Animal rescue is one of the most heartwarming causes. It’s amazing to see an animal find and thrive in their forever home. I have been fortunate to provide a loving home to three dogs. I also am fortunate to be involved with a wonderful rescue organization and see all of the hard work it takes to find a home for an animal end on a very happy note.
But, things are not always sunshine and rainbows in animal rescue. The truth is that animal rescue is hard. It’s heartbreaking. It’s frustrating. It’s scary. It can and will destroy your faith in humanity.
People who are involved in animal rescue will understand what I’m talking about as they see this on a daily basis.
Animal rescue organizations are constantly having to take in animals who have been abandoned because they are no longer wanted by people. They take in animals who have been horribly neglected and abused. They take in animals who have never lived inside a home as they have been feral their entire lives. They take in animals who’s only purpose has been for breeding. They take in animals from horrific situations such as illegal meat trades.
There are organizations who work with vulnerable communities and while there is usually a good relationship built, not all relationships there are positive. Animals are not treated well (most, but not all cases). It’s hard to expect a community that is struggling to care for their own people to care for all the animals there.
People in animal rescue often have to physically rescue animals in horrible conditions. I have known people who have crawled under decks and abandoned vehicles to emerge covered in dirt and mud with an arm full of puppies.
I honestly do not know of a rescue organization that is not running at a deficit. Vet bills are expensive. Taking in animals and providing medical care can cost rescue organizations thousands of dollars. All rescues are non for profit and rely on donations to pay for everything. It can be an incredibly tough decision as to taking in an animal with extensive medical needs and not knowing whether you have the funding to cover it, or passing that animal up.
There are never enough foster homes. No foster home = not being able to take an animal into care.
What most people don’t realize is that animal rescue organizations occasionally deal with threats as well. They deal with threats against animals (these are cases where if the rescue doesn’t take the animal into care, an individual will threaten death of the animal). They deal with people claiming that the rescue “stole” their animal (which FYI: animal rescues do not do that and do not have the authority to do so). They get people making false claims online against them and purposely trying to defame them. People will even recruit their friends to try and go after the rescue online once they themselves have been banned and blocked from a rescue’s social media page. People will spread lies and say awful things about people who run the rescue organization. And sadly, some people in rescue organizations will even be threatened will violence themselves.
Why am I writing about all of this, you may ask? Education.
What can you do about it? Foster, donate, advocate, volunteer and adopt. But, I realize that not everyone can do all or even any of these.
You can follow some local rescues in your area on social media. Attend a fundraising event. Do a bottle drive for a local rescue. Instead of gifts for things like birthdays and holidays like Christmas, ask for a donation to be made in your name to an animal rescue organization. These are all ways of helping.
The most important thing is to understand and be empathetic to what people in animal rescue deal with. These people are volunteering their time. No one is getting paid to do this. They do this because they love animals.