The Intricacies of Pet Rescue

posted April 21st, 2016 by
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The Intricacies of Pet Rescue

By Pat Becker

 

The year 2014 seemed destined to race forward, pushed and prodded by the ever-increasing number of planned projects and events scheduled for all of the animal rescue and pet organizations in our state. The need for funds in our country to cover the cost of pet advocacy is growing daily, in part because of the awareness factor stimulated by national organizations such as the ASPCA and the Humane Society of the United States. More specifically, the people who run the pet help facilities in our city and state are desperate for financial help.

Every successful rescue has a leader—a CEO of sorts—with a board of directors and at least 100 volunteers. Some aid administratively; some assist at events and outreach projects, and some foster pets. “It takes a village…” is a trite phrase compared to the number of people involved in a truly successful pet advocacy group.

I have the heartfelt pleasure of knowing each of the folks who run these different organizations in OKC. I have witnessed their joy when things are going well and their tears when things seem futile. Statistically, the groups are run by women. Not so much of a revelation here; we are by nature, nurturers. The average age of volunteers is 45 to 65. (The “Empty Nest Syndrome” is a great recruiting motivator.)

It’s remarkable to me how these people can stay connected when they deal, from time to time, with the horrors of pet cruelty or the necessity for making the gut-wrenching decisions of pet euthanasia.

I volunteered at the intake desk of an animal shelter once, so I know firsthand what they encounter. A family came in with an older female Lab to “drop off” as they put it. I asked them if she was their dog. They confirmed they “had her from a pup.” Confused, I asked them if she was vicious, had she bitten someone. “Oh, no!” the father said. “She has been great, but she’s so old now. We’d like to trade her in for a puppy.”

Well, you can imagine how I “went off” on these callous, uncaring people. I couldn’t help myself! After the family retreated with the old Lab, the shelter director advised me that at the next shelter the family would probably just swear they had found her by the side of the road.

Needless to say, I was fired from my volunteer job. That’s OK. I could see that my “focus-connection” abilities were woefully lacking. Volun-teers must have an infinite amount of patience. However, the lesson I learned from that experience gave me insight into the dire need for education of pet owners.

I noticed in 2014 some of the pet advocacy groups seem to be more resourceful in soliciting and marketing—two of the most necessary abilities in running a 501(c)(3) agency. Basically,      to hold a financially successful fundraiser, most of the expenses incurred must be covered through donations. This means the organization must adopt a PR attitude and start creating contacts it can count on year after year.

Large firms which encourage employees to volunteer or contribute seasonably are a great place to start. Wealthy donors sensitive to animal causes, foundations that give yearly grants—these, along with other sources, are imperative to success. Each organization must have a person or group of people who can write grants and make personal calls and appointments… and do it all well!

Folks, it ain’t easy! There has to be a balance between the day-to-day “hands on” jobs of taking in the abandoned, abused and lost pets; having them checked by a vet, spayed/neutered, testing each animal’s temperament, placing them in hopefully forever homes; and the administrative responsibilities of judgment calls and decision making. Sound complex? You bet it is.

So visit one of your local rescues or shelters. If you can leave there after talking with a director or volunteer and not want to help in some way, well, that would disappoint me.

 

Many hugs!

Pat Becker

Dog Talk

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