by Kim Justen and Deborah Myers
Eric Weyer is the co-owner of Hoots Roller Bar and Beer Company in Winston-Salem, N.C. Upon seeing a man with a tattooed sleeve, long beard, and beanie, one’s first impression of him might be that of an unapproachable, tough-guy business owner, someone whose conversation would revolve around beer. Quite wrong! In fact, one only has to say words like “Ava” and “animal rescue” to discover Weyer’s tender heart and life’s mission for saving animals.
It’s exhausting to watch Weyer dealing with his never-ending, daily routine of responsibilities – the hustle and bustle of the bar, attending to loyal customers, delivering beer kegs to business clients, and, in addition to all this, saving animals. When Weyer was looking for a dog to adopt, he had no way of knowing that when he met Ava, she’d lead him to his passion, and he in turn would save not only Ava, but numerous animals as well.
Just before Weyer opened the doors of his new business, Hoots, he went to AARF, a local animal rescue, where he met the dog that was about to change his world. “I fell in love with Ava; she was great, a sweet puppy,” says Weyer. (One of the ladies who worked at AARF found Ava running down a street by her house). Weyer was one of seven people wanting to adopt Ava. Following a home visit, AARF felt he was the best fit for a very active diva of a dog.
Soon after adopting Ava, Weyer found two dogs tied up at an abandoned house. He reached out to AARF, which helped him rescue the dogs. Those two were the first in what would become a long list of animals he has helped save and place in forever homes.
“I’ve been vegetarian for twenty-five years, almost vegan. I grew up having a compassion for all animals; it’s natural for me. I’ve always been passionate about animal rescue, but I didn’t really know how to do it,” he says. “I’d find animals tied up at abandoned houses, just left there, and I’d take them home. But I didn’t really know how to do a legitimate rescue. We can all make a difference, take part, and do what we feel in our hearts.”
Today, Weyer volunteers a lot of time with the local county animal shelter (a kill facility), and AARF. In helping at the shelter, he works closely with some of the staff, learning which animals are running out of time, then posting their information on social media. “Finding Ava led me to the right animal rescue organization,” he says. “I re-home animals from the county shelter into AARF. Since I started working with AARF, I’ve probably pulled and found homes for forty to fifty dogs.”
But he hasn’t stopped there. Weyer hosts two fund-raising events each year at his bar: “Hoots for Hounds” and “Mardi Paws.” “I like to use whatever connections I have to raise money by throwing events, to create awareness. We need volunteers. We need more of the community to be involved.”
Ironically, Weyer recently purchased a home on the street where Ava had been found. Ava has come full circle. Who would have known that in giving Ava a forever home, Eric would end up providing homes for so many more?
Weyer suggests others should visit the community councils in their areas. Talk with local leaders to determine their views on animal protection. Any high-kill shelter needs immediate help; they have limited time frames in finding homes for at-risk dogs and cats. “Do whatever you can,” he urges. “Use social media… be active in adoption fairs. If you’ve got five minutes a day, go pet some animals. Anything you can do is going to help improve their lives.”
The Humane Party (USA)
This is a new political party in the United States of America, founded in 2009, with chapters forming in all fifty states including a nation-wide volunteer campaign. It’s the first political party in the USA committed to representing both humans and animals. For more information, see thehumaneparty.org.
Political Advocacy IFAW (International Fund for Animal Welfare)
IFAW uses political advocacy for improving policy and legislation at the local, national, and international levels to protect animals. For more information, see ifaw.org.
Advocating for Animals–Animal Legal Defense Fund
The Animal Legal Defense Fund marks their first successful effort to halt a Kansas predator derby. On October 17, 2016, the ALDF posted a settlement agreement with the organizer of an annual coyote killing contest. The grand prize for killing the most coyotes was a $500 rifle. The settlement puts an end to the animal protection group’s lawsuit filed in early August, 2016. The victory marks the first time wildlife advocates have stopped a predator derby in Kansas. “Animals can’t vote but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t have a voice in the political process,” says the Animal Legal Defense Fund. For more information, see aldf.org.
NIFAA: National Institute for Animal Advocacy
The National Institute for Animal Advocacy is a lobbying organization for animals, providing donation forms, legislators’ scorecards, and political endorsements. NIFAA gives instructions on how to establish state and local laws for animals. Don’t waste time pursuing wrong avenues. This organization provides education and information to make it easier in getting political legislation passed. For information, see nifaa.org.