My Rescue + Volunteer Story
How it All Started in the Animal Rescue World
Back in the Day
For my first post on this blog, I figured it would only make sense to talk about my story in the rescue/volunteer world. It’s safe to say that I have always gravitated toward animals. Even as a child, I was around animals and had various pets. As I grew up, that passion for animals grew too. I truly knew something was different about me when my dad killed a spider on my sister’s bedroom ceiling that my sister and I wanted to save. We literally cried for about 3 hours over the spider. Though you won’t find me cuddling spiders or having them as pets, I knew my empathy went a lot deeper than it does for most people.
My mom was also involved in the veterinary field, so of course that sparked my interest in animals too. Additionally, we had a slew of animals that we had rescued as strays or taken in that became pets over the years. Animals were always my friends. They don’t talk about you behind your back. They don’t judge you for how you look or your flaws. Plus, they are also the most comforting beings to have around when you go through tough times.
So I think that along with my naturally empathetic personality caused me to feel compelled to help animals. It broke my heart to know that innocent animals who couldn’t stand up for themselves most of the time were subject to abuse, neglect, and euthanasia.
Off to College
Eventually, I got into networking and crossposting shelter animals on Facebook. That opened my eyes even more to the volume of animals being killed for no good reason other than human irresponsibility. My sophomore year at the University of West Georgia, I decided to finally be hands on in the shelter world. I started to volunteer at the Carroll County Animal Shelter. I would usually spend my Saturdays and Sundays there for a few hours in between my school work. Again, this shows how I knew I was different. Most college students were not volunteering for hours on their weekends. I felt it was my duty and actually looked forward to it each week.
At the time, it was extremely high kill. I almost never saw a bully breed on the adoption floor. Most of them were at the back of the shelter which I did not have access to as a volunteer. I remember the first time I went there, I got in my car and bawled my eyes out. It was a terrible feeling leaving the animals behind and worrying about their fate.
I could have decided to quit at that point because I’m an extremely emotional person especially when it comes to animals. I knew that would be selfish though. So, I went to the shelter for my remaining 3 years in college. In fact, the day I graduated I volunteered and brought my mom and sister with me for my last time.
Once I got back home after graduating, I knew I wanted to get involved again. I started the process at my local shelter, but then never really followed through. I was more focused on finding a career and moving out into my own house. My sister and I bought a townhouse and brought along our childhood cat. Since I finally had the control in regard to pets, I decided to start fostering 3 months after moving into the house in 2014.
My sister and I became foster moms for Society of Humane Friends of Georgia. We fostered a few dogs through them that were mainly super shy or medical cases. Thanks to them, we ended up foster failing (adopting) our 3 amazing girls: Bambi, Haylee, and Nadia. I will share their stories in a separate post.
The Summer of that same year, I finally started volunteering at my local shelter. When I first started, I was just going in on Saturdays to help with adoptions and mainly just to spend time with the dogs. I was a little naive to the reality back then.
Getting Really Involved in Rescue
Once I left my career as a teacher in 2017, I connected with a group of amazing volunteers at the shelter. We ended up spending usually 4 days a week taking pictures and videos of the dogs to network them. We actually were responsible for a boat load of animals getting out of the shelter alive and I’m so proud of us for doing that. It was not easy. In fact, some of my most painful moments are from those years.
It was a constant battle of advocating for those animals in need and losing ones you really connected with while volunteering.
I honestly think I have something like PTSD from some of the things that are engrained in my mind. I truly will never recover from some of those moments (sorry to get dark, but it’s the reality). Again though, I continued to push through because if not me, then who?
Now, I have been volunteering there for 6.5 years. Even though I am not as involved as I only go in one day a week for about 2 hours and barely network them anymore, I still find joy in spending time with the dogs.
Through all those years, I have fostered dogs through the shelter, transported for the shelter and rescues, fostered for Two Tailz Rescue and Barkville Dog Rescue (which is who I am fostering for currently). I sometimes think about the amount of lives I have had an impact on in all these hours of volunteering. Although, it doesn’t make the hard times go away, it does warm my heart to at least know I have made a difference.
A lot of people have told me that I should maybe step away or take a break because it does take a toll on you at times. The thing is, animal rescue and volunteering is what gives my life purpose. I’m not sure I would really know who I am without it.
Where I am Today
So here I am now. I’m a dog mom to my 3 beautiful, precious girls who literally save me in some of the hardest times. Honestly, I have no idea where I would be without them by my side. I have fostered 21 animals (19 dogs and 2 cats). Also, I have dedicated countless hours to shelters and rescues just because I have such a passion for animals. I will continue to do this for as long as I can.
I wanted to create a blog to share my experiences, stories, and knowledge I’ve gained. If it convinces someone to adopt, spay/neuter, volunteer, foster, etc then it’s worth it. Thanks for taking the time to read my posts!