Rescue Journal

tonight i want to talk about the overwhelming sadness in rescue...

Carol  ·  Nov. 30, 2011

because the reality is overwhelming sad.

these animals deserved from the moments of their births to be loved and cared for forever. they did not deserve to be abandoned, they did not deserve to be neglected or abused. most animals live in multiple homes in their lifetimes and many of those homes just simply are not aware or care enough to learn to be aware enough to provide them with even the basics of responsible care.

so many of these animals languish and finally die on the street or in shelters without ever really knowing that they did in fact deserve a better life than they had.

the fact of the matter is that those of us who choose to work in rescue know this sadness well. it is what motivates and drives us to one by one followed by the next one and the next one to work to minimize the sadness.

we cannot create a perfect world where no animal is ever de-valued, nor can we turn a blind eye to the devastation that surrounds us. somehow we have to find a place in our hearts and souls and inside our heads that allows us to not be beaten and bled to death by the unending hopelessness.

because there is hope. the hope is inside us. we carry the light to make the world a little bit better in just a few simple ways that make a great deal of difference to the animals who come to us. first we give them a warm, dry and comfortable bed, then we give plenty of fresh food and water, we add some treats, some cuddles, a kind word every day, and appropriate medical care. soon we start knowing their likes and dislikes and they become a unique personality to us and suddenly for the first time in many of their lives they have these simple things that they can count on.

these animals do not ask for a perfect world..they just ask not to be alone anymore...forgotten and invisible.

i get angry sometimes and many days i am overwhelmed at the unending lines of homeless senior and special needs animals. and if i look out too far at that line stretching on over the horizon, i sometimes think..."what is the point of this?"

well..the point is that monty died with my tears on his face..not under some shed or bush in the pouring rain. every day of his life since he came off the street, he knew he was important to me. he had warm and dry and comfortable beds, he had his soupy food and water available to him, he had the very best of medical care, and he was loved. monty's life was never perfect..not from the day that he was born and not on the day that he was never perfect anywhere in the middle either...but for the last 3 or 4 years, monty was never forgotten or invisible...monty was real..probably for the first time in his entire life.

i cannot imagine living a life that is non existent, unrecognized. and that is where the sadness in rescue really ends because we take these nonexistent creatures out of the shadows of their invisible worlds and we bring them out into the light.

suddenly they become real.

the animals come marching into the light one by one...and soon there were hundreds..and in all of the rescues in our land...they became thousands...and millions.

and the people who choose to be involved in rescue made a difference to a million lives..that is where the darkness of sadness stopped and the light for each of them first began.

the only way to survive in rescue is to focus on what you are doing and do it the best that you can.
there is a lot of darkness out there in the domestic animal world..i have it in me to light a few more candles for them.



I can totally see where Barbara and Suzanne are coming from. For my crew of six cats this has been a bad year for vet bills - somewhere between $6000 and $7000 to date. That is over a third of a year's pension. But you also have to consider the cost of running a vet clinic in today's economy. Everything has gone sky high. Utilities, property taxes, you name it. The vets and vet techs are in the same shoes we are. They have make a living too. Kudos to the job they do taking care of my critters. You can complain about pet food and litter prices too. When you see a difference of 20 or 30 cents in the price of one can you know someone is making a hefty markup. For sure the cheaper priced store isn't selling it at a loss. The cost for taking care of the animals gets us more worked up because it is a very emotional issue but costs are spiralling all over.


I think this also brings up the very important issue of vets. Perhaps they are simply charging too much for animal care? I know there are many kind and caring vets who donate their time and try to help animals in need but I think there needs to be more.

Yes, I realize vets need to make a living and they work very hard but I do question the basis of many of the exorbitant fees charged by some vets. $700 for a spay? Insane.

To me, it's like human medicine. If you are letting animals (or humans) die because somebody can't cough up money to save them, you are doing something wrong.


That elephant has kept me awake at night on way more than 1 occassion...What can drive me to tears is people who do not give their companion animals even basic care & then a relatively small issue ..turns out to be a death sentence cuz it's gone too far and is now too expensive to treat.

As for the sadness in rescue..I get so totally heartbroken when I find myself on the net & see how many desperate souls are out there sitting behind wire on concrete floors . Those that were abused, neglected, dumped or abandoned, left to fend for themselves... on those occassions I hate mankind, I think we are greedy, self absorbed and I think one day we will pay for it and...we will deserve it.


ah i agree with you barbara..altho there are often other options than the gold star cadillac series... we do not do the radioactive iodine TX's at saints because we can't afford it..too many hyperthyroid cats come thru here. so we opt for a less expensive treatment and treat with oral medications instead...just like i won't do cruciate or luxating patella repair surgeries on extreme elderly is not worth the recovery time, the risk in their losing permanent mobility, nor the outrageous we treat conservatively with rest, anti- inflamatories and pain meds.

i think the bigger issue here with seniors on fixed incomes trying to cover senior pet medical care costs is...are their vets helping them to make responsible care decisions that can be discussed and negotiated by exploring the star vs realistic but still acceptable treatments vs possible euthanization (which i think for a beloved senior pet is kinder than dumping them at an unfamiliar shelter somewhere.)

one of my clients family members told me they would probably euthanize her healthy but senior dog if anything happened to mom...the family are not really dog lovers. i am not going to fault them for it..she has had a great life with her owner and if the only option is a shelter somewhere..i think it is kinder to euthanize rather than turn her world upside down when she probably never will find another home again.

the problems and challenges with seniors and their much beloved and very long term pets is far different than average joe public who accumulates and discards animals right left and center and just doesn't really doesn't get the life long responsibility part.


That's a huge elephant, too.
Our little formerly-owned-but-abaandoned-to-fend-for-himself cat just had to have surgery for bladder stones. By the time the monetary dust settled what with the actual surgery and the lab work (because we absolutely HAD to determine the type of stones)it came down to $1,000.00
This on top of an ongoing lesion on the upper gum of one of my dogs which has responded to NO drug or anything else, (and we have tried them ALL) which has totaled out at about another $1,000.00. And both of them are YOUNG... the cat is around 5 and the dog just turned 3 so it's not like they are even wrecked seniors.
$2,000.00 in three months blows our entire "discretionary" budget for an entire YEAR.
My daughter and special needs granddaughter live with me and the three of us live on a combination of my pension and my social security while my daughter is a full-time student. As a result of these expenses my daughter and I will not be exchanging ANY Xmas gifts this year and my granddaughter will get exactly three... one from each of us and one from Santa. We are at a point where the next pet that gets really sick might have to either go to rescue or be put down. There simply is no more money. And I am willing to bet we are not the only ones in this hateful little predicament.
PS Carol
With babies like Monty who are in chronic pain please take a look at
She is a homeopath for dogs and cats and has a full range of all the Tibetan and Chinese remedies and might have some things you could really use. She has an analgesic I have used in the past (when I had money) which doesn't take out the kidneys. It's worth a trip to her website. She's really quite knowledgeable and I think you would like both her outlook and her stuff.

Barbara DeMott

Okay so everyone is going to hate me but I am going to talk about the elephant in the room: vet bills. Many people can just not afford to care for their senior and special needs pets because the care costs too much. A couple of months ago our senior cat was massively hyperthyroid: we chose the radioactive iodine treatment since it has the best results. It cost $1700 and add on vet visits and blood panels to that. As a senior myself on a fixed income this has set me back a few months. Yes it was worth it: he is recovered and we love him. But I can see how people can become overcome by huge vet bills on a fixed or low income and can't handle it. So some of those special needs and senior animals care is just too expensive for an average person no matter how much they care.

Bunny Horne

Doreen, I wish you could meet Emily - she is an absolutely adorable lovable cow. She is so friendly and loves attention. She is like a huge dog. I love working with Emily.

I came to Saints from an article I saw in a magazine sitting on a coworkers desk. I did a tour three days later. When you do one of Laura's tours you are hooked for life. We immediately completed our volunteer applications.

I work in a high paced crazy environment and my weekend warrior duties are often the highlight of my week/month. These animals make you feel special, when really it is they that are so very special.


i don't know how many times i can make the same problem happen. i just did that on tuesday, i replaced the main page with the 2011 one. I've fixed it now.

just a reminder that i'm heading to hawaii today. i'm back on the 9th.

Carol Ann

oh I love this post and all the comments. I'm gonna go now and hug ALL my (used to be unwanted) old smelly dogs. They fill my days with love. Harold, Eli, Angus, Charley, Sweetie Pie, Lola and Precious. Over the years I have brought home many unwanted abused dogs and each and every one of them was a pure joy to have around. I wish people would stop breeding and take care of the ones already here.


ahhh..harry and gus were right at the very beginning of saints before we had even moved on to the first rented property and their mom was the most amazing person ever!

harry was an old matted unwanted farm dog from chilliwack animal control..he literally had a watermelon sized lump on his neck that we had to surgically remove. it was a massive surgery. but he was a lovely and happy old dog..had to be like 100 pounds or more and he loved to play with his toys!

gus was an old chow/pug cross who had lived with the same man for 14 years. one day the man remarried and had a baby..soon after, gus blew his anal glands on the carpet right next to the baby. new mom totally freaked out (ok..i will give her a bit of a break over this... she was just doing what new moms do when protecting their babies from utterly disgusting anal gland messes shot within inches of their poor babies heads...) was told to take that dog and get rid of him now. he went to the vets to euthanize and the vets called me instead.

gus had terrible arthritis in his front elbows...harry had blown both of his knees and stopped walking for months...their new mom saw them thru all of this and spoiled them rotten every day for the rest of their lives.

now that was a happily ever after, end of life story for both of them.

hey nicole??? want happened to the past happy tale pages..i just went back to visit gus and harry again and the past pages are gone???


I agree with Allison! To Carol and everyone else at Saints, you are an inspiration to me. I too am fairly new at reading your blog. I stumbled across your site when I was searching for a wildlife rescue (I had an injured crow in my yard). Since discovering your site I have been reading your blog. Laughing and crying depending on the events. I have since sponsored "Emily" even though my intentions were to sponsor a little dog. I read Emily's story and that was it. I love animals with a passion and was not even aware that so many senior animals were left homeless. Your site brings awareness and hopefully more and more people discover your site like I did. I had a daschund who lived to be 18 years old. Through his entire life he had seperation anxiety so bad that he did alot of damage to our house from chewing and scratching whenever we went out. so bad once he chewed our dryer vent off the wall hoping he could squeeze out the hole and find us!! But we never gave him up. I made a commitment when I got him and never once thought to get rid of him. He was from a petstore and came from a puppymill across the border. He had his anxieties from being taken away from his mother so young.He was shipped in little cages from afar and never held and nurtered at his young age. That is why he had these issues I am sure. My two daschunds i have now are local dogs and they do not have this anxiety so I have come to a conclusion that his early life made him this way. He was 7 months old when I bought him so he sat in the petstore for 7 months without love and a home. I have to tell you, when I first started to check out your website I looked back into your archives and found out that I new two of your dogs who were adopted by a lady in my neighborhood!! The dogs names were Harry and Gus. I met this lady one day while out for a walk. She was trying to get Harry to go pee on the lawn. Since he had just had some sort of surgery he was not using his hind legs. So I helped this lady get Harry on the lawn and that is how I met her. She said she adopted these two dogs and now I realize they were from Saints! Harry and Gus had some real awesome final senior years with this lady. They were spoiled and loved. She told me she scrambled them eggs for dinner!Harry was always laying on the front lawn and loved to bark when anyone passed by. He did eventualy learn to walk again. I was sad when they passed on and to this day always look for Harry on the lawn when I go for my walk.


Thirded! Allison's words are mine if I had known how to express them properly :) I often remember Ghandi's quote: The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.


Seconded! I too came to your blog through Turtle Gardens, and I have so much admiration for the way SAINTS and TG and so many other rescues carry on, one animal at a time. I'm involved with RAPS, in Richmond, and I know how overwhelming it can be sometimes.

The sad thing is that what people do (or don't do) for their animals is only too often symptomatic of how they treat people around them - the abuse and neglect inflicted on helpless animals is reflected in how society treats its weaker members. But Allison's right - it has to be our individual responsibility to do what we can, even if only in a small way - perhaps the ripple effect can radiate outwards.

Carol, you have my utmost admiration for all SAINTS achieves - and my support through votes at the Animal Rescue site and AVIVA


Dear Carol:

I am just a person who found your blog through Turtle Gardens and have been religiously reading your thoughts and day-to-day experiences rescuing and caring for senior animals.

This summer, I euthanized my almost 11-year old dog who had been blind for 3 years and had other health issues, including abdominal cancer. Many people that I know were amazed that I had not euthanized her years before, since she was blind and considered useless to them.

I gave her the best I could, and even though she was a special needs dog, she taught me so much about unconditional love, caring, and the importance of letting one of the Creator's creations live out its life in comfort and dignity.

I don't know how you do it day in and day out. You and those you work with are some of the strongest, most full of faith people that I know. It's like you are trying to stop a flood, thimble-full by thimble-full, while the rain continues to pour down.

Years ago, I had an epiphany that the only way the world would ever change for the better is if us humans would get our healing ("get our shit together") and that that had to happen one-by-one, as it is too overwhelming to try to do it all at once and because it is each and everyone's individual responsibility to be the best person we can be. All the best intentions and political posturing in the world will not work if the people are "sick."

Many of the people ARE sick-- they would have to be to treat animals the way that they do. You and the other rescuers have taken on the responsibility to care for those animals who are neglected by the onces who are "sick" and don't know the right way to act.

Right now, I don't yet have the strength to do what you do, but I am starting by taking care of my three dogs and one cat the best I can, in a responsible way, for their entire lives. My neighbors think I am a bit nuts in the extent in which I take care of my dogs to ensure their safety, but I do it because it is right and it is my responsibility.

You are an inspiration to me, as is all SAINTS people and those who work with Turtle Gardens and other rescues. It is the most heartbreaking work one can do. But the Creator knows each and every person's capacity, and has given you the work and the strength to do it. Many blessings to you.