In every social movement there is a moment when everything changes. Whether that moment is a university admission, a protest, or a speech by a leader is irrelevant. The moment itself is what matters, because afterwards – nothing is ever the same.
Last year, animal rescue had their moment.
In March of 2012, Hope For Paws released a video documenting their rescue of Fiona, a blind dog they found in a heap of trash. Eldad and Audrey Hagar already had a long history of documenting their rescues, with more than 130 YouTube videos to their credit and just over 1,000,000 YouTube views.
Little did they know that Fiona’s video would change everything not only for their rescue, but the animal loving community at large.
Fiona’s story is the ultimate celebration of the journey from tragedy to triumph. It begins with a dire situation about a blind, homeless dog living in a rough neighborhood, struggling to survive. By nothing short of a miracle, two loving people find her, and make the impossible, possible. They provide this dog with a surgery to restore her vision, and give her a second chance at life.
The day the Hagar’s posted Fiona’s video, it took the world by storm. Animal lovers, advocates and everyday people all felt a connection to Fiona and within days it hit dozens of major news sources around the world. The Hagar’s were flooded with calls, emails, donations and people just wanting to say thank you.
Fiona, Just after being rescued
It was right about this time I met Eldad and I actually wasn’t aware of Fiona’s video. I had asked him for some tips to raise money for a very sick dog we had at Bill Foundation. Instead, he called the vet and paid the ENTIRE bill for our pup. He emailed me and let me know that it was because of Fiona and her video that he was able to “pay it forward” and help us and other rescues with veterinary costs.
I sat in awe of his generosity and desire to help others, help animals. And I hoped that I could learn a thing or two from him. Here we are, more than a year later and I have indeed learned so much from him and also now call him my dear friend.
The other day we sat down and starting talking about Fiona’s effect on the world and it was the first time Eldad has had the chance to truly reflect on all that has occurred since the video went viral 15 months ago.
As it turns out Eldad did not start making these videos as a path to notoriety or in an effort to raise money. The initial videos were made for his parents some 10,000 miles across an ocean so they could participate in his life and see what their son was up to half a world away. In fact, it is the whole reason his channel has the simple name Eldad75 instead of something clever associated with the rescue. He was doing it for fun. Only later, when he saw how people started to engage in the process (and the cause) did he realise this could be something special. As he says, “Making videos captures important moments in my life, but part of what I do is share my life with the world to help raise awareness. The potential good that now comes out of these videos is so significant, I feel a major responsibility to continue making them.”
Indeed the central theme of raising awareness and engaging a community into action rises well above any thoughts of ego or self-aggrandizing. The focus must always be placed on the cause and the specific need that is present. Well, if that is the case why the music, the production quality, why the need for a video at all?
“Videos are a good way to reach a lot of people and show them how one person can make a difference. I know now after all this time, people do learn from these videos and take action because of them. Veterinary schools use them as an educational tool and shelter supervisors show them to their staff in order to teach them to slow down when working with the scared animals.”
“As for the music, it started as a way to mask loud street noise and awkward cuts from scene to scene, but it turned into finding music that helped match the emotion of the video. In Fiona’s video, Audrey found the perfect piece of music and if you listen to the lyrics, they move well with her story and truly enhance the viewers/listeners experience.”
So Hope For Paws, Bill Foundation, and the charities they partner with band together and try to pay it forward with the notoriety they receive - yes to help individual animals in need but also for the greater prize. To work toward the moment when more and more individuals reconnect with animals, great mobs of people band together and join the rescue effort, and a vast ocean of souls stand up as the protectors, gaurdians, and companions of man’s oldest, kindest, and best friend…as we were always meant to.
“The bottom line is that we are a small organization and can only do so much, but our videos have reached millions and have inspired others to become a part of rescue.
And the millions of followers these organisations have brought together have coellesced into something more than a testiment to fandom. They have become a community dedicated to their dogs, each other and the cause.
Some hear all this and think these rescuers and their fans are crazy, but to quote Margaret Mead, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”
And Remember to DONATE so that Hope For Paws can continue saving dogs like Fiona :-) Imagine if everyone donated $5.00 (the cost of your daily latte), how much good would come of it!
Fiona June 24th, 2013
Fiona June 24th, 2013