Rotary International Approves Two New Animal Member Clubs

CHICAGO, Illinois - Dogs and cats have been approved as full Rotary members under a new "Flexible & Innovative Club Pilot Program".

The Rotary Club of Dog River, Saskatchewan, Canada recently installed nine canines as members. Club President Brent Leroy credited the move as reinvigorating the club and effectively doubling the club's membership.

Michelle O'Brien, Charter President of the new Rotary Club of Katchikan in Ketchikan, Alaska, USA said that her club would be taking the program "one step further" by encouraging members to dress like the feline members as part of the club's mentorship program.

Rotary's General Secretary, John Hewko, made the announcement and stated that two year pilot program was intended to encourage Rotary clubs to reinvent and reinvigorate themselves by making changes to meeting format, leadership structure, as well as membership qualifications and requirements. Participating clubs will be evaluated to examine the effects of changes on the club's ability to sustain and increase membership, to implement successful program and service projects and to support the Rotary Foundation.

Rotary was formed 110 years ago on February 23, 1905 when lawyer, Paul Harris, invited local businessmen together.

"Rotary has changed tremendously since that first meeting," added Hewko, "by expanding into a global network with a diverse membership of community and business leaders who volunteer their time, energy and money to make a difference in their local communities and in communities around the world."

"We see this as another way for Rotarians to lead the change by extending our welcome to members of the animal kingdom to join us in our work. We thought it best to start with domesticated animals, such as dogs and cats, who are already providing companionship and essential services for mankind."

Rotary International President Gary Huang, the first President from China, agreed stating, "Rotary members are men and women from every country, every religion, and every ethnic background. It is the appropriate time to look beyond humanity for new members and new outlooks."

Asked about a similar program by Lions International, President Huang distinguished the two: "The Lions have chosen to introduce wild animals as members, such as the Lions Gate Club of Nairobi, Kenya and the Jaguar City, New Delhi Club. We wish them well, but believe that our program offers greater opportunities for success.

President Huang denied that there was any lingering animosity between the world's two oldest and largest service clubs following the failed merger discussions last year (CLICK HERE FOR STORY).

As for her club, O'Brien admitted there were significant challenges expected in incorporating the new feline members, noting that cats tend to be strongly independent. "Getting them to attend meetings, let alone work together on club projects has been a challenge," O'Brien agreed.

Leroy expected his club to have an easier time of it. "The dogs are usually hanging around the corner gas station where we meet anyway," said Leroy, "They enjoy coming for a meal and a nap just like the rest of our members."

O'Brien and Leroy joked with each other about the media attention that the announcement had received.

"It's been a bit of a "ruff" week", deadpanned Leroy.

"We think our new club is "purr-fect", said O'Brien.

Rotary Public Image Coordinator, Sean Hogan added, "The pilot program will only run for a limited period - beginning April 1 in New Zealand, until 12:00 noon on April 1 Pacific Standard Time when April Fool's Day officially ends."

 

Copyright (c) Postmoderate News - April 1, 2015