In a Humane World

By Stevi Stoesz Kersh

I’m not typically a disruptor. In recent weeks, I’ve seen plenty of disruption. From rally cries to protest marches, throngs of Americans have gathered to galvanize their political and philosophical like-minded beliefs. I’ve actively taken part in some of these public protests (don’t tell my Mom—her activism is done more privately).

   In the past several years I’ve also seen a disruption in an approach to business that affects industries from agriculture to pharmaceuticals and cosmetics, and it’s being driven by conscience and creativity. It stems from consumer awareness about how animals are treated on factory farms, in circuses and puppy mills, and in theme parks. They are used and abused for entertainment purposes, for human consumption, and as household pets.

   There is profound momentum in the animal protection movement. Companies and organizations, large and small, are hearing the demands of a society that will no longer accept methods that harm and endanger our animal populations.

   Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus recently announced its closure, much to the delight of animal rights advocates across the nation. Years of declining attendance due, at least in part, to consumer awareness regarding the horrible treatment and conditions for circus animals meant that operating the circus no longer made economic sense.

   A documentary about Sea World’s tactics of plucking young calves from their mothers and families in the wild demonstrated the stress and trauma that Orcas experience while held captive in small, steel cages, away from their families to whom they have intense social and genetic connections.

   There are several ways to get involved at the local level.

Humane Society of the United States – Indiana State Council

The HSUS Indiana State Director, Erin Huang, is a former prosecutor who specialized in animal cruelty crimes. Erin is working to protect all animals in Indiana, with an emphasis on spay/neuter outreach, and on banning the cruel practice of captive hunts. Erin is always looking for animal advocates to work on issues around the state, including breed specific legislation and captive hunts. Every year volunteers are encouraged to participate in Humane Lobby Day during Indiana’s legislative session. Volunteers meet with legislators to talk about local animal welfare issues.

Local Shelters

Local animal shelters are always in need of volunteers to donate their time, products, and resources. Getting started is a fairly simple process. Whether you walk dogs or clean cages at your shelter, stuff envelopes for an educational or fundraising campaign, or help put on an event, you can make a huge difference in the lives of animals.

   As a shelter volunteer, you’ll experience the benefit of being part of the solution by spreading the message of responsible pet ownership and animal protection. You’ll also get to hang out with some amazing animals that likely need the comfort, love, and affection you can provide. You’ll get to enjoy sloppy dog kisses or the purr of a loving cat in return.
    To find out more about other volunteer opportunities in your community, visit, where many groups post opportunities. You can search by term (i.e. “animals”) and your zip code to find organizations near you.

   If you still don’t find something that is convenient, you can contact your local humane society, animal rescue, or animal shelter to offer your services. To locate those local groups, please visit the Shelter Pet Project, enter your zip code, and click “search.”

Animal Transport Groups

There are several local rescue transport groups whose mission is to pluck dogs from high-kill shelters or other undesirable situations and deliver them to no-kill shelters, or foster/forever homes. These groups regularly do multi-day transports in a leg-to-leg, ground relay scenario for one or several dogs. These “Underdog Railway” groups often need drivers, transport monitors, and overnight accommodators. What you, as a volunteer, sacrifice is a little bit of time, some gas, and sometimes braving the elements. But what you get in return is absolutely immeasurable, knowing that you’ve been a part of saving lives and living humanely.

Indiana Animal Rights Alliance

The Indiana Animal Rights Alliance is committed to the belief that animals have the right to be completely free from human violence, and that animals are not here for us to profit from or exploit in any way. IARA promotes a plant-based lifestyle and denounces the use of animals for food, clothing, or lab experimentation.

   The Indiana Animal Rights Alliance is active in the community in many ways, including:

  • · Promoting plant-based diets in a positive way and helping people in the community to make the transition to plant-based diet.

  • · Public demonstrations to bring awareness to various forms of animal abuse.

  • · Writing letters and making phone calls to businesses to encourage them to end practices that contribute directly or indirectly to animal cruelty.

  • · Movie viewings, special speakers and other events open to the public for people to learn more about what they can do to help end animal abuse.

  • · Outreach to local restaurants to encourage them to add more healthy, vegan options to their menus.

  • · Providing speakers and literature at public events, classrooms and fielding other requests for interviews and public engagements.

Stevi Stoesz Kersh is an avid animal welfare advocate. Stevi volunteers for several local animal welfare organizations, and is a member of the Indiana State Council for the Humane Society of the United States. She founded the Original Farmers’ Market in 1997 and was a featured speaker at the Project For Public Spaces’s 4th and 9th International Public Markets Conference in Seattle, Washington and Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain, respectively. Stevi sits on the advisory board for The Elephant Project, an organization committed to preserving the African and Asian elephant populations. She lives in Indianapolis with her husband, Jason, German Shepherds Bunker and Gizmo, and terrier Lizzie Lou. She can be reached at


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