(Photo: Greg with our rescued street dogs Fox and Dana at Great Falls National Park, McLean, VA, c 2004)
Losing Greg suddenly in autumn 2015, in the prime of his life, was devastating. He had been my spouse for 23 years, and he had been a force of nature.
Some remember their loved ones by lighting a candle or scattering their ashes in a meaningful place. I knew I had to do something more — something that came closer to representing the intensity of Greg’s energy and his generosity in life, something that would carry on his drive to save animals from human cruelty and their habitats from human destruction.
And so, this Fund. This Fund has accomplished quite a lot in its first two years.
We’ll be marking Earth Day 2018 this Sunday, so let me start with Food for Thought – A Program of Animal Place. As soon as the Fund was established, it began partnering with Food for Thought to help North American wildlife and environmental organizations adopt earth-friendly vegan menu policies for their events. To date, ten organizations in this category have received seed grants for adopting new vegan or vegetarian menu policies, and 40 have endorsed the program — while a total of over 300 non-profits in all categories have signed on.
The Fund has provided major support for key programs of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), which will soon present its third annual Gregory J. Reiter Animal Rescue Award. It has supported PETA’s Community Animal Project initiatives from companion animal spay/neuter services in low income Virginia and North Carolina communities, to rescue work after hurricanes in Texas and Puerto Rico. The Fund has supported PETA’s Cruelty in Horse Racing campaign in its work to stop the industry from doping active racehorses and then sending them to slaughter at the end of their short careers. The Fund has also contributed to PETA’s legal work, including its joint lawsuit with the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine and other organizations demanding that the USDA comply with the Animal Welfare Act by restoring public access to documents about animal abuse.
The Fund has contributed substantially to the White Coat Waste Project, a dynamic new organization that has united Republicans and Democrats in the U.S. Congress to successfully end “maximum pain” dog experiments at the Department of Veterans Affairs and end nicotine experiments that led to deaths of squirrel monkeys at the Food and Drug Administration.
The Fund has contributed to Poplar Spring Animal Sanctuary, the largest farm animal sanctuary in the Washington D.C. area, helping to fund supplies and veterinary care for over 200 rescued cows, horses, pigs, sheep, goats, chickens, turkeys and other animals.
And much more.
Greg believed firmly during his life that everything happens for a reason. If he was right – and he usually was – then what could be the reason that he died so early in his life? Perhaps it was to jolt me and others into making the most of every minute, seeking every opportunity to be of service, and doing everything possible to make this Earth a better place for animals.