for my fellow animal rescuers…

In Animal Rescue, Animal Welfare, Humane Education, Pets on Saturday, 15 September 2012 at 10:35

animal rescue is one of the most rewarding things i do, but also one of the most gut-wrenching, heart-breaking, and difficult.  but…the rewards are immeasurable.  still, some advice for my fellow rescuers:

“Rescuers Need Rescue, too.”

 By Chandra Moira Beal

 Animal rescue is deeply rewarding yet extremely difficult work.  To survive in this realm, one must find healthy ways to cope with the emotional challenges.

Here are 10 points to ponder:

1. You can’t save them all.  Even if you spent every hour of every day working to save animals, you still wouldn’t be able to save them all.  Take comfort in knowing that you are not alone in your efforts.

2. Work smarter, not harder.  Manage your rescue efforts like a business.  Organize tasks to make the best use of time.  For example, time spent recruiting more volunteers may make more sense in the long run than trying to do more yourself.  If you find yourself pulled in many directions, you might be more effective if you focus on one rescue facility, one geographic locale, or one species or breed.

3. Just say no.  Many people feel guilty when they can’t take care of everything that comes up.  Be realistic about how much you can handle!  If you’re feeling overwhelmed, it’s okay to say, “I can’t right now.”  Delegate to others when possible, and ask for help when you need it.

4. You are making a difference.  Whenever you question whether you’re  helping very much, remember the old parable about the man walking on the  beach, picking up starfish who have washed ashore and tossing them gently,  one by one, back into the ocean.  Another man approaches, notices that there are starfish on the beach for as far as the eye can see, and asks, “What difference can you possibly make when there are so many?”  Looking at the creature in his hand, the first man replies, “I can make all the difference in the world to THIS starfish.”

5. Celebrate victories.  There are happy endings to many rescue stories.  Rejoice in what is working.  Of course, seeing an animal go home with a loving family is the greatest reward of all.

6. Small kindnesses do count.  It’s common to think that small efforts don’t mean as much as large victories, but stopping to pet an animal, even for just one minute is worth doing.  Your touch may be the only friendly attention he or she receives that day.  Grooming, holding and comforting, or intoning softly that you care, are activities that many shelters don’t have time for.

7. Find outlets for emotional release.  Rescue work can be physically exhausting, emotionally draining and spiritually challenging.  Don’t dismiss your feelings or think you’re a wimp for being affected by it all.  Talk to someone you trust about what you’re experiencing. Cry when you need to.  Write your feelings in a journal.  Channel your emotions into action by writing to the editor of your newspaper or your local representatives about the need for animal protection legislation.

8. Take care of yourself.  Make time to do whatever makes you feel good.  Take a relaxing bath, or go out to dinner and let someone else do the cooking.  You need to recharge your batteries in order to maintain mental and physical health.

9. Don’t downplay your compassion.  When people ask me why I rescue animals,  often I’m tempted to say, “Oh, it’s not big deal” or “Somebody’s got to do  it,” when in reality I rescue animals because I care so deeply about them.  Compassion is healthy, normal and necessary for this work.  Let people know how important this cause is to you.  You just might inspire others to become involved.

10. Never give up.  When you get discouraged, it is tempting to throw in the towel.  Despite all your hard work, you may not see real change in your lifetime.  Still, giving up won’t make it any better.  Take a break, and come back fighting.  And remember the man and the starfish.


and for those who may not be able to actively rescue but want to help:

What Can One Person Do?


Here are some suggestions about items to donate and ways to volunteer. The suggestions are based on what many local animal organizations and animal control officers typically need.

Please note: It’s always a good idea to start by checking with your local rescue group or shelter to see what kind of help they really need, Some groups may be desperately in need of materials, like dogs beds, that you’d be willing to provide. Another group may benefit more by getting help with publicity. Checking with the staff first ensures that your donation or service will genuinely be of help to the organization.

These suggestions are based on what many local animal organizations and animal control officers need. Be sure to check with your local groups to see if they can use the type of help you would most like to provide. For example; if you’d like to help get publicity, you’ll want to ask in advance if the organization would like your assistance – after all, you want to be sure that your donation or service is genuinely of help.

Things you may be able to give:

Basic things many shelters can use:

•               Bedding; towels, sheets, blankets, a cat or dog bed, carpet squares

•               Cleaning supplies

•               Cat and dog food, cat litter, toys, collars, leashes

•               Scratching posts, metal bowls, dog crates, grooming supplies

You don’t have to spend a lot of money: Perhaps you are no longer using some of these items around the house, or you may spot them at a yard sale or thrift store.

Doghouses: If you have an old doghouse that isn’t being used, you can clean it up and pass it along for a dog in your neighborhood who could use it. Or give it to your local animal control agency and ask that it be given to a needy dog. Sometimes feral cat groups can refurbish and use doghouses.

Office stuff: office supplies, computers, office furniture, or equipment. The next time your office is upgrading equipment ask about donating it to the local shelter.

Coupons: Some shelters can use free or discount coupons for animal food or cat litter.

Medical supplies: Many spay/neuter clinics and some shelters can use medical supplies.

Humane traps.

Use of a photocopier: Many groups cannot afford a copy machine and would appreciate an opportunity to duplicate flyers and forms.

Prizes for fundraising auctions or raffles.

Things you may want to do:

Be a foster home. Open your home to an animal that needs a place to live and learn until he/she can find a home.

Set up a donation coin can or food program. Create donation cans and place them in area businesses OR pet food donation collection bins at local super markets.

Fix an animal. Help a friend or acquaintance fix their pet. To find a local low-cost spay neuter program call 1-800-248 PETS OR 1-888-PETS911 OR visit: http://www.1888pets911.org

Donate your special skills and talents:

•               Computer skills: Create or manage a website for a local group, or help create a mailing list database.

•               Desktop publishing skills: Create a brochure, newsletters, or posters.

•               Sewing, knitting, or crocheting talent: Offer to make pet beds or catnip mice.

•               Building/Construction skills: Make repairs around the shelter, or build doghouses or feral cat shelters

and feeding stations.

•               Writing talent: Offer to write their newsletter or an article for the local paper.

•               Organizational skills: Help out with administrative tasks or event planning.

•               Gardening skills: Ask if you can help beautify the landscaping around the shelter.

Provide care for shelter animals. Volunteer to clean cages, feed, groom, or walk the animals in a local shelter.

Feed a feral, or two, or three. . . Many organizations practice trap/neuter/return and can use help with feeding cats. Offering to help with feeding once or twice a week can provide a nice break for a busy caregiver.

Promote animal adoptions:

•               List homeless animals on an adoption website (contact us for a list of sites).

•               Photograph shelter animals.

•               Create adoption posters and hang them around the community.

Tell your friends and neighbors. Don’t underestimate the value of word of mouth. Tell others what you are doing and why. Invite them to help out too.

Larger projects you could help to organize:

Plan a fundraising event. This could be as simple as holding a yard sale and donating the proceeds to a shelter, or as involved as planning a benefit auction or walk-a-thon. We have helpful information on planning some types of events.

Organize an adoption event. We have a manual on planning Super Adoption events and off-site adoption programs.

Coordinate a local feral cat spay/neuter program or one-day event.  We can offer advice on how to do this.

Start a local organization or program. Create a community animal welfare group or volunteer Brigade to help other local groups. We can send you information on starting a local program to help the animals.

Start a community e-group to help unite like-minded people, spread the word about animals in need of homes, promote local events, and volunteer opportunities. An excellent model is the Austin Pets Alive No-Kill Handbill. You can see a sample at: http://www.io.com/~mvb/ARCHIVE/ or subscribe at: http://www.austinpetsalive.org

Create a local event: You could plan a local observance of: National Homeless Animals’ Day (www.isaronline.org), National Feral Cat Day (www.alleycat.org), or Spay Day USA (www.ddaf.org).

Start a Week for the Animals. We have a manual to help you create a Week for the Animals in your town, city or state.

Retrieved from: http://www.bestfriends.org/nomorehomelesspets/pdf/WhatOnePerson.pdf

100 Ways To Help A Rescue Without Adopting or Fostering:

Can you:1. Transport a cat/dog?

2. Donate a dog/cat bed or towels or other *bedding* type items?

3. Donate MONEY?

4. Donate a Kong? A Nylabone? A hercules? cat toys?

5. Donate a crate?

6. Donate an x-pen or baby gates?

7. Donate a food dish or a stainless bucket for a crate?

8. Donate a leash?

9. Donate a collar?

10 .Donate some treats or a bag of food?

11 .Donate a halti or promise collar or a gentle leader?

12. Walk a dog?

13. Groom a dog?

14 .Donate some grooming supplies (shampoos, combs, brushes, etc.)?

15 .Go to the local shelter and see if that dog is the breed the shelter says it is or go with rescue to be a second opinion on the dog?

16. Make a few phone calls?

17. Mail out applications to people who’ve requested them?

18. Provide local vet clinics with contact information for educational materials on responsible pet ownership?

19. Drive a dog to and from vet appointments?

20. Donate long distance calling cards?

21. Donate the use of your scanner or digital camera?

22. Donate the use of a photocopier?

23. Attend public education days and try to educate people on responsible pet ownership?

24. Donate a gift certificate to a pet store?

25. Donate a raffle item if your club is holding a fund raiser?

26. Donate flea stuff(Advantage, etc.)?

27. Donate Heartworn pills?

28. Donate a canine/feline first aid kit?

29. Provide a shoulder to cry on when the rescue person is overwhelmed?

30. Pay the boarding fees to board a dog for a week? Two weeks?

31. Be a Santi-paws foster to give the foster a break for a few hours or days?

32. Clip coupons for dog/cat food or treats?

33. Bake some homemade doggie biscuits?

34 .Make book purchases through Amazon via a web site that contributes commissions earned to a rescue group?

35. Host rescue photos with an infornation link on your website. ?

36. Donate time to take good photos of foster dogs for adoption flyers, etc.?

37. Conduct a home visit or accompany a rescue person on the home visit?

38. Go with rescue person to the vet to help if there is more than one dog?

39. Have a yard sale and donate the money to rescue?

40. Be volunteer to do rescue in your area?

41. Take advantage of a promotion on the web or store offering a free ID tag and instead of getting it for your own dog, have the tag inscribed with your Club’s name and phone # to contact?

42. Talk to all your friends about adopting and fostering rescue dogs?

43. Donate vet services or can you help by donating a spay or neuter each year or some vaccinations?

44. Interview vets to encourage them to offer discounts to rescues?

45. Write a column for your local newspaper or club newsletter on dogs on dogs currently looking for homes or ways to help rescue?

46. Take photos of dogs available for adoption for use by the Club?

47. Maintain web sites listing/showing dogs available?

48. Help organize and run fundraising events?

49. Help maintain the paperwork files associated with each dog or enter the infonnation into a database?

50. Tattoo a rescued dog?

51. Microchip a rescued dog?

52. Loan your carpet steam cleaner to someone who has fostered a dog that was sick or marked in the house?

53. Donate a bottle of bleach or other cleaning products?

54. Donate or loan a portable dog run to someone who doesn’t have a quarantine area for quarantining a dog that has an unknown vaccination history and has been in a shelter?

55. Drive the fosters’ children to an activity so that the foster can take the dog to obedience class?

56. Use your video camera to film a rescue dog in action?

57. Pay the cost of taking a dog to obedience class?

58. Be the one to take the dog to its obedience class?

59. Go to the foster home once a week with your children and dogs to help socialize the dog?

60. Help the foster clean up the yard (yes, we also have to scoop what those foster dogs poop)

61. Offer to test the foster dog with cats?

62. Pay for the dog to be groomed or take the dog to a *Do It Yourself* Grooming Place?

63. Bring the foster take out so the foster doesn’t have to cook dinner?

64. Pay a house-cleaning service to do the spring cleaning for someone who fosters dogs all the time?

65. Lend your artistic talents to your club’s newsletter, fundraising ideas, t-shirt designs?

66. Donate printer paper, envelopes and stamps to your club?

67. Go with a rescue person to the vet if a foster dog needs to be euthanized ?

68. Go to local shelters and meet with shelter staff about how to identify your breed or provide photos and breed infonnation showing the different types of that breed may come in and the different colour combinations?

69. Go to local businesses and solicit donations for a club’s fundraising event?

70. Offer to try and help owners be better pet owners by holding a grooming seminar?

71. Help pet owners be better pet owners by being available to answer training questions?

72. Loan a crate if a dog needs to travel by air?

73. Put together an *Owner’s Manual* for those who adopt rescued dogs of your breed?

74. Provide post-adoption follow up or support?

75 .Donate a coupon for a free car wash or gas or inside cleaning of a vehicle?

76. Pay for an ad in your local/metropolitan paper to help place rescue dogs?

77. Volunteer to screen calls for that ad?

78. Get some friends together to build/repair pens for a foster home?

79. Microchip your own pups if you are a breeder, and register the chips, so if your dogs ever come into rescue, you can be contacted to take responsibility for your pup?

80. Donate a small percentage of the sale of each pup to rescue if you are a breeder?

81. Buy two of those really neat dog-items you “have to have” and donate one to Rescue?

82. Make financial arrangements in your will to cover the cost of caring for your dogs after you are gone -so Rescue won’t have to?

83. Make a bequest in your will to your local or national Rescue?

84. Donate your professional services as an accountant or lawyer?

85. Donate other services if you run your own business?

86. Donate the use of a vehicle if you own a car dealership?

87. Loan your cell phone (and cover costs for any calls) to s/one driving a rescued dog?

88. Donate your *used* dog dryer when you get a new one?

89. Let rescue know when you’ll be flying and that you’d be willing to be a rescued dog’s escort?

90. Do something not listed above to help rescue?

91. Donate a doggy seatbelt?

92. Donate a grid for a van or other vehicle?

93. Organize a rescued dog picnic or other event to reunite the rescued dogs that have been placed?

94. Donate other types of doggy/kitty toys that might be safe for rescued animals?

95. Donate a roll-a-treat or Buster cube?

96. Donate clickers or a video on clicker training?

97. Donate materials for a quarantine area at a foster’s home?

98. Donate sheets of linoleum or other flooring materials to put under crates to protect the foster’s floor?

99. Donate an engraving tool to make ID tags for each of the rescued dogs?

lOO. Remember that rescuing a dog involves the effort and time of many people and make yourself available on an emergency basis to do *whatever* is needed?



Thanks for your comments!

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: