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Thoughts from an Englishman on the Fourth of July

As we celebrate the Fourth of July, I can't help but reflect upon how grateful I am to be an American citizen. I was born in Britain, but chose to become a naturalized citizen of the United States in 1980.

When I first came to the States in 1971, the difference between here and England was palpable. I felt the openness and optimism of the country and a great sense of freedom and room to move, and the very real sense of possibility and potential. I could feel it and taste it, and I wanted to become a part of it, and so I did!

It didn’t take long for me to realize that the love of animals that I brought with me was matched by many Americans and shared by my new friends in this country.

Also, coming as I do from across the pond, I tend to notice things that others might take for granted. The generosity and friendliness of Americans, for example, is real, as is a basic fair-mindedness and sense of justice. In fact, as we celebrate this time of year, we also remember that this country is founded upon those principles.

And it is the essential fair-mindedness of the United States and the American public that gives me so much hope and enthusiasm for the future of our no-kill movement. No-kill is, after all, a question of fairness and justice, as it is neither fair nor just that millions of our best friends are dying in our nation's shelters, especially when the overwhelming number of Americans see their pets as a part of their family.

However, we don't need to interpret cultural traits to be optimistic about ending the killing of shelter pets. When I and the other co-founders of Best Friends broke ground on the Sanctuary in the desert of Southern Utah in 1984, over 17 million animals were dying in our nation's shelters. That number is now down to around 4 million, despite a human population increase of close to 90 million from then to now.

The progress in lifesaving that has been made over the last 30 years does not only reflect the sentiment of the American public. We carry with us a spirit of optimism and hope. A sense of confidence that we can achieve whatever we put our minds to. That progress in lifesaving is powered by the generosity of the majority of us who are just and fair-minded and who don't believe that household pets should be abandoned or killed.

The no-kill movement will succeed because it reflects the will of America and it is right. This week as we celebrate the 237th Fourth of July, I hope that you will join me in a commitment to realizing a great milestone in our country's history: the achievement of a no-kill country. I am more confident than ever that we will get there soon.

This is America; we can Save Them All!
Gregory Castle, CEO emeritus, Best Friends Animal Society Gregory Castle
CEO emeritus
Best Friends Animal Society