Animal Advocates, Politicians, and The Valley Patriot

Valley Patriot Doggie Columnist Tracey Zysk with North Andover Selectman Tracy Watson and State Representative Diana DiZoglio. Zysk is the recipient of the 2013 Valley Patriot Goodwill Ambassador Award

 Tracey Zysk – March, 2014

Over four years ago, I placed a business card size ad in The Valley Patriot. The calls were coming in and clients started signing up for my services. During that time, Tom being Tom, started asking around North Andover, “Who is this Tracey that owns Wiggles & Jiggles?” People were telling him, “She is a dog walker but she is also an animal advocate. Tracey digs into issues and really fights the battle for animals.”

Tracey Zysk with Andover State Rep. Jim Lyons at North Andover’s National Night Out

Then I got the phone call … you know, THAT Tom Duggan phone call. “Tracey, Tom Duggan, Valley Patriot, meet me at Joe’s Landing, I would like to talk to you.”

I admit it, I was nervous, knowing Tom and his straight to the gut approach, I was literally questioning everything I had done and who I may have spoken with. Friends and residents of North Andover all said the same, “Tracey, either he thinks your’re cute or you really, really made someone mad!” Oh boy…I was baffled and anxiously waited for him at Joe’s.

We met and his first words to me were, “Heard you’re a straight shooter with a backbone and really put yourself out there.” At that point, I felt my face turn beat red and had no clue what he was referring to. He then said, “Ya know, animal advocate stuff.” With a sigh of relief, I took a deep breath and relaxed. Tom then asked me to join the paper and write about animal rights, concerns and local events. He wanted me to bring in some debatable issues and cause some conversation on the pet care page. From there the journey began.

Over the years, I have had the opportunity to meet and build relationships with local and state politicians. I have interviewed a few for The Valley Patriot, and I have made attempts to interview others. Of course, the ones that have ignored my requests had never really been a fan of The Valley Patriot or of Tom Duggan. In fact, Tom had called those individuals out publically on some sort of shenanigans they took part in, so I wasn’t surprised with their lack of response.

My articles started. My first article was about the North Andover Police K-9 unit. This led into a series of articles over the years regarding funding for police dogs, K-9 dogs rights, to the day-to-day lives of our local and State police K-9’s.

Devocalization Bill: Tom let me really push my personal beliefs on this. Some of the details were graphic and most certainly not easy to read. However, I wanted this bill to pass and I was determined to do my part. Animal advocates around the state kept the chatter going. Our own Senator, Bruce Tarr, listened to the people and worked endlessly to make sure this bill became a reality, which it did.

Jim Lyons: What can I say about him except HUGE animal lover and strong supporter of rescue and animal adoptions. Not to mention, he is 100% behind animal abuse charges needing to be upheld in our courts as felonies. Most recently, a Lawrence man was charged with animal abuse to a cat. With the backing of our Local and State politicians listening, the courts are hearing. It is pitiful people act in such a cruel manner, but I am grateful the judicial system is now punishing appropriately.

Other articles The Valley Patriot has allowed me to focus on include state regulating of grooming salons and doggy daycares. After a dog was killed in Canton because the dog was left unsupervised at a doggy daycare, and a dog was choked to death in western MA because he fell off the grooming table, I wrote my articles. It starts with awareness. It takes time, but then the process can begin.

State Rep is Diana DiZoligo, another animal lover and another politician I am educating more and more about the pet care industry. She understands my business and has been a huge supporter of my career choice.

I recently won an award and she was one of the first to congratulate me. In my industry, this was a huge milestone. It shows that our political leaders are understanding that the pet care industry is a “real” industry and is economically beneficial to our communities.

Animals do have rights; animals do not deserve to be abused. I am beyond grateful for that breakfast meeting four years ago at Joe’s with Tom. I have been blessed with the connections I have made through The Valley Patriot. The opportunities for me as an Animal Advocate to educate are endless with the love and support of Tom Duggan, The Valley Patriot, our local and state politicians, and of course all of The Valley Patriot readers. I love this movement that the general population is now considering our family pets more than pets and are considering them as our family members.

Tommy – Big sloppy wet kisses and I wish The Valley Patriot another “pawsitive” 10 years!!