Last Thursday night, we celebrated the opening of our new offices here in the nation’s capital. Now, most people know that we’ve been around for 134 years and have done just fine without a permanent D.C. presence. Why here, why now, you may ask? Here are excerpts from the remarks I made as we dedicated our new national office with our special guests, national ambassadors, board of directors, and friends of American Humane Association.
Why here? Some people think of Washington as a center of power. We think of it a little differently. Much more than being the center of power, Washington is really the intersection of our national values. And that’s where we want to be physically, because that’s where we’ve been philosophically since 1877.
Since long before most anyone believed that children had rights or that animals were anything other than the property of their owners, we’ve been championing the core American values of compassion, caring and hope. We embrace compassion for the most vulnerable among us; caring through groundbreaking research and innovative programs that improve lives; and hope for a world in which every child and every animal lives a life free of cruelty, abuse and neglect.
Our dozens of initiatives, both on the ground and at the policy level, all drive toward the three interconnected pillars of our fundamental mission: Enhance the well-being of children, promote the welfare of animals, and strengthen the human-animal bond. So that’s why we’re here — to mutually reinforce these core American values.
Why now? Frankly, we are here now because we’re at a moment in history. The good news is all about how far we’ve come. Children don’t work in factories anymore, and strong laws are in place that — when they work — protect children from abuse and neglect. Animals also benefit from legal protections and evolving societal norms that were unimaginable even a generation ago. And every day, new research is yielding scientific evidence of what I’m sure everyone in this room already knows in their hearts: There is something truly profound and deeply beneficial in the bond we share with animals.
But so much more needs to be done. And the challenges we face today– and tomorrow — are often more subtle, but no less grave, than the ones we’ve made so much progress on to date.
Protecting children and animals will always be a ground game — neighborhood to neighborhood and house to house. But the time is now to ratchet up our policy game as well. Being here will enable American Humane Association to extend our reach and expand our ability to advocate for the common-sense programs and funding priorities that America supports.
In short, we’re here now to add our voice to the growing chorus of voices of people who yearn for a more humane and compassionate world, and who know that such a world won’t come into being on its own.
So, thank you again for joining us tonight to welcome us. We look forward to working with each and every one of you as we partner to transform our shared vision into a shared reality — for children, for animals and for us all.