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Music with a Message

Bluegrass song promotes pet sterilization

It was more than five years ago that Lynn Morris saw a neighbor mistreating his new kitten, but witnessing that incident has had a powerful effect on Morris’ life. Her dismay over the neglected pet led to her involvement with her local shelter in Winchester, Virginia, where she learned more about the world of problems facing companion animals—and learned that in that world, neglect is only the tip of the iceberg.

Morris’ story is like that of many other people who have gotten involved with animal protection after seeing cruelty or neglect firsthand. But while she did serve on the board of the Winchester SPCA for several years, Morris hasn’t worked as a kennel tech or animal control officer or even an executive director. Her career is in bluegrass music, and for those who aren’t too familiar with the genre, Lynn Morris is one of the best-known figures in contemporary bluegrass: she’s been named Female Vocalist of the Year by the International Bluegrass Music Association on three separate occasions.

Back in early 1996, Morris realized that the second annual Spay Day USA was fast approaching, and she wanted to do something to promote pet sterilization. “I couldn’t stay on the board at the shelter because my tour schedule just got too rough,” Morris says, “ ... but I just got to thinking, ‘There has to be something I can do to help, since I’ve been a professional musician for nearly 30 years. There’s got to be something I can do with the music.’ ” Morris consulted with her band and with songwriter Tom Adams, and they came up with a bluegrass PSA—a delightful twangy song encouraging people to spay and neuter: “Spay, spay, spay, spay your pet/Or you may, may, may, may regret/You’ve got to spay or neuter, it’s the best thing for your pet/If you haven’t done it yet, take your pet to the vet.”

The band played their animal anthem on a local cable show and at concerts. Response was enthusiastic, and Morris realized that more DJs would play the song if they only had a copy. With funding help from Spay/USA, a national organization that coordinates low-cost spay/neuter programs around the country, Morris’s band had CDs made; since then, Morris has personally mailed copies to bluegrass DJs all over the United States. “I think it’s gotten some good airplay,” says Morris, who plans to also have the spay/neuter message painted on her band’s bus. And since many of bluegrass music’s fans live in more rural areas of the country, the band is tapping into an audience that shelters and animal control officers often struggle to reach.

If you’ve got local DJs or stations that might put the PSA to good use, you can get the CD free by e-mailing Morris at lmband@crosslink.net. And in the mean time, keep on pickin’ and singin’ and spayin’ and neuterin’.

 

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