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David Crawford is co-founder and executive director of Animal Help Now. Dave convened the first national conference on prairie dogs – the 2001 Prairie Dog Summit – and was central to the founding of the Prairie Dog Coalition. Dave helped write the country’s first state legislative bill to double fines for traffic infractions in wildlife crossing zones, and he produced the country’s first video exposing conditions inside intensive egg facilities.
You are one of the creators of Animal Help Now. What can you tell us about it?
We think of Animal Help Now (AHNow) as a wildlife 911.
AHNow makes it easy for people who encounter wildlife in need to find the closest, most appropriate wildlife rehabilitators and other wildlife emergency experts. Here’s how it works:
- You encounter injured, orphaned or distressed wildlife.
- You open the AHNow app.
- Tap Wildlife Emergency.
- Find a wildlife expert who handles the type of animal you’re helping and contact them.
It’s easy, and everyone wins.
From vehicle and window strikes to cat and dog attacks, billions of wild animals are injured in the United States each year from human-related causes.
Studies show that when people encounter a wildlife emergency, they want to help, but they don’t know how. Such situations can be extremely stressful.
Yet help is available. It’s just a matter of finding it.
AHNow sources its data from numerous agencies and nongovernmental organizations. It enhances and organizes this information to create the world’s best database of wildlife emergency experts. This includes numerous regional and state wildlife hotlines, including marine animal hotlines covering the entire US coast.
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How is Animal Help Now challenging the status quo?
Humans are failing miserably in our responsibilities to the planet, to the life it holds and to all who will follow. The needs and interests of our fellow animal species barely register as we go about our daily lives. In our pursuit of material wealth, comfort and convenience, we become more and more distant from nature. We are not even allowed to see the conditions inside the buildings housing the chickens and pigs we will soon eat. Machines impregnate and milk cows.
Wildlife habitat is destroyed to grow crops to fatten up animals for our plates, but the clearing of the rainforest is over there somewhere, out of sight.
No surviving habitat (which is to say, homes) escapes human pollution, not the highest peaks, not even the Mariana Trench.
The sixth extinction is well under way.
At AHNow we work against the distancing of humans from nature. We work to obliterate the artificial line drawn by humans to elevate us above the other species on the planet.
Our work is direct. We connect people who need help with a wildlife emergency with experts who can provide such help. We also connect people who want to be better neighbors to wildlife with humane experts. That’s the obvious part, and this could and should have been done intelligently and effectively long before AHNow came along.
The less obvious part is that we are enabling humans to re-establish healthy relationships with wildlife. Your average human wants to help a rabbit who has been injured in a dog attack. Your average human wants the skunk under the porch humanely removed.
Wildlife advocacy has tended to center around protecting endangered species and habitat. As such, it has overlooked wildlife in urban, suburban, exurban and rural environments. In doing so, it has failed to nurture the human/wildlife connection. Whether we like it or not, a parking ramp in a downtown metropolitan area is wildlife habitat, as is the neighborhood park and the community greenbelt. Wildlife habitat is what you see when you step outside, no matter where you are.
In empowering individuals to help wildlife in need and to be good neighbors to wildlife, AHNow is part of a larger effort to create community where none has existed. We are working to connect the thousands of people who use our service every month with one another and to help foster a deep appreciation for the natural world that immediately surrounds us.
This community mobilizes to amplify the voice for nature that rises when a major league sports team attempts to build a bird-killing stadium, when leaders of an outdoor-loving community proposes a leash law for cats, or when a small town in North Carolina abuses an opossum for the community’s entertainment. This community places a long-overdue high value on wildlife rehabilitation and wildlife emergency services.
What are the next steps for Animal Help Now?
There are so many opportunities in this underserved realm to save lives, reduce suffering, and provide a valuable service to the public. AHNow is in a major push for donors, high-level volunteers, and ambassadors. We outline our vision in our new four-minute video at www.AHNow.org/You.
AHNow will continue to develop strategic partnerships with like-minded organizations.
Our near-term goals include:
- Strengthening relationships with state agencies and improving our data
- Expanding AHNow internationally and engaging in emergency transportation (think “wildlife ambulance”) initiatives
- Raising awareness of Animal Help Now and wildlife rehabilitation and educating about mitigating threats to wildlife
- Building upon efforts to help people humanely resolve wildlife conflicts