Discrimination remains an underlying issue in our society. Some would argue it is more of an issue now than it ever was. In an effort to bring about awareness, Animal Farm Foundation (AFF) announced an expanded mission statement and evolution of its grant-giving focus.
AFF is a 501(c)3 that creates positive change for dogs, people and communities through its service dog program, PAWS prison program and by funding the training of K9 detection dogs. It provides lawmakers and policymakers with the information they need to create non-discriminatory laws and policies. If necessary, AFF works within the legal system to end breed-specific discrimination. It also consults with and offers free resources to animal welfare workers and community advocates.
The organization’s new mission statement is bringing dogs and people together to end discrimination. Dogs do not know what discrimination is, but we do, and bias against dogs is often a stand-in for racism, classism and ableism. While some in animal welfare label some dogs as “dogs nobody wants” and classify adopters with tags such as “gold tier” and “lower level,” AFF understands that real solutions involve treating all dogs and people as individuals.
Those solutions include providing grants to programs that keep dogs out of shelters and move communities forward. The organization is offering three major types of assistance: the Pet Owner Accessible Housing Grant, the Community Impact Grant and the Dog Detection Grant. Additionally, AFF continues its support for dogs in shelters through its Playgroup Grant to Dogs Playing for Life.
“What makes us unique and effective is our willingness and ability to evolve as the needs in our dog-loving society change. Our grants reflect not only how far we have come, but what it will take to finally put to rest discrimination based on a dog’s appearance,” said Stacey Coleman, executive director of Animal Farm Foundation. “All dogs are companion animals, and now we are setting out to change the discrimination in housing and insurance that prevent the human half of the companion animal equation from keeping their beloved pet.”
AFF’s Pet Owner Accessible Housing Grant funds community programs designed to keep people and pets in their homes. The lack of pet owner accessible housing and insurance not only separates families, it also puts a burden on communities, especially in an age where there is so much income inequality. Barriers to housing, especially breed-specific bans, are often cited by shelter workers as one of the top three reasons pets enter the system. Frequently, pet owner inaccessible housing is not about dogs at all—it’s about classism and/or racism. This grant will aid those who are fighting to end this discrimination.
The Community Impact Grant is available for innovators, community-changers and those who stand up against discrimination locally or nationally. These initiatives can include, but are not limited to:
- Advocating alongside people with disabilities who face discrimination due to prejudice against their service dog
- Ending breed-specific policies at pet-related facilities
- Pairing foster dogs with people recovering from addiction
- Creating pet owner accessible shelters for the houseless or people fleeing domestic abuse
- Programs offering low-cost or free veterinary services
AFF’s Dog Detection Grant creates safer, more connected communities. The grant allows Sector K9 to provide police K9s to departments across the country at no cost. AFF and their grantee, Sector K9, select shelter dogs for the program from across the country. Sector K9 trains the dogs to detect guns and drugs. Some dogs work in their general communities, while others are placed in schools. All of the K9s and their human partners work to foster a better relationship between their departments and the people they serve.
The Playgroup Grant helps Dogs Playing for Life bring their life-saving playgroups to shelters across the country. Playgroups increase the quality of life for shelter dogs and lead to more adoptions.
Stacey Coleman concludes, “As our new mission statement reflects, we have bold, far-reaching goals to eliminate discrimination. With these four grants, we look forward to supporting the many dedicated, courageous people and organizations who share this vision of equality.”