How The “Stray” Video Game Is Bringing Benefits To Real Life Felines

A new feline-centered video game has not only made waves in the gaming community but has helped to contribute towards real-life rescue cats.

Pope Francis Criticizes ‘Selfish’ Couples Who Adopt Pets Instead Of Kids

Speaking in front of a general audience at the Vatican Wednesday, Pope Francis took a bold move at upsetting the masses of animal lovers by saying that couples who adopt pets instead of children are showing “a form of selfishness” and that it “diminishes us.”

“How many children in the world are waiting for someone to take care of them,” Francis said. “And how many spouses wish to be fathers and mothers but are unable to do so for biological reasons; or, although they already have children, they want to share their family’s affection with those who have been left without.”

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Francis — who dived into the topic while discussing Joseph, the foster father of Jesus — called adopting “one of the highest forms a love” a person can give. He also told potential parents to not be afraid of adopting children, and that while there are always risks, there are “more risk in not having a child.”

According to the Child Welfare Information Gateway, adopting a child can amount anywhere from $15,000 to $50,000 depending on the type of adoption, such as private or independent. Around 140,000 children are adopted by American families each year, while there are an estimated 153 million orphans worldwide. Meanwhile, per the ASPCA, around 4.1 million pets are adopted in the U.S. each year (2 million dogs and 2.1 million cats).

For the Church, Catholic families birthing or adopting more children could benefit it in the long run. A Gallup report found that in addition to U.S. membership in houses of worship dropping below 50% for the first time in eight decades, Catholic membership declined by 18 points, from 76% to 58%.

That’s a steeper decline than what Protestants have faced (down nine points from 73% to 64%). Gallup also noted weekly church attendance for Catholics has declined as well, whereas it has remained steady for protestants.

Across the globe, countries are also experiencing what is termed as a “demographic winter,” or falling fertility rates. According to BBC, worldwide fertility rates — which currently sit around 2.4 — are projected to fall below 2.0 by 2050, and to 1.7 by 2100.

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BBC explained that the drop in fertility rates can be credited to more women going to school and working, as well as the greater accessibility of birth control. In May, Francis commented on fertility rates, stressing the need for “a policy, an economy, information and culture that courageously promote birth.”

The Pope has discussed animals several times during his papacy. In 2016, Francis said that a person can’t love their pet more than their neighbor. While some might recall Francis saying that animals — which the Church hasn’t confirmed nor deny have souls — will go to heaven, the quote credited to Francis was actually spoken by Paul VI.

While Francis, who is often seen as much more of a progressive Church leader than those in the past, has neither children nor pets, he was gifted two donkeys by a farming cooperative back in 2014.

Despite Francis’ frequent dismissal of animals, previous Popes have a more affectionate history with creatures. Benedict XVI was well-known for his housing and enduring love of cats, while Pius XII possessed a goldfinch.

NYC Pizza

New York Pizza Shop Delivering Photos Of Shelter Dogs With Every Order

New York is known for its pizza. Anyone who’s ever visited the state knows that while they’re here they need to try a genuine bagel, bacon egg and cheese, or slice of pizza. When it comes to the multitude of pizzerias scattered throughout New York, however, it can be hard to distinguish what makes a certain establishment unique. For one franchise based in Amherst, they’re making major social strides through their advocacy for shelter pet adoption. 

Just Pizza & Wing Co. is attaching flyers of adoptable furry friends to each of its pizza deliveries to help aid a community organization that promotes adoption over shopping for puppies at storefronts that likely get their animals from cruel puppy mills. The best part of the whole deal is Just Pizza is offering a $50 gift certificate to any customer who ends up adopting a dog because of the pizza box fliers. 

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Mary Alloy owns Just Pizza & Wings Co. with three of her children, and the idea to incorporate posters for available shelter dog’s trying to get adopted onto each pizza box came when Alloy and her kids began volunteering with the animal rights group, Niagara Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA). Alloy is no stranger to working with non-profit charity organizations, so volunteering to help protect animal rights seemed like a no-brainer for her and her family, and when an event coordinator whom Alloy had grown close to suggested using pizza boxes as a way to get more “advertising” for shelter dog adoptions, Alloy jumped at the opportunity. 

Kimberly LaRussa is the coordinator who’s worked with Alloy on implementing this new program which began distributing fliers this past Friday (2/28), and both the pizzeria and shelters are receiving a surge of new clientele, after 48 hours one puppy named Larry has already been adopted thanks to the collaboration!

“We’ve had a tremendous amount of interest and support from the community and beyond since the story went viral on Friday. Many people want to order a pizza just to get the shelter dog photo, other pizzerias have offered to put flyers on their pizza boxes, and so many people are tagging their friends and family. The shop is getting a lot more business, as well. While the restaurant usually uses about 600 to 800 boxes every week, it has already gone through 500 boxes since Friday,” LaRussa and Alloy said in an interview.

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As previously mentioned, Alloy is no stranger to working with charitable organizations and incorporating advocacy for them within her own business. She’s already heavily involved with hospice care, non-profit medical organizations, autism centers, children’s hospitals and other animal shelters as well throughout New York. 

Just Pizza & Wings Co. has nine locations throughout New York, and within each are dozens of donation boxes for various organizations. Alloy said she’s always wanted to work with the SPCA, but running her business obviously always took priority. Previously she provided food donations to events for the SPCA, but once her kids offered to help and the county approved of the program, they were able to do even more for these adoptable friends. 

Within the coming weeks, LaRussa and Alloy hope to begin printing fliers for adoptable cats to also include with future pizza orders, as you never know what customer might be more of a cat person or a dog person. Alloy also claimed that they will continue with this program “for as long as it takes to get every shelter animal adopted.” 

Alloy is hoping other pizzerias throughout the country will see her now viral story and implement the same type of charitable program for their local shelters, for now though, Larry the puppy has a pizzeria to thank for his new family.

Mom reading book to children

Adopted Individuals Can Now Access Their Birth Certificates In New York

Since the 1930’s New York has made it extremely difficult for adopted children to get access to their original birth records and information regarding biological family. For certain reasons, these policies make a lot of sense, however, giving a human being the opportunity to learn about where they truly came from and the DNA that’s running through their blood seems like it should be just as much of a human right as deciding not to find out that information, and the state has recently agreed. 

This past Wednesday (1/15/20) New York became the 10th state in America to grant adoptees unrestricted access to their original birth records. Before the order was passed, New York required that adopted individuals had to get a court order if they wanted access to their birth certificates, however, the court order was known as one of the hardest pieces of government documentation to obtain in the state. 

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“Those rules had originally been intended to protect the privacy of parents who relinquished their children. But attitudes about the rights of adopted individuals have shifted, while social media and DNA technology have made it easier for long-separated relatives to connect,” (NBC).

It’s a controversial and complex issue, which is part of the reason the policies remained the same for almost a century. Some of the opposers of the new laws that were involved in the debates were Catholic groups, adoption agency workers who have seen the results of adoptees finding their birth families, birth mothers in the same right, and adopted mothers as well. One of the major points of contention being protection over birth mothers who were the victims of rape or incest and decided to give up their child.    

It’s estimated that about 600,000 New York state residents are adopted—now, all of those individuals will be given access to their original birth certificates, if they want it. Beforehand, New York was known as one of the most disciplinary states in the country in regards to any legal issues involving children, custody, adoption, parental rights, etc. According to Greg Luce, a family attorney and founder of the Adoptee Rights Law Center in Minnesota, New York was “one of the top five most restrictive states in the entire country, and it’s been that way since 1936,” Luce stated referring to when the original policies were enacted.  

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The National Council for Adoption is an adoption advocacy group that was founded in 1980. The goals of this group have always been clear; protect the rights and privacy of all parties involved in the adoption process, but most importantly, keep the child’s well-being at top priority. Part of that initiative actually involved supporting the previous laws that restricted an adopted individual’s access to their original birth records. However, according to the group’s president, their thoughts on the matter have since changed with the times. 

“The group’s perspective has evolved as a growing body of research suggests the vast majority of women who place their children for adoption are open to reunions. As states have looked at laws to accommodate the majority, we’ve just asked folks to really take into account the wishes of the women who wish to maintain their privacy,” President Chuck Johnson said.

As Johnson stated, the main concern should be regarding the birth mothers rights to privacy and choice in regard to a reunion. What the adoptees will find when they do go out of their way to find their birth parents can go one of two ways, and it’s important for all parties involved in the process to be aware of that. More states are now pushing for policies like this one now that New York has loosened their century long restrictions, only time will tell how much the rest of the country corroborates and what the effects of that will be.