Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The Rescue Network

If you are involved in animal rescue, it doesn't take long for the word to get out. Everyone, and I mean everyone, will ask you for help with the dog they no longer want or the stray cat who gave birth under their house to 15 kittens. Unfortunately, no-kill rescues are always full. The likelihood of a no-kill rescue having empty spots just waiting for animals to come along and fill them is about the same as Vin Diesel showing up on my doorstep and begging me to marry him. Both are things that happen only in my dreams.

So, when we can't take an animal in to our own rescue, we crosspost. In the Rescue World, that means sending out emails to all the other rescues we know and asking them to in turn send to all the rescues they know, and so on, in the hopes that someone, somewhere will be able to fit this animal in. This is what I refer to as The Rescue Network.

The Rescue Network works, but it takes a lot more effort than it appears at first glance. With each rescue receiving over 100 emails per day with multiple animals in each one, you had better do more than just send an email if you want the animal to get rescue. This can take hours of labor. If you take on a crossposting, you better be prepared to work it if you want any chance of success.

Just before Thanksgiving 2009, we got a desperate SOS from a woman whose daughter had been hospitalized after a complete mental breakdown. The daughter's husband cleaned out her bank account, wrote thousands of dollars worth of bad checks in her name, and then left her and their 9 pets high and dry. Mom & Dad drove down from NY to rescue their daughter, but what about the pets? One small dog could come back to NY with them, but three dogs, four cats, and a rabbit were about to be homeless. Mom knew this would push her daughter, already in a compromised mental state, over the edge. She had to make sure they were safe before taking her daughter back to NY.

As always, we were overfull. No way we could take on that many animals. We could fit in the bunny, but none of the others. CARE Volunteer Kelly Whittington went to work. First, getting photos. Without a photo, your request will not receive as much as a second glance. If you have one spot open, 100 emails with 10 sets of sad brown eyes each, and 1 email with black letters on a white background, which gets crossed off the potential intake list first? Exactly. No Internet at the house (husband took all the money, right?) - so instead of watching football on Sunday afternoon, Kelly was taking photos of cats and dogs trying to capture the perfect angle that will make them irresistable to someone who might save them.

The photos are strategically cropped, descriptions written, and the plea sent out to The Rescue Network. The work isn't over yet, though. Send it once, and it will get lost in the sea of other pleas. Next is daily calls to get status updates from the owner. Has anyone contacted you? Are any of the animals spoken for yet? Then, sending those updates back to TRN to keep it fresh in everyone's minds.

In the end, a miracle. All the cats and all the dogs were placed in permanent homes or rescue within 2 weeks. It's unheard of. Exhausting, but worth it! We Volunteer in our free time, so this all is done in between our real jobs and family life. In hindsight, we probably shouldn't have taken in the bunny. He's the only one still waiting for a home! Adopt Figaro!

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