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The Politics of Saving Lives

By Tracie Fowler


 In a society of such mixed opinions and values, animal rescuers must be truly dedicated to succeed. Each group, region, breed and country has their own standards and rarely if ever are they exactly the same. Cooperation is often a concept completely disregarded. What is sadder than the abuse, neglect and euthanasia of millions of animals? The people who pretend they are in rescue for the right reasons and actually care more about popularity, money and/or collecting their own personal menagerie.

 Who are these pretenders you ask? That is the hardest question to answer. Is it the person who skims money off the books? The person who hoards dogs and leaves them in rain, mud, sweltering summers and freezing winters? Or, is it the person who slanders other rescues simply because they view them as competition? Sadly, it is all of them and more. Animal rescue management is not for the meek or gentle. There is always someone looking to belittle you, question your ethics and/or steal your ideas while they themselves are the questionable ones.  Some will stop at nothing to ensure they are the only ones that receive peopleís money and support even though they know you are saving lives. I know you are thinking to yourself, are there REALLY people like this? I can say without a doubt, yes.

 So, the question burns, what can you do? How can you prevent yourself from falling victim to these wretched people and their twisted agendas? Well, there are no guarantees, but I can make a few suggestions that can help.

  1. Listen to your instincts.  If someone sounds shady or ďoddĒ when you talk to them, donít discount those feelings. If they try to wow you with credentials or their unquestionable omniscient knowledge pay close attention to what you really hear them saying.
  1. Investigate. If the rescue is visibly run by one or two people, ask for references. When you get them, ask these references how long they have been working together and in what capacity. You should be given several references and the older the organization, the more long term relationships they should have.
  1. Ask to see the books. 501c3 non-profits are required to supply their financial records if asked. If they are unwilling to do so, be warned as they are not only being secretive, they are breaking the law. Also, the primary decision maker should not control the finances. It is a conflict of interest.

 Now letís say you did the above and didnít see any red flags. Are you out of the woods? Donít be too sure. Your next best bet is to volunteer. As a volunteer, you have more exposure to the directors and how things are managed. Pay close attention to how situations are handled.

 Do the volunteers work well together and maintain an amiable environment or is it stressful and dramatic? Are the directors professional, courteous and organized or are they emotional, disorganized and unnecessarily vulgar or abusive? The way a person carries themselves directly affects how they run a rescue. If directors have mental instability, admitted chemical dependencies and/or you find yourself volunteering for a rescue that handles things in a way that you would be embarrassed to act at work, home, with friends, etc. walk away. There are thousands of reputable animal rescue organizations, donít waste your time, money or energy on one of these imposters.

 In a niche society that is so easily infiltrated and exploited, you may think, why bother? The answer is simple, the successes. Feedback from donors and adopters who love their experiences with your organization, networking with ethical groups nationwide to save record breaking numbers of animals and even having shady rescue groups use your name and pictures to try and confuse the public into believing you support them are easy ways to tell that you are on the right track. However, all of these things are dwarfed in comparison to saving just one life.

 These are the pictures to answer the why: 

 Smiles like this are made every day by dedicated volunteers across the globe. Be informed, be diligent and help a smile come to life.