Californian bicyclist rides to save pets and shelters

Recently a man has set off for a three-month bicycle tour across the 48 continental U.S. states to raise money and awareness for no-kill animal shelters. Armen Abalian, a native from Los Angeles, CA and now living in Poland, visited the Baltimore Humane Society during his stop in Maryland on his Biking for Animals tour.

“I consider myself a true animal lover and I strongly respect other animals’ right to live and to not suffer,” Abalian posted on his website.  “I am a firm believer in that we have to do whatever we can to help other animals. This is why I have been directly involved in a variety of organizations that aim to do just that, most recently with ESWA (The European Society for the Well-being of Animals). I have spearheaded initiatives such as the Ten Percent Club, which aims to get everyone to set aside ten percent of their going-out money and donate it to charity, and have personally wandered the streets of several cities in Mexico feeding hungry stray dogs. I have adopted several cats, either from the street or from shelters, and have helped others do the same.  Biking for Animals is yet another initiative that I hope results in a better life for at least some animals. Since I enjoy cycling, I decided that this would be a perfect medium for my fundraising efforts. These tours are not easy. They’re not meant to be. That said, if I can raise some money and awareness for this important cause (and, in the future, hopefully others as well), it will have been worth it. ”

Armen Abalian

In the Baltimore suburb of Reisterstown, tucked away along a meandering forested road, lies the Baltimore Humane Society. The autumn trees surround the curved perimeter of the road and the falling leaves, spreading vibrant oranges and reds as I drive by, make it hard to believe I am still in Baltimore County.

“[The Baltimore Humane Society] is not like you’re stereotypical shelter at all,” Wendy Goldband, director of marketing and public relations at the BHS, told me. The shelter not only has an adoption center, but also includes a dedicated pet cemetery, a medical facility, and a spay neuter center on its campus, located on a 365-acre natural reservation.

Animals at the BHS are never killed to make more space. The animals are treated with medical care that costs up to thousands of dollars and are kept until they are found a home. “When I give tours at our shelter I tell people that the good thing is the pets they see here today are still going to be here tomorrow. Then I tell them the bad news: the pets are still going to be here tomorrow,” Goldband said, “These animals need homes.” Animals are only killed in extreme cases of health or behavior problems.

“I can count on my hand the number of animals that have been killed in this shelter,” Goldband said. The BHS has been open since 1927.

Shelters like the BHS are the reason why Abalian is trying to raise $1,000 for each shelter he visits – and they need it, bad. The BHS receives no federal funding and functions solely off of donations and low cost veterinary care.

Baltimore's colorful dog adoption center.
Baltimore’s colorful dog adoption center.

Sure they get figureheads such as the Baltimore Ravens franchise quarterback Joe Flacco to hold a few bunnies and pet a few dogs, but the BHS are short on big donors. “The $5 and $10 monthly donations are critical to our operation. We rely on those donations to survive,” says Goldband. The average working people are the ones supporting these shelters nationwide.

These are the kinds of places Abalian is promoting on his 3 month 48 state bicycle tour. Although, Abalian wants to raise money and awareness for no-kill shelters across the nation, he is also raising money for the Best Friends Animal Society — a society which actively promotes a no-kill policy nationwide by helping to raise money for no-kill shelters all over the U.S.

According to the Best Friends Animal Society every minute at least siz pets are killed in shelters. That’s about 9,000 pets a day. Almost 4 million a year; however, about 90 percent of these pets can be adopted with proper care and treatment.

Pet Cemetery in Baltimore.
Pet Cemetery in Baltimore.

Abalian is cycling 62 miles in each state to try and stop shelter euthanasia of pets and needs everyone’s help to make a difference. Abalian may be just one man, but all it takes is one push to get the ball rolling.

To track Abalian’s trek across America with maps, videos, and donation links visit his website.

To help support your local Baltimore Humane Society and everything they do to keep animals alive and happy visit First Giving or Baltimore Humane Society.

And get in touch with Abalian: Email him at armen@bikingforanimals. org or message me on Facebook.