WHAT IS AN ANIMAL RESCUER?
BY LINDA BLAIR
I think it’s important to understand that when you hear the word rescuer, it means volunteer. It’s you, me and
anyone with an open home or heart to help one in need. Human or animal. In the case of an animal rescuer,
we open our homes or find foster homes, just like with kids, that can offer shelter to an animal in need.
What does a rescuer do? Well, in the underground world, we read thousands of emails of animals facing
death sentences everyday. At first you cry a lot, then you go into action and get involved.
A rescuer will take in a stray animal or dog that’s on its way to the pound. A rescuer will walk the cold or hot
cement shelter floors, listening to the cries of sadness and barking from scared animal, begging to be noticed
and rescued. We see animals curled up in the corners, afraid or depressed. Others so hungry they’ll eat anything
deposited on the cold cement floors. We ache but we keep walking. We talk to ourselves asking questions
like what is wrong with people and how could someone so cold hearted abandon their animal at a
shelter. We get teary eyed at all the faces of the animals we know we just can’t help.
Finally with heavy hearts we make our choices of the animals we know on that day we can help, financially &
emotionally until we find them a new loving home.
If an animal has been fixed you fill out the paperwork, which takes awhile, and drive off with a scared friend
you’ve never met. Neither of you knows each other. If an animal is unaltered ( not spayed or neutered ) they
are sent to a clinic the next day and you pick them up, usually half asleep and take them to another vet for a
check up. If they have picked up a cold, known as kennel cough, they must be quarantined at a veterinarian
with a quarantine area, or a boarding facility with a quarantine, or someone’s home who has no animals, so as
not to make other animals sick. If they have mange it needs to be treated along with quarantine as well. Then
we have boarding costs, feeding costs and medical expenses. If they have broken limbs they must be operated
on and so on.
We then have to get to know the animal. Are they friendly? Do they like people, other animals?
What can we
tell someone about them? Do they need minimal training or extensive training? Are they housetrained? How
old are they really? What breed or mix are they really? We visit them at their quarantine’s as much as possible,
take them for walks, play or just sit with them to get to know them, them us, and to make sure they know
they have been saved and are loved!
I had one dog named Toby, my new poster boy for homeless pets that was so sick from kennel cough,, so depressed
he just would not eat or get better, even after 21 days. I finally said "enough!" It was on Good Friday,
the daily trips to vet were taking too much time out of my days and work. I took him home and kept him comfortably
in my dining room, much to my other dogs surprise. He was loved, he was in a home and he was
healed in days!
We have to make flyers with their story and photograph, posting them wherever we can in pets stores, grooming
parlors, hair salons, emails and so on.
Then we have adoption days. We have a designated place, maybe a pet store, or an adoption fair, where we
take our homeless canines and kitties and set up a small adoption area. We set up playpens, water bowls and
so on. In the summer months you hope to have misters to offer some reprieve from the sweltering summer
When someone is interested in one of our friends, we ask questions about their home, fenced yards, work
hours and what kind of a companion their looking for and the time they have to spend with them. We ask them
to fill out questionnaires about themselves, so we can best decide who’s correct for the dog and who the dog
will best get along with.
Older dogs are happy to have a warm place and love. Younger dogs need to be exercised more and sometimes
need more training. All of these things must be taken in to consideration.
Puppies, people forget they need it all; house training, simple obedience classes and a lifetime of commitment
Our job is healing abandoned hearts, bodies and match making. When we finally select their family, we drive
our furry friend to their new strange home with anticipation in our heart. We walk the yard and look for places
they might escape. Once we’ve done our home check, paperwork, taken the final picture of the new happy
family, we must give a last hug and drive away. We usually cry. Not necessarily because we are sad, but because
we gave so much of ourselves, saved a life, our job is complete, they will be sorely missed.
must switch our thoughts and focus on the next one.
This is the life of an animal rescuer…
-- Linda Blair