Ten Things Every Rescuer Wants You to Know

Guest post by Sherry Pfau, who says: I leveraged the wisdom and experience of some of my fellow rescue friends, and we came up with the top ten things we want the general public to know about rescue.

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1236966_588360574538446_1333286090_nTen Things Every Rescuer Wants You to Know

Guest post by Sherry Pfau, Founder and Executive Director of Wayward Whiskers Cat Rescue, of San Antonio, Texas

There are plenty of misconceptions about what rescue is.

I leveraged the wisdom and experience of some of my fellow rescue friends, and we came up with the top ten things we want the general public to know about rescue.

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  • Rescue is NOT glamorous. In fact, it can really suck sometimes. I have been pooped on, peed on, thrown up on, and bitten so hard by a cat I had nerve damage in my hand. We get ringworm and scabies on a regular basis. We’re vaccinated for rabies. We shovel hundreds of pounds of poop every month out of litter boxes or the yard, and we often inspect that poop for worms and other abnormalities (gross!). We bleed, sweat, cry, scream, and have regular nervous breakdowns. We go to the store at 2 AM for goat’s milk for a newborn orphaned kitten that a neighbor just found in their yard.

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  • We’re not in this for money. If rescue were a business model, it would fail miserably. Supply far exceeds demand, and operating costs far exceed revenue. We are told all the time that our adoption fees are too high, but most people don’t realize how much we actually spend per animal. Food, supplies, and veterinary care can add up to hundreds or even thousands of dollars per month, and our adoption fee is just a fraction of that. We usually don’t keep track of what we spend of our own money on cleaning supplies, air fresheners, laundry, disinfectants, and other miscellaneous items that we use for rescue, nor do we factor in utility bills or gas used to transport animals to and from the vet or shelter.

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  • We are always at or far above capacity. Rescuers have big hearts, and sometimes we over-extend ourselves because we don’t want to say no. We are inundated with requests every day to take in dogs and cats and sometimes we have to turn people away because there just isn’t room. This doesn’t mean we don’t care about the animal, but we have to know our limits.

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  • Rescues survive on consistent donations. We can raise $2000 in two days for a kitten that was thrown out of a car and needs major surgery, but when it comes to raising money for every day expenses like food and litter, the donations seem to disappear. When money isn’t coming in, we often go into debt to keep going. It may not be exciting or even very heartwarming to donate $20 towards cat litter, but the kitten that had major surgery still has to be fed and kept clean, along with the rest of the animals in the rescue.

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  • Please follow through. Rescues get so many emails from people who say they’ll foster, volunteer, donate or even adopt, and then completely disappear. It’s really disheartening to think that you’ll be able to save a dog from death row because you have a foster lined up, and then you have to back out because you never heard back from the foster. We understand if you change your mind or your circumstances change, just please let us know so we can continue networking the animal.

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  • We care about where the animals end up. Because we’ve put so much time and emotion into each one, we often keep in touch with the adopters. I love hearing about how well Muffin is getting along with the other cats, how Stewie snuggles up with the kids every night and how Willow never leaves her person’s side. Those animals are our babies while they’re with us and we love them like they’re our own.

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  • We will turn down an adopter. We’ve learned to trust our intuition, and not every cat or dog is perfect for every family. We know our animals’ personalities and we know who will do best in which home, and we will say no if we have to. It’s not “just a cat” or “just a dog” to us. They’re family. We miss them when they’re gone, and we want them to have the very best life possible.

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  • Don’t make a snap decision when it comes to adopting an animal. You might get caught up in the moment and think “OMG that puppy is adorable” or “that kitten is just precious”, and they are, but you will probably change your mind when that adorable puppy has peed on your carpet for the tenth time or that precious kitten has scratched your toddler. A pet is a years-long commitment; it’s not something to take lightly. Also, make sure everyone in your household is on board before adopting. So many pets end up back at the shelter because the wife didn’t consult with the husband, the kid is allergic, the cat was scratching up the furniture, they just don’t have time for the animal; the excuses go on and on, and we’ve heard them all.

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  • Our hearts break every time we lose an animal. Some of the animals we take in are abused, neglected, sick, and/or severely injured. It is our job to pick up the pieces and try to put them back together, and we don’t always succeed. There are times that we have to make very difficult decisions, and we always second guess ourselves or wonder if we could or should have done more. We mourn each loss as if it was our own pet, and it never gets easier.

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  • Rescue is not just running a shelter or non-profit. It’s fostering, donating, adopting, volunteering, and can even be as simple as sharing pictures on Facebook. You may not be able to adopt or foster an animal, but there’s always something you can do to help. Scoop litter boxes at the local humane society or walk dogs at the city pound. Pick up an extra bag of cat food at the grocery store and drop it off at a shelter. Use your expertise in accounting, tax laws or investing to help rescues with their finances. If you’re creative offer to help with marketing or advertising. There are so many ways to help; you just have to think outside the litter box a bit!

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Sherry Pfau is the founder and executive director of Wayward Whiskers Cat Rescue in San Antonio, TX. She takes in cats with special needs from the city’s high kill shelter and rehabilitates them. Follow Wayward Whiskers on Facebook!

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See our earlier Wayward Whiskers related stories:

February 21, 2013: Are These Cats Worth Saving? by Sherry Pfau

September 11, 2013: Be Their Light

July 15, 2013: Magic Mike: Kitten Thrown From Moving Car Gets Help

July 19, 2013: Magic Mike Improves After Lifesaving Surgery

 

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1 thought on “Ten Things Every Rescuer Wants You to Know

  1. I have been the live in caretaker for a cat rescue for 3 years. I completely agree with all she has said. I have personally held too many dying kittens, due to sickness and the unbelievable cruelty of some “human beings”. Please support a local rescue. Money is always an issue but fostering an xxx volunteering is something anyone can do.

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