Living life with compassion

I have a calling as many people do. Mine is to help create a humane society – one in which we show animals respect, rather than subject them to neglect and violence. It became clear to me 10 years ago when I found a stray, sick puppy in central Phoenix. I nursed him back to health, named him Zeus, and to this day, he’s an integral part of our family.

Zeus taught me so many things; most importantly, to be brave. This dog, thrown away like someone’s trash, changed my life. Rescuing Zeus led me to recognize that millions of healthy, friendly dogs and cats are euthanized every year throughout shelters in the United States because they lack loving families to adopt them.

Once I learned this, there was no turning back. My path was clear. I dedicated my life to advocating on behalf of all animals that endure unnecessary cruelty and suffering.

My friends and I started Help a Dog Smile, an all-volunteer nonprofit organization. We rescue dogs from deplorable situations, rehabilitate them, and find them forever, loving homes. With the unwavering dedication and support of amazing friends and family, we have helped more than 1,000 companion animals in the past 10 years.

Saving dogs helped me become aware of how many other animals are in need of our protection – animals who suffer cruelty beyond our comprehension. On factory farms, chickens, cows, pigs, sheep and other animals endure egregious acts of torture that if done to Zeus would be criminal.

As an outreach coordinator for The Humane Society of the United States, the largest animal protection organization in the world, I partner with schools, universities, hospitals and corporations in helping them serve more plant-based proteins, including fruits, vegetables, nuts and whole grains. In these mutually beneficial relationships, we work together to achieve a more humane society by reducing or replacing consumption of animal products, and refining diets by choosing products from sources that adhere to higher animal welfare standards.

We all make choices every single day that affect animals in profound ways. By choosing compassion – whether by helping a homeless dog or enjoying more plant-based meals – we all have the power to make a difference in the lives of others.

When we see suffering or pain, it is instinctual to want to take action. We often hesitate because of fear and doubt. Once we put those two aside, we can accomplish so much more than we could have ever dreamed. Every one of us is capable of helping animals and creating a more compassionate world every day. We need only to take the first step.

Josephine Morris is the co-founder of Help a Dog Smile and Food Policy Outreach Coordinator for The Humane Society of the United States. For more information, visit HelpADogSmile.org and HumaneSociety.org.