Of all 12 items in the MUTTS Manifesto, our goal for April — “to love all animals” — is perhaps the truest to the heart and mission of MUTTS. (It’s also, at least for us, the simplest to accomplish.)

For this month’s Q&A, I’m chatting with Patrick McDonnell about his love for animals. Through MUTTS, he’s had the opportunity to be involved with a variety of awesome animal rescue organizations, and I ask if any of those experiences stand out as being particularly memorable.

There are a lot, he responds, but the first that comes to mind is his recent visit to Animal Care Centers of NYC. In early 2016, Patrick visited NYCACC as part of a featured segment on Shelter Me, a PBS series celebrating the animal-human bond. (You can stream the episode here.)

“My experiences at ACC were eye-opening in several ways,” Patrick says. “They’re the municipal shelter system for the largest city in the country, and they take in over 34,000 animals a year, with a 94% live release rate. They do this through massive outreach with partner groups and other programs.”

“I knew that I would feel the unconditional love from animals while there, but I was blown away by all the unconditional love that the workers had for the animals. Each employee and volunteer did their absolute best for every animal.”

Unfortunately, there are still some negative misconceptions about shelters and mixed-breed animals, and a major part of these workers’ efforts includes educating the public about what it means to adopt a “mutt.”

“Each animal who arrives at the shelter has a unique past, and arrives there for reasons completely out of their control,” Patrick explains. “These are great animals just looking for a second chance. I can’t recommend enough that people go to the shelter or a rescue group to get a new best friend. Every pure breed imaginable can be found at these places, though I have a huge preference for mutts.”

“I was so heartened by my visit to ACC and feel, for sure, that the future is bright for homeless companion animals. And until the shelters are empty, I will continue to advocate on their behalf.”

Regular MUTTS readers know that while the comic is centered around the lives of companion animals, particular its starring duo Mooch and Earl, it includes homages to other creatures, too. Patrick has utilized the strip to raise awareness about all kinds of animals, ranging from endangered species like whales and tigers to traditional farm animals such as cows, chickens, and pigs. I ask if he’s ever visited a wildlife or farm sanctuary.

“Yes, and it was incredible,” he says. “As a member of the board of The Fund for Animals, I’ve been to their animal sanctuary, Black Beauty Ranch, located near Dallas, Texas. Seeing what the best of mankind does in caring for these beautiful creatures, each of whom has a sad history — but now has a peaceful, expansive home for life — made me realize that we all need to do even more for all life. Animals are completely at our mercy.”

Over the years, Patrick has received messages from readers who’ve been inspired by the MUTTS comic strip to adopt or help animals. “How does this make you feel?” I ask.

He smiles. “Honestly, nothing makes me happier.”

By MUTTS Staff Writer Ali Datko

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