Karen Menczer loves animals. While traveling abroad as part of her work in international development, she was distressed by the situation for animals. She was also heartened by animal welfare advocates in poor countries doing heroic work on shoestring budgets. Upon returning to the U.S., Karen started Animal Kind International (AKI). AKI raises awareness and funds. The group also collects supplies for animal welfare advocates in poor countries. For Global Activism, Menczer shares the passion for her work.
Karen shares about her work and why she feels the organization is needed:
"I have worked with so many amazing animal welfare advocates while living and working overseas, in developing countries, since 1991. The animal welfare organizations in the countries where I’ve worked get such little financial support (nothing from government), yet they help so many animals. I started Animal-Kind International to get their stories out; to help them raise funds and get supplies so they can focus on helping animals—and not constantly worry about fundraising. I knew that if people in the U.S. and elsewhere, who care about animals, could donate—with confidence that their support was going directly towards helping animals—they would be happy to support such worthwhile efforts.
Animal-Kind International now supports existing animal welfare organizations in 10 countries: Uganda, Namibia, Tanzania, Malawi, Ghana, South Sudan, Armenia, Bosnia, Jamaica, and Honduras. Most of the organizations in these countries were started by local people, and they are run by local people, all of whom sincerely care about animals. AKI’s support covers everything from rent to construction and repair of kennels, salaries, dog and
cat food, vet care, spay/neuter, and humane education initiatives. We have a due diligence process which ensures that all donations are used to support animal welfare; we connect donors to the animal welfare advocates so people can see just what their donations are achieving; donors can choose which organization they would like to support; and we send 100% of all donations to our partner organizations—we have no overhead.
Working to improve the lives of animals, especially in Africa and Latin America, is all about working with the people who care for them (or who don’t care about them). The most gratifying thing about this kind of work is to see how quickly people come around to understanding that animals have feelings, that it’s fun to be kind to animals and to care for them, and that animals bring more joy to life."