Patty Shenker Founds the Animal Advocacy Museum to Touch Our Hearts
She’s petite, elegant, and beautiful but the power of Patty Shenker’s advocacy for animals makes her larger than life. Recently she has taken her advocacy visual by co-founding the Animal Advocacy Museum, located in Pasadena, CA. The first exhibition (open until late May 2013) includes many pieces from Patty’s personal art collection, notably the work of artist Sue Coe, whose works are powerful, iconic statements against animal cruelty.
Advocating against animal cruelty became the raison d’être for Patty after her transition to vegetarianism over 40 years ago opened her eyes to the horrific abuses of slaughter houses and farmed animals. “In 1970, I decided to work for peace, and demonstrating peace to me meant accepting no violence at all towards any living being so I became a vegetarian, then vegan,” Patty said in our recent interview at one of L.A.’s most popular vegan restaurants. “After I realized how our culture has accepted cruelty to animals to satisfy our need for food, entertainment, and as beasts of burden, I knew that I’d found my life’s work to speak out for animals and change these injustices.”
Since then she has worked tirelessly, supporting animal rescue and advocacy with her own money and time. For example, in 1990, when she learned that the South Central Shelter in Los Angeles killed the most animals, she mounted a free spay/neuter program for the area, providing free transportation by herself, and fixed nearly a thousand pets. “My father instilled in me a sense of responsibility for the underdog. He came to America as an immigrant and became a criminal defense attorney to fight for justice for those who were innocent. Now I fight for the most innocent creatures of all—animals used and abused by humans,” Patty said.
From a Dream to Reality—A Museum Celebrating Animal Advocacy
Patty shared with me that it had always been her dream to create a place where works of animal advocacy art could be exhibited. Especially after she heard that there was a museum for the meat product in a can, Spam! After sharing this with her good friend and fellow activist, Prabhat Gautam, they decided to take action and make it happen. Thus, the Animal Advocacy Museum was born. Currently located in a wing of the Throop Unitarian Universalist Church in Pasadena, the Museum is quickly becoming a mecca for Angelenos who care about animals. After a star-studded launch party in March that brought together the best and the brightest from the local animal advocacy scene, the Museum continues to welcome visitors interested in the art exhibition and has also started hosting animal welfare/vegan lectures and educational events. The Museum is currently open Thursdays and Saturdays from 11am-4pm at 280 S. Los Robles Avenue, Pasadena, CA 91101. For more information, check out the Museum website (http://www.animaladvocacymuseum.com/) and make sure to spread the word and “like” the Museum on Facebook.
Finally! An Animal Tourist Attraction that Promotes Their Humane Treatment
As this is a blog about tourism and animal welfare, I asked Patty if there were any plans to add the Animal Advocacy Museum as a tourist destination in Los Angeles. She said not yet, but that she would add it the list of ideas to promote the Museum. Imagine animal advocates from around the world adding the Museum as a stop on their trip to Hollywood and Southern California! WOW! Ms. Humane Advisor likes this idea! What a wonderful addition to an already exciting travel destination known for being the top media center in the world. By adding the Animal Advocacy Museum to tourist “must-see” travel plan checklists, the local tourism industry could support the great work being done to raise awareness of animal rights. Are you listening, Los Angeles Visitors Bureau?
My Heroes Have Always Been Animal Advocates
During our talk, I asked Patty who were her heroes. She gave it some thought and came up with a few names of people that she had the greatest respect for. But ultimately, she settled on another answer. She said, “Everyone who helps, rescues, fosters, speaks out for and fights for the animals are my heroes. We are all needed to end this horrific treatment of our fellow earthlings and I am comforted everyday to know that there are animal heroes everywhere in the world now. They all are my heroes!” Spoken like a true hero, who having been in the trenches herself, knows how hard it is to keep doing this often heart wrenching work, every day in any way, for animals, without losing hope. So for all of you animal advocates out there–animal rescuers and fosterers, nonprofit leaders and grunt workers, animal lobbyists, and anyone else who has put animal welfare at the top of their agenda, often at great personal costs, your work is recognized, appreciated, and admired!
Patty’s Top Five Ways to Help Animals
No interview with this dynamic spokesperson for animal rights would be complete without getting her input on how we can all make a difference for animals starting right now. Patty’s top five ways to help animals are:
- Go Vegan. Period. Bottom line. If you can’t go vegan, start with vegetarianism but with the ultimate goal of becoming vegan. Vegan also means no leather or suede, no silk and no fur! It’s easier than you think and means the world to the animals who suffer for all these products.
- Shop Aware. Make a conscious decision to not buy products that are tested on animals or impact animal habitats, such as products containing palm oil.
- Adopt, Don’t Shop or Breed Your Pets. With over 5 million healthy, adoptable dogs being euthanized every year in the U.S. alone, give a rescue dog or cat a chance at a new life and adopt.
- Never Support Entertainment that Uses, Therefore, Abuses Animals. We all grew up going to circuses, zoos, and amusement parks where animals were part of the show. But behind the scenes, these animals often endure lives of abject misery and suffering. Just say NO!
- Be a Political Animal. Here’s your chance to speak up to let our government officials know that there are voters out there that care about animals. Write letters. Lobby. Vote Humane.
To hear more from Patty, please check out her awesome blog, Patty’s Perch, where she shares her insights on animal welfare and how you, too, can be a powerful advocate for animals! With her work, she’s set an amazing example for all of us. What an honor it is to know her.
Patty Shenker Blog: www.pattyshenker.com
Animal Advocacy Museum: www.animaladvocacymuseum.com/