Sunday Conversation: Linda Antosh - Advocate for the animals
By Robert Olsen (Correspondent)
Published: September 26, 2010
Linda Antosh knows animal abuse and neglect is no laughing matter, but raising funds to support local independent animal shelters and rescue groups through comedy keeps her smiling inside and out.
The 48-year-old Exeter resident is one of the many volunteers who make up NEPAWS (pronounced knee-paws), the Northeast Pennsylvania Animal Welfare Society. The group of like-minded, animal loving altruists found each other and began collaborating after seeing each other time and time again at various animal-rights benefits and fundraisers. Two years ago the group had an idea come to them, literally, to sponsor a comedy show as a fundraiser. The show, Comedy Bash One, raised more than $1,200, with all proceeds donated to Blue Chip Farms animal refuge in Dallas.
On Oct. 16 at the Jenkins Township Fire Hall No. 2, Comedy Bash II will kick off, with all proceeds benefiting Concrete Angels Modified K9s, a Wilkes-Barre based, non-profit Pit Bull rescue group established in 1995.
CV: Why a comedy show?
LA: "We were at the Redding Pet Expo a few years back and this man came up to our booth. He introduced himself as Steve Bix of Comedy Blast Inc. He said his company produced comedy events for fundraisers for two of his favorite types of organizations, cancer organizations and animal rescue groups. He gave me his card and I came home and presented the idea to our group and we decided to do it. The first event was great and very successful. So we are doing it again this year."
CV: How long have you been personally involved in animal rescue groups?
LA: "I've been doing this for over 20 years. I like to think of myself as an advocate for animals. I like to speak for those who can't speak for themselves. I've worked with the SPCA and ARF, which is the Animal Rescue Flights organization. It's a group of pilots who fly down to the southern states and rescues dogs from kill shelters. They fly them up here and to the New England states."
CV: Twenty years is a long time. You've probably seen the best and worst of what is involved in animal rescue. What's some of the most heart wrenching moments you've experienced?
LA: "It's all heart wrenching â¦ and ugly. I've learned, going to these shelters, not to ask questions. Not to ask what's going to happen to the ones we can't rescue. In the past year, several dog-racing tracks have shut down, which is both good and bad. It's bad because those closings put over 1,000 dogs into the adoption market."
CV: Do you own any dogs?
LA: "I own three. All rescued dogs. I only believe in rescuing dogs. I have two Border Collie mixes rescued from the Luzerne County SPCA and a retired Greyhound rescued from Rhode Island. And I like to adopt older dogs. Everyone wants to adopt puppies, but older dogs need adopting too."
CV: How has working in animal rescue affected your outlook on life?
LA: "Well, I use clicker training with my dogs. It's a positive reinforcement based training method. There is no punishment involved. I've learned to carry that into my personal life, using positive reinforcement with all the people I interact with. It's like they say, 'You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.'"
CV: What can people expect at Comedy Bash II?
LA: "A good time. There will be music before the show, which starts at 8 p.m. The doors will open at 6:30 p.m. There will be refreshments for sale, and raffle drawings before the show."
CV: How has working these types of events inspired you?
LA: "Well, there is a quote I like to use. It's not mine, but I like it. It goes, 'I wish I could be half the person my dog thinks I am.' Some of the dogs have been through unimaginable circumstances, but they are always willing to give it everything they have. Some may take a little longer, but they always try to bounce back.
Visit NEPAWS on Facebook at www.facebook.com/nepaws for information on the group or Comedy Bash II. For more information on Concrete Angels, visit them on Facebook at www.facebook.com/concreteangelsproductio