Animal rescuers compassion fatigue seems to be leading to a lack of compassion.

Becoming an animal rescuer is no light task and typically we start after witnessing trauma done to an animal and this creates an obligation on us to right the wrong and try to create a solution.

So, we start taking on animals, follow our regularity systems, start promoting for money, foster homes, donations, go to your local pet supply store get set up for events and donations, and adopt out your first animal- now what? Well you do it again, then again then again and before we know it we have witnessed more trauma than we know how to deal with, we have more animals coming into rescue, animals being returned to rescue, maybe you find one of your past animals that was adopted online UP FOR ADOPTION even though you had a contract with them, and now you are beyond tired- you are exhausted, you cant remember which paperwork is done or needs to get done, you may have volunteers but you learn the hard way that some people who appear to have good intentions may actually be out to burn you, take money, lie to your face and yet these are the people that you are suppose to rely on!

After so long animal rescuers start to lose their belief in people, we know that some people are very good at hiding their ugly truth, how are we supposed to put so much effort, love and time into a living being to just hand them off to anyone? Sometimes we feel alone, unheard and we can feel a lack of loyalty. Where are the other animal rescuers? Where are the only other people in our society that will completely understand what you are going through?

Just today on social media I saw a few posts in word of mouth groups where younger people were asking for support and information on how to start their own animal rescue because they want to make a difference- Do you know that there are hundreds of animal rescue groups in Co? Everyone wants to start their own, yet we are forgetting the ones that are already here and doing it right, for the quality of life of the animal, not the number of animals that they can adopt out.

Let me take a moment to give you an idea about how to properly process a rescue animal.

1st. Secure all past knowledge of animal. Be prepared with a proper holding area for even the most difficult of animal.

2nd. Get animal on a healthy diet, to a vet exam ASAP and get animal up to date on all vaccinations and complete fecal test and heart worm test.

3rd. Complete 1-week quarantine for medical and behavioral observation.

4th.  Provide any training needed. For dog’s complete introduction to basic obedience.

5th. Schedule animal for altering and micro chipping along with any other medical needs.

6th. Place animal up for adoption after all medical is complete and animal is healed to avoid any broken hearts if surgery is not successful.

7th. Thoroughly process adoption application including calling personal, employment and vet references. Acquire proof of home ownership or landlord approval.  

8th. Schedule neutral ground meet and greet for dogs.

9th. Schedule home check & overnight fostering to ensure compatibility.

10th. Start 7-day trial adoption and collect the adoption fee. Provide adopter any training and support needed to ensure clear communications.

11th. Finalize the adoption after trial adoption is complete.

When this process is followed you are ensuring that no adoption will be done on a whim, your returns will be extremely low and your ability to show confidence in that adopter is higher. When done correctly it is not easy.

Any rescue not doing this adoption process is not doing rescue for the quality of that animals’ life- fast adoptions and rehab processes make money. When money is the goal to reach, we lose sight of the sentient being that started this process. So where are those young people? Why are we not seeing more support for the great rescues?

I am seeing what use to be a good Samaritan task becoming an industry. It is becoming about who gets to the adopter first instead of which animal is the right fit, its about collecting adoption fees but not altering the animals or doing complete vet care and treatment. When did we start to lose the compassion? I see animals being “adopted” out hours after getting off of transport, I am getting calls from people who just adopted a puppy and they spent thousands of dollars on them just days after bringing them home to still lose them to distemper or parvo and they are asking for advise on how to heal from that loss- what am I suppose to tell them? “Sorry, you just adopted from a bad rescue”?

How can we become a team again? A team for the animals, to support the animals we must support each other. Let’s build each other up, lets educate each other and let’s keep saving lives.  

My advice is to get to know your local animal rescuers, find the great ones and support them! As a fellow animal rescuer I am here to help educate and support- my advise for our community is to expect our organizations to not lose sight of our goals, support us great rescues so that we can regain our strength, gather our emotions and try to start our own healing process so that we can be better for ourselves, each other and absolutely for the animals that deserve all of us to help them!