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Taking the Public Inside

Former shelter workers harness the power of the personal to show the public the world behind the statistics of animal homelessness—and help them understand how they can change it

Diane Leigh has to look no further than the letter taped to her wall to see the impact she is making. Written by an Illinois animal advocate, the note is the most gratifying she has received since the publication of the book she coauthored with Marilee Geyer: One at a Time: A Week in an American Shelter.

“I’ve been thinking that with our organization I need to build a no-kill shelter,” the admiring fan wrote. “That has been our goal. After reading your book I realize that what we need to do is preventative work to keep animals from needing shelter. And so we’ve changed our direction.”

The responses from shelter workers have been no less enthusiastic, with one writing to say, “Even though I’m on the front lines, this helped bring me back to why I do it and what I’m doing.”

“I guess we struck that balance well because shelter workers feel, so far, well-represented by it,” says Leigh, who together with Geyer is offering deep discounts to animal organizations that would like to use the book as a tool in their community. “They’ve been some of our biggest supporters. We have shelters who are selling it as part of their merchandise. We have one shelter that used it as a Christmas gift to the media and the donors that helped them in the last year. And we have a little rescue group that’s giving it with each adoption that they do. People are taking it and running with it.”

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