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An Open Letter to Animal Rescuers

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Dear Animal Rescuer,

This letter is a simple attempt to acknowledge the hard work you do each day keeping animals safe. I want you to know that your work has not gone unnoticed and I want to say thank you.

I know how many nights you’ve spent in your car, waiting for a stray cat to make the decision to enter a metal cage for a bite of food. I know that you are the first ones on the scene of disasters, long before HSUS shows up with their cameras. I know how many dogs and cats you’ve picked up from County at the twelfth hour, minutes before they were going to be euthanized, and I know how you often pay boarding costs out of your own pocket to give them a chance at life. I know that you spend hours late at night searching Craigslist for “free to a good home” ads because you are one of the few who realize these animals will be picked up and sold as lab animals, or used as bait animals for illegal dog fights, or worse…

I know how frustrated you are with humans, and that you are often called “crazy” or “eccentric” or “unbalanced” for your allegiance to animals. Please don’t worry… most people are not emotionally equipped to see the potential beauty of a mangy dog, or keep their compassion for a cat that has just bitten them. There are many humans who will never understand you.

But, I do…

I also know how much you struggle with your own species, and that you often sacrifice important personal relationships, because you are so passionately committed to saving animals.

Try to remember that strength in any belief has historically been the dividing factor within society. It’s true with politics, with religion and with our belief in saving animals. Yet, it’s that faith that we are making a difference for animals, even one animal, that allows us to speak kindly to a person who asks questions like, “Why is the adoption fee so high?” or “Is the animal really better off now that you have it?” or “What is your return policy?”

These people don’t understand why you would rather spend your last dollar on a can of food for a dangerously thin stray cat, than spend it on a meal for yourself. They don’t know that for a rescuer, the mere act of seeing a feral animal overcome their terror to hungrily consume a can of food in your presence… well, it feeds your soul more than any food could feed your body.

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Some people say that your beliefs are abnormal – that you should never choose the life of a pet over your own health or your checking account balance. But you are one of the few that understand that money is fleeting, changing a life – animal or human – is forever.

I want you to know that I understand your rage, and that I try always to stick up for you when others accuse of being irrational, because I know how many emails you receive each day from people who, “will take their pet to animal control if they don’t find a home within a few hours” or “will shoot the damn animal if someone doesn’t pick it up.” I know how often you get calls from people who “are moving” or “just had a baby” and all of a sudden realized that they can’t keep their pet. I know that the neighbors who spend most of their time making your life miserable turn first to you when they decide to “get rid of their pet” because they don’t have the stomach to do things themselves…

Mostly, I want you to know that you are not alone. I want you to know that there are thousands of us out there – maybe millions – who try to make life better for animals every day. We may not all have our “boots on the ground”, we may instead donate time or supplies or money or can just share an occasional post about an animal that needs to be rescued. But each of these things is needed for animal rescues to survive and we know that you appreciate even the smallest gesture of assistance and support.

I want you to know that we are here, cheering you on, fighting for you to succeed, even if it’s not voiced often enough. I want you to understand that we appreciate you – that we know you are the ones who are doing the hard work…despite the weather, the circumstances, the finances, even despite your own health problems. We know you will never allow an illness keep you from cleaning a litter-box, or throwing a ball for a dog, or trapping a feral cat.

Thank you for all that you do to make the lives of animals better. You make the world we all share a better place…

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