What it takes…

Animal Rescue
By Dana Stearns DeMay

What does it take to run an animal rescue organization? There are the multiple daily trips to the Vet’s office, city shelters and groomers, transporting animals to and from foster homes, weekly mobile adoptions as well as many other unplanned, unexpected needs that always seem to arise, ALL while working regular jobs just like everyone else to support our families. But what happens behind the scenes? What is the real “cost” involved? Most have no clue the sacrifices that are made, and cannot fathom “WHY” one would put themselves in such a stressful, often heartbreaking situation.


The life of an animal rescue “Volunteer”
You have never been known as the “athletic” type, however, you have mastered throwing a 40 lb bag of dog food over each shoulder and have on so many occasions, carried a 70 plus lb dog out of a ditch, in the pouring rain, to your vehicle that sits along the side of the highway with its hazards flashing, while passers by just “look” and continue on their way. You have no idea how you will get the injured dog to your vehicle, but know you are their only chance, and with everything you have, you get it done.

You are constantly asked “how do you do it?” You are constantly told “you can’t save them all”. Your personal relationships suffer. Everyone around you gets sucked into the rescue world, whether they want to or not. You know what it means, and what it’s worth. Every time you want to say “I QUIT”, 25 pair of beautiful brown eyes look back at you and say “You can’t”. “Now feed us, PLEASE! :) ” Still, time away is rare. Time with those who are important to you is usually stressed, rushed, and delegated to get sick animals medicated, motherless puppies/kittens bottle fed, unfinished projects completed ect… You lose family and friends, loved ones both human and animal, through the normal courses of life, but feel guilty that you didn’t spend enough time with them. There are too many regrets.

You may have witnessed murder, rape and abuse trials, seen exhibits and heard testimony about the atrocities one human can inflict on another. You learned how to remain expressionless while dealing with the criminal element, how to ‘turn off’ the emotion, but have no idea how to harden your heart against the cruelty inflicted on the animals you’ve met. You think you have, but years later, you realize it’s been building in there all along, waiting for a flood gate to open.

Many nights you cry yourself to sleep. Remembering things you don’t want to remember. Images that flash through your mind like a slide show. The precious ones you lost, the ones you had a picture of but couldn’t save, the many out there who just don’t stand a chance. And the frustration builds because it only seems to get worse. Unfortunately, you must learn the hard reality that there is a difference in an “adoptable” animal and a sanctuary animal, and sometimes you just have to say no. Saying no is like giving a death sentence.

You lose faith in so many. Answering the phone is a dreaded chore, and checking email makes your stomach knot. Rescue politics make you ill. You get tired of being “politically correct”, “kind”, and even “polite”. You want to scream at people to leave you alone, to get a clue, to CARE, but they won’t, and so many don’t. You get tired of feeling the guilt that so many others should, and never will. You cry for the dog you have to put down, because the owner couldn’t give them that final kindness. And you know as they pass, the look in their eyes really just asks “Why?”.


“WHY” do we put ourselves through this??? We do it for the ANIMALS. We do it because if we can make a difference in just ONE innocent animals life, our time, energy and sacrifices have not been made in vain, and the unconditional love we receive in return, is absolutely PRICELESS:)