You read the title right, your cats and dogs can help survivors of human trafficking. Sometimes in life, amazing opportunities pop up that can not be ignored. Last month, I was approached by the founder of BRANCH: A New Beginning, a non-profit organization that helps survivors of human trafficking, to help promote their cause through social media. They needed a volunteer that is good with social media and… knowledge about cat treats and dog treats! Curious yet?
What is human trafficking?
Human trafficking is modern day slavery. In some circumstances, victims of human trafficking are used for their labor (more like our conventional ideas of slavery) and in other cases, they are forced into prostitution. Human trafficking is a problem that affects people all over the world of all races, religions, and socio-economic statuses. Most of the time, victims are not kidnapped but rather groomed carefully over long periods of time by savvy traffickers.
According to Polaris, a leading organization in the fight against human trafficking, and the International Labour Organization, there are more than 20.9 million victims of human trafficking world wide. As for the United States, in 2016 The National Human Trafficking Hotline (run by Polaris) 7,572 cases of human trafficking were reported. Of those cases that were reported, 5,551 were cases of sex trafficking, 6,340 victims were women, and 2,075 victims were citizens of the United States. The full report from Polaris can be viewed here.
The state that I live in, Michigan, has the 6th highest number of reported cases of human trafficking in the United States (246 cases). Unfortunately, we know that the numbers are far under reported. Very few resources are dedicated to alleviating the situation.
How can survivors of human trafficking be helped?
Being rescued is only the beginning of the story for a survivor of human trafficking. While they were being trafficked, these victims may have been brainwashed into believing they are worthless, branded with tattoos, addicted to drugs, and forced into criminal acts that leave them with potentially lengthy criminal records. Medical and psychological problems remain as well.
Becoming productive, independent adults again is a real challenge. A lot of the old, healthy relationships other people have been damaged. Getting a “normal” job is not easy when you have felonies on your record. “Johns” may recognize survivors from their tattoos while out on the streets. Entrenched networks of traffickers are always looking to draw survivors back into their clutches. Many survivors return to prostitution because they don’t know how else to survive. Making resources available and known to survivors is half the battle!
BRANCH: A New Beginning is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization on a mission to help survivors to build a new life. They are building a first-of-its-kind safe house for survivors of human trafficking in Metro Detroit. This safe house will be able to house 12 women as they work toward independence. Survivors will be provided necessary medical treatments, counseling, and help to find a job. BRANCH is working together with survivors of human trafficking to tailor a program to specifically help their unique needs.
Want to know what BRANCH is doing? Follow BRANCH on Facebook! There are a lot of news articles and information about human trafficking in the United States as well as updates on projects and events. Tax-deductible donations can be made to BRANCH through PayPal here.
BRANCH Brings Cats and Dogs to the Rescue!
How do cats and dogs help survivors of human trafficking? BRANCH intends to use therapy cats and therapy dogs to help survivors of human trafficking cope as they heal from their trauma. Right now, BRANCH is training Brooklyn, a young German Shephard, for helping the survivors. Brooklyn will go out on rescues and calm the survivors while authorities go about the difficult task of collecting information from them. Cats are not yet being trained, but that will come in the future.
Also, BRANCH wants to be able to offer some honest work and wages to the survivors taking part in their program. This work will come in the form of making all natural cat treats (Mitzi Munchers) and dog treats (Brooky Bites)! These treats use high-quality, human grade, ingredients and are perfectly safe for humans to consume (though you might not enjoy eating them yourself). All of the treats have very short lists of ingredients.
You can purchase Mitzi Muchers cat treats and Brooky Bites dog treats online! BRANCH has an Etsy store and a brand new Amazon Handmade store. For your convenience, there are links to all of the products in BRANCH’s Facebook store. Need a customized order? Just ask! Feedback is always appreciated and new and improved products will always be rolling out.
Since BRANCH’s program for survivors is still being built, the treats are currently being baked by generous volunteers. All of the profits from the sale of the treats are going directly to building the safe house for survivors of human trafficking. I have even baked a few dog treats myself! Manna and Dexter gave them a sniff of approval.
Did the cats like the Mitzi Munchers cat treats?
Manna and Dexter have tried all 3 flavors of Mitzi Munchers cat treats! Mitzi Muchers cat treats currently come in Cheese Crackers, Catnip, and Albacore Tuna. They like them all, but they enjoyed the Albacore Tuna flavor the most. Dexter kept trying to run away with each of the bags of treats! He’s quite the stinker.
The treats are cooked hard to keep them as fresh as possible, so I found that Manna and Dexter liked it when I broke them up into smaller bites. They can’t wait to try the new Mitzi Muncher cat treats as they are created. My cats plan on being instrumental in the process of perfecting Mitzi Munchers cat treats!
The BRANCH Giveaway!
BRANCH would like to your cats and dogs a chance to try BRANCH’s pet treats! We’re giving 5 readers from the United States an opportunity to win a bag of their choice of Mitzi Munchers cat treats or Brooky Bites dog treats from the BRANCH store. You can view the options here.5 readers from the United States an opportunity to win a bag of their choice of Mitzi Munchers cat treats or Brooky Bites dog treats from the BRANCH store. You can view the options here.
Entries can be received until Monday, August 14, 2017, at 11:59 PM EST. Open to residents of the United States of at least 18 years of age. Winners will be notified by email within 48 hours of the end of the giveaway. If a winner does not respond to the notification email within 48 hours, that winner forfeits the prize and a new winner will be drawn. No purchase necessary. Void where prohibited. Use the Rafflecopter widget below to enter!