When you wash up for supper with a half pound of dirt packed beneath your fingernails, it’s been a good day. Add to that a head full of windblown hair, something sharp poking through the bottom of your shoe and if you’re lucky, really lucky, tonight you’ll get to wash cat pee out of your sweater.
No, I don’t think I’ve ever met an animal rescuer dressed in a clean white shirt. It’s simply not in our nature. But the real secret of getting dirty has little to do with the stains you can take out with a bottle of laundry detergent. It’s about moments that test the very fabric of your soul.
A year ago, I formed The Great Animal Rescue Chase with a desire to have everyday animal lovers inspire one another with their acts of compassion and bravery. For too long, animal advocates have quietly carried out their rescue work in isolation, sometimes even ridiculed by those around them. I wondered what might be possible if we could come together and support one another. We needed a place to celebrate our individual power to save a life and our collective power to change the culture of animal welfare.
I could not have imagined how quickly a powerful legion of heroes would assemble. Ordinary animal lovers from all over the world have stepped forward to save the lives of chimpanzees, hawks, snakes, dogs, cats, alpacas and more. We had hoped to throw a little celebration for our first hundred heroes, but truthfully, that number came and went so fast that there simply wasn’t time. So instead we’re honoring not just our first hundred rescuers, but the hundreds after that and all of you who seize opportunities to help animals in crisis. It doesn’t take years of training or arms of steel to save a life. All you need is love.
A Sampling From Recent Heroes
New York Dog Saved After Being Thrown From A Car Window On Thanksgiving: Mary Garner of New York was driving along with her son on Thanksgiving morning and merging onto a highway when the vehicle in front of them slowed at a spot where they should be accelerating. “The person in the car threw something out of the window,” Mary explains. “My son had to stop to keep from hitting it.”
Turns out that “something” was a small dog with a sprinkle of grey hair on her face. Mary and her son scooped up the frightened dog and knew exactly where to take her…to her daughter. Today, the dog named Queenie lives a charmed life among other rescued pets and Mary and her family will never understand how someone could have thrown such a beautiful creature out a car window.
Saving a Mama Cat and Kittens in Italy: Patrizia Severese of Lombardia, Italy won the trust of a semi-feral cat nursing her kittens on the outskirts of the grounds of her apartment building. “We put food out for her and gradually she accepted our touch and came daily for food,” Patrizia explains. “She also had four kittens which she had made a home for in the foliage below our apartments.” Patrizia named the mother cat Petal and set about the task of capturing the very fast and evasive kittens. During the days that she worked at this, a neighbor sadly killed two of the kittens: an all-too-familiar act of cruelty and ignorance. Fortunately, the other two kittens have been brought in with their mother, now named Petal, and all will be spayed when they are healthy and old enough. Check out the photo!
Homeless Dog Who Can’t Walk Rescued When Factory Closes Down in Netherlands: Erna van der Ploeg of Overijssel, Netherlands reports on the rescue of a handicapped homeless dog who was left behind with 20 other dogs when a factory closed down. “All of these poor dogs were left to fend for themselves on the streets,” Erna explains.
From there, a coordinated effort among a handful of rescue groups and volunteers began with particular urgency to help a German Sheppard with deformed legs who could hardly walk. “He does not go fast, but (very importantly) he has no pain!” said Erna. “He can go outside without help. He can walk up steps and has learned in one day how to use the dog ramp to go down the steps. He does his business without help and he eats well and likes to play. Who, or what, gives us the right then to take this to lead a reasonably normal life away from him? Who, or what, gives us the right to take the life of an animal who is not suffering unbearably, who is not terminally ill, and has a huge will to live? We feel that Rex should get the chance to become more mobile, he will never be a world champion runner but that is not necessary.” Breathtaking photos here.
Cat Finds Love in Her Final Days in Germany Kelly Allen of Würtemberg, Germany adopted four shelter pets, including an elderly Siamese who the shelter offered to give away for free because she was too old to be adopted otherwise. Kelly named the cat Nym and gave the shelter a $50 donation because she believes that the value of a life has no price tag, and certainly not one determined by age. Though Nym turned out to be suffering from Leukemia and lived only six weeks, she spent that time surrounded by love and in the company of other animals who had been saved despite their “limited appeal.” See some photos.
Do You Rescue?
If you’ve saved a life, we’d love to hear from you. The Great Animal Rescue Chase is for everyday animal lovers, and is free for all. Please share the story and photos of an animal you’ve helped. You never know who you might inspire.
Photo credit: Howard Simpson