Are the flames of animal advocacy inbred or are they fanned by the environment or circumstances that become a call to action? For recent recipient of the 28th Congressional District’s Woman of the Year, Christy Schilling, it is likely a bit of both. Congressman Adam Schiff recognized that Christy is all about doing.

When seeds of inspiration blossom in Christy, typically for ways to improve the lives of animals, they grow to fruition at lightning speed. When Christy accepted this honor, she was quick to thank all of those so dedicated to bringing to light issues that impact the well-being, safety and protection of animals; humbly acknowledging that “it takes a village.” This is a philosophy often referred to as a rallying cry of sorts for those in animal rescue; a nod to the networking it often takes to make measurable change for even one animal. That a woman so devoted to the betterment of deserving animals is given recognition as part of the Congressional Record is a big deal. It is a stepping stone upon which a heightened awareness of the diverse needs of deserving animals can build.

In 2011, after spearheading the effort to get an ordinance passed to ban the sale of mill animals sold in pet stores in Glendale, California, Christy, Jennifer Krause and Shelley Rizzotti, set their sights on doing the same in Burbank, California where they knew formidable opposition on the City Council was waiting. They founded a group called: CROPS- Citizens for Rescue-Only Pet Stores. Due to the efforts of this organization, and an overwhelming outpouring of community support, an ordinance was successfully passed in Burbank, making it illegal for dogs and cats to be sold in pet stores; it was recognition that this unconscionable practice of perpetuating the sale of tortured mill animals needed to stop. Rescue animals are now waiting for adoption as part of this new business model, and many other communities around the country have followed suit.

In 2013, Christy, Jennifer and Shelly joined together to expand their vision to assist animals beyond the work accomplished with the mill ordinances. They created a non-profit, 501-3C organization called: The Animal Protectorates™ known as TAPS.  Their tag line: Raising the Bar for Animals succinctly describes their overall mission.  Teaching, Advocating, Protecting and Supporting the needs of voiceless animals is the comprehensive axis by which TAPS turns. They address these areas with financial support, guiding citizens toward a greater level of responsibility in their guardianship, and promoting the legal re-classification of animals as something other than property.

They are impressively trailblazing and bringing to light legal cases involving cruelty and hoarding, are working to institute an educational program geared toward helping young people make better choices for animals, and have even been rescuing and adopting deserving dogs and cats. Their web site is www.tapsusa.org.

Whether the fire that blazes from within, in people like Christy, is organic, innate, or ignites from witnessing an incident or injustice, I am comforted to know that animals thrive on their watch.