BlogPaws Conference Speaker Mike Arms Offered Quality Content and Hope For Animal Shelters

Kudos to those who organized the BlogPaws West event in Denver. It was well run, well attended, and offered many speakers with differing opinions as well as areas of expertise.

It was a successful trip all around. Not only did I get to meet some incredible people, to whom I will introduce  you over the next few posts, but I got to wear a sweater and coming from Texas that is always a treat. The trip was also a success in that the number of take-offs equaled the number of landings.  Do I sound as if I don’t like flying? The woman next to me concluded that as well when I made that sudden grab for the armrest when we hit some turbulence. The armrest was folded up so I inadvertently embedded my nails in her thigh instead. She was very understanding, so a big “thank you” to the woman in seat 9B!

Opening Keynote Address

Mike Arms,with The Helen Woodward Animal Center, was the keynote speaker on Friday morning and was incredibly thought provoking. After telling a moving story of how he came to be such a passionate advocate for animal welfare, he branched out into territory that was somewhat controversial among the attendees, many who are deeply and passionately involved in rescue. But first, his story.

Mike’s Story

Mike’s background includes an accounting degree and armed with this he arrived in New York City in the 60′s looking for a job. He landed a job with the ASPCA, not because of his interest in animals but because of his accounting background. The job took its toll on his psyche and he handed in his resignation. As fate would have it, he never got very far from animal welfare. A dog had been hit by a car and because there was no one else available to pick up the dog, Mike jumped in the ambulance and proceeded to the location. As he prepared to move the injured dog a couple of guys approached him. Thinking they were possibly the owners he stopped and spoke to them. Turned out they were concerned alright. They had bets riding on when the dog would die and they weren’t happy that Mike was moving him. Long story short, Mike was stabbed and beaten with a baseball bat. But somehow the feisty little terrier “blend” pulled itself over to lick Mike’s face as, he thought, he lay dying. It was at this point that Mike promised, if he lived, to do everything he was capable of doing to protect and serve animals. As President of the Helen Woodward Animal Center he has helped an incredible number of animals and has changed, profoundly, the way that shelters are run.

I am certain he is a brilliant  motivational speaker, and though I have no background in business, I think it safe to say that he is a brilliant businessman as well.

And this is where the rub comes.  He was quite blunt in pointing out how not just antiquated, but positively antediluvian, the animal welfare sector is. It is run with heart and through well meaning volunteers for the most part but it is Mike’s belief, and the proof is in the pudding, that it is time to run it as a business. Pure and simple.

Among his accomplishments using this approach are  the wildly successful  Home 4 The Holidays Campaign, which in 2004 placed nearly 315,000 animals during that single holiday season, the Club Pet which is essentially a boarding facility but with the glamour that I could only wish my vacations had, and The Surf Dog Surf-a-Thon. His many efforts raise funds so that more and more dogs and cats, as well as horses, can be saved.

Mike’s Strengths

He had us in stitches, for instance when speaking of his daughter whom he always thought of as a blessed gift…till she turned 13.

He had us in tears. The statistics  he shared for shelter animals in Puerto Rico could give one nightmares.

But most of all, he left us with optimism because he showed us that the mission of shelters is an attainable one, and he can give us the tools. Mike and his team at The  Helen Woodward Animal Center conduct a free three-day seminar in which they share their fundraising strategies, marketing approaches, and educational concepts all based on the concept that animal “shelters” can be run successfully and profitably.

Read the Center’s latest newsletter to get a feel for the passion and depth Mike and others have inspired.

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4 Responses to “BlogPaws Conference Speaker Mike Arms Offered Quality Content and Hope For Animal Shelters”

  1. DogPackSnacks 13. Sep, 2010 at 3:56 pm #

    I could not make it to Blog Paws so I am soaking up all the info I can find from the attendees. Your post is my favorite so far. I am the adoption coordinator for Have A Heart – A South Florida Rescue and I am always looking for new ways to showcase of great dogs.

    Thanks for sharing what you learned.

  2. Elizabeth Deitz 14. Sep, 2010 at 12:44 pm #

    Are you planning to go to one of his free workshops? He has great ideas! I would love to go to one myself!

  3. Ken Perry 14. Sep, 2010 at 6:15 pm #

    AN interesting take on the business of rescue. Sounds like he is living up to his promise to do whatever he can do to promote the business of rescue. More power to him.


  1. BlogPaws WEST 2010 Recap - 15. Sep, 2010

    [...] Mike Arms, an inspirational and tear-filled keynote about animal care, welfare and shelters. Everyone was crying! Great synopsis here. [...]

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