This past Friday morning, June 9th, the Los Angeles City Council honored a true animal welfare hero, Dr. W. Marvin Mackie, DVM. What follows are the comments I made at this prestigious event:
“Mr. President, members of the Council, I have been involved in animal welfare for nearly 25 years, and for as long as I can remember, every time the name “Dr. Mackie” was ever mentioned, no matter the setting or the audience, it always evoked a sense of reverence and respect.
Every meaningful movement in history has been led by transformational leaders, leaders like George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Frederick Douglass, Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, and Caesar Chavez. Inspirational leaders have always challenged us to not only change the way we view ourselves as a society but to change how we behave as a civilized community.
We in the animal welfare arena have such transformational leaders too; they are our own heroes, people like Henry Bergh, Albert Schweitzer, and Gretchen Wyler. Today we are honoring another such hero: Dr. W. Marvin Mackie. Dr. Mackie was, and continues to be, an instrumental force in transforming not just our local LA community, but the entire nation and other parts of the world from out dated catch-and-kill animal control methodologies to humane, non-lethal, no-kill animal care strategies and programs.
While a few self-described “revolutionaries” and so-called “activists” do little more than rattle off hate-filled emails from the comfort of their living rooms and occasionally get off the couch to harass and terrorize public servants under cover of night and ski masks, this giant, Dr. Mackie has openly and courageously transformed an entire generation by being the change he wanted to see in the world. Dr. Mackie is responsible for surgically altering hundreds of thousands of animals in the LA area; he has taught hundreds of veterinarians how to perform high volume and prepubescent surgery safely and humanely in communities around the world, and he taught many hardheaded animal control directors like my self that there is a better way.
We in Los Angeles have perhaps benefited most from the fact that Dr. Mackie is an Angelino, hailing from San Pedro. As a result of his inspirational leadership, over the course of his career, the number of animals needing to be rescued annually from the streets of LA by Animal Services has declined by 40,000. More significantly the number of animals killed in our local shelters has fallen from 60,000 per year to 19,000 and continues to decline significantly every year.
Consider this, 40% of the animals euthanized this past month were orphaned neonate puppies and kittens. What fact better demonstrates the tremendous need that we as a community must continue Dr. Mackie’s legacy until there are no more unwanted pets being born only to die?
The no-kill initiative that has taken hold in LA is beginning to take root in communities all across the United States thanks to Dr. Mackie and others. Imagine how far we have come in Los Angeles in the three decades since Dr. Mackie began to live his dream. Today his dream is embraced by the Mayor of Los Angeles, the Los Angeles City Council, the Los Angeles Animal Services Commission and the Los Angeles General Manager and staff. Los Angeles has risen up together to accept the fact that Dr. Mackie’s no-kill vision is an achievable goal! No small accomplishment for one man.
When you consider what this one man has accomplished imagine what we could do if we all worked together! Thank you Dr. Mackie for being such an inspiration to all of us!