Olympic water polo captain Tony Azevedo has always considered himself a "dog
person" and never really considered adopting a cat—that is, until he saved a
the last two years, Azevedo has lived in Montenegro playing professional water
polo. He says one of the first things that he noticed about the area is how
many stray animals there are, especially cats. While there, he and his fellow
polo players took to the animals and grew to love them, but they knew that it
was only temporary care—as traveling athletes, they couldn't take the animals
on the road.
then something unexpected happened: Azevedo and his friends heard that some
kids had thrown a white kitten into the sea and left her to drown. Azevedo, who
has been dubbed "The Savior" in his professional life, leapt into
action, proving that his nickname is well earned in more ways than one. Luckily,
the kitten was rescued.
it seemed difficult to adopt her, Azevedo knew that he wanted to bring the little
kitten with him. Ever since, she's traveled with the team around the U.S., to
Mexico, and back and forth to Europe. Azevedo's experience in Monte Negro
changed his life.
enriches my life in so many ways I never thought possible," he told PETA.
"I always though cats were aloof and unloving, but Snow is the opposite.
She sleeps with us in our bed and loves curling up on my chest for warmth. When
I get home from practice, she is at the door waiting for me, and meows loudly
if it takes too much time for me to open the door."
experience also caused him to think more about the problem of animal
have been aware of the issue of animal overpopulation for a long time, probably
because growing up, my family made a point to always adopt all of our dogs from
shelters," he told PETA. "But living in Montenegro really put the
problem into perspective, because not only is there a monumental overpopulation
issue there, the government does very, very little to contain the problem or
educate the public." Stray and desperate animals are everywhere, he says,
so it's not a problem that's easily overlooked.
in the States, the problem bothers him, too.
don't understand why humans think they have the right to breed more and more animals,
when we already have so many that need to be taken care of," he says.
"We domesticated animals, and they depend on us for their existence. We
have a responsibility to take care of them and to provide them with safe and
says that living overseas, he learned a lot about how to look out for animals.
"If you are traveling abroad and recognize an animal problem or witness
disrespect of animal rights, make your concerns known to the local tourist
board or government," he explains. "Make calls, write letters and
blog online about what you have seen and experienced. Many governments depend
on tourism as their main source of revenue, and if tourists are unhappy about
something, that is an impetus for them to do something about it."
also encourages people to speak up on social media and to take the time to
educate children. "One of the things I noticed while living overseas is
that many children have learned from the older generations that animals do not
have rights and can be treated like garbage," he says.
an Olympic athlete has the time to show an animal love and care, there's hope that
anyone can. It's just a matter of getting the word out about animal
overpopulation. "If this cycle of lack of education can be broken, there
is a much better chance that animal rights will eventually be respected
globally," says Azevedo.
think Snow would agree.
Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights? Read more.