Michael Arms became President of Helen Woodward Animal Center in 1999 after serving ten years as district manager for the ASPCA in New York and twenty years as Director of Operations for North Shore Animal League.
Since he developed the, “Iams Home 4 the Holidays” adoption drive in San Diego in 1999 the campaign has found homes for more than 3,278,000 orphaned pets worldwide. Mike also established the Center’s, “Animal Center Education Services” program to teach, “the business of saving lives” to shelters worldwide.
What is your idea of perfect happiness? My idea of perfect happiness is being able to wake up in the morning feeling healthy both physically and mentally and turning on the news to find total peace and harmony in the world- that mankind has finally got the message that we need to be humane to each other, as well as the animals that are put on this earth to share the planet with us.
If you could come back as a dog or a cat, which one would it be & why? I would definitely want to come back as a dog. Even though I love both species, I have personally witnessed more catering to our canine friends. I've seen canine lovers take their friends to the beach to romp, cook homemade meals for them, give them a great bed to sleep on, buy toys and treats, and tell all their troubles to. So yup, if I had a chance to come back it would be as (wo)mans' best friend.
What is your pets most treasured possession? One of my pet is Wilson, a yellow lab that was rejected from the Guide Dog Foundation b/c of a heart condition. I strongly believe his favorite possession is my pillow and my side of the bed. If I ask Wilson to allow me to go to bed, he's not happy- he thinks we should share this limited space. Too many times when he gets off the bed he takes my pillow and the chase begins. So yes his favorite possession is my bed.
Your proudest achievement so far? This is a really hard question. Someday when I'm sitting back and soul searching for what I have accomplished in this life time, I would think fondly of my wife, daughter and grand-daughter. I would think of the wonderful animals that came in my life and I guess I would reflect on some accomplishments. The most prominent moment I suspect would be the Iams Home 4 the Holidays campaign. I have received over the years so many letters, calls, and comments from organizations telling me how their adoptions have increased and how many lives were saved because of this promotion- the one that has stuck in my mind and heart for so many years was from an animal control agency stating that it was the first time in the organization's history that they didn't have to take a life during the holidays. Could I ask for a better gift?
Who are your heroes in real life? I think I will limit this to 2 real heroes. And guess what? They're both animals. Many of you might know of Scarlett the cat. I believe Scarlett taught the world what a mother's love is really like when she ran into a burning building 6 times being burnt more and more with each rescue until she brought all 6 of her babies to safety. How many humans would do that?
My second hero was a horse I met several years ago named Yankee. Yankee was caught in the wildfires here in San Diego. The owner lost her home, all her possessions and all that was left was Yankee. He was a 32 year old horse and most of his body was severely burnt. When I first saw him his owner was holding his face in her arms and screaming to the sky with tears running down her soot covered face "please don't take the last thing I have left. Don't take Yankee!" I spoke with the vet and he explained how much pain this animal was in. The normal would be for him to give up and to cross over so the suffering could stop. But Yankee was staring at his owner and I felt strongly in my heart that he lived for her. He felt she was not strong enough to make it on her own. He would stay and endure the pain for months not to abandon her. Yankee lived for 4 more years after that horrific experience.
I am a firm believer that mankind can learn from the heroic deeds of our animal friends.