Who’s your best friend? If he or she walks on four legs instead of two, you’re no doubt a real animal lover.

Animal companions have enriched our lives since time began, but like everything else, their world has changed dramatically over the last several decades, and change is ongoing.

No longer do we turn exclusively to breeders for our pets. We use the internet to connect to a vast network of rescue organizations. We adopt from community shelters, many of which have implemented programs to improve care and greatly reduce euthanasia.

Although 2.5 million animals are still euthanized each year, the Humane Society of the United States says euthanasia rates dropped more than 60 percent from 1973 to 2007.

Positive change for animals is due in large part to a new way of thinking about homeless and even abused and neglected pets. They’re not creatures that no one wants. They are animals that someone didn’t want. Many turn out to be the most wonderful pets once given a caring and loving home.

There’s a virtual army of people who tirelessly volunteer, organize non-profit groups, and work within their communities for change.  They walk dogs and cuddle cats in shelters. They educate, transport, and rescue.

They foster, train, rehabilitate, and donate. They’re driven to do this work for animals that cannot help themselves.

I’ll be writing each week about many of these people and the work they do to make this world a more caring and humane place for animals.

Many of my posts will have a video component too, to bring these stories to you through pictures as well as words.

One example is Wendy Zabicki of Carroll County, a dog trainer and behaviorist, registered veterinary technician, pet-sitter, and also the creator of Midnight’s Horse Rescue and Sanctuary.

Running her sanctuary is time-consuming and expensive. Raising funds and finding volunteers are ongoing struggles. 24 hours seem not quite enough to finish her work each day.

Yet she keeps going. After all, if it weren’t for her, the horses would have no one.

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