaps it is because they want to be part of something, a choice to participate. (continued below)
One look at a census and it is evident that Los Angeles is populated by an itinerant people. It is a city of immigrants, much as the United States is a country of immigrants - the majority of families hail from a faraway land they have never seen and do not know. This makes Americans (and especially Angelinos) nomadic, searching for where, who and what they will call home. The next great opportunity of life is that an individual gets to decide what their passions will be. While everyone's passion is not their career, with more than 17.2 million YouTube views, 200,000 Facebook Followers, and celebrated media coverage ranging from Huffington Post, the Daily Mail, MSN, CNN, and People it is clear that these dog rescuer's dedication for saving lives is shared by many, many others who now have a connection to these rescue's journeys and a home for their own hearts.
Bill Foundation and Hope For Paws have garnered the support of thousands. They and their followers have joined hands to accomplish something worthwhile - saving lives - and they have found that in joining together, their mission is stronger for it.
For a community to follow, someone must first lead. A policeman who marches in first. A firefighter who refuses to quit. A hero who stands up and says, "Yes. Me, I will help."
Perhaps Los Angeles, and the world at large is not destined to be a collection of loosely tied together disparate communities, but over time it could become an integrated metropolis bound with common purpose. The question that remains is how many will stand up and say, "Yes. Me. I will help." because as Bill Foundation often says, "It takes a Village." And they're right.
To find out how to get this iconic photo and help Hope For Paws & Bill Foundation continue saving lives together, please visit http:www.hopeforpaws.org
Be sure to check back later this week for an exclusive interview with Eldad about Fiona and the effect her video has had on Hope For Paws and the rescue community. PLUS NEW NEVER BEEN SEEN PHOTOS NEW PHOTOS OF FIONA! The one below is the first of several we will unveil :-)