there has been a lot of talk over the years in the rescue community about having a mentorship program, or a professional oversight or regulating body to ensure certain standards in rescue/animal welfare are maintained. the problem of course is the diversity in the populations of people involved in rescue. and with that diversity comes a whole lot of differing beliefs, differing experiences, differing goals in what folks hope to achieve.
its not really just about knowledge or experience...anyone can read a bunch of books or internet sites and develop a bunch of opinions...really it mostly comes down to personal values, personal character, to common sense and effective problem solving and even more so...to actual commitment.
i am really not interested in someones cup that is overflowing with knowing it all at any given moment. i am more interested in someone whose cup still had room to continue to learn and grow, that allows for self learning and insight into what motivates us to move forward by accepting our limitations, our mistakes, owning them, taking responsibility for them in order to do better.
there is no doubt that i am far better at rescue now than i was 20 years ago. 20 years ago. everything was much more simple, more black and white. it was easier to accept some things without looking too closely behind some stuff. 20 years ago we used to lose more cats to infections, to fatty liver, basically to high stress because we didn't know better how to effectively deal with feline emotional meltdowns. now we know, we have processes in place to help them safely get thru the transitions during a terrifying time in their lives. cats are far more delicate than other animals..but back then we didn't know this. it was a hard and painful learning road but we learned those lessons well.
there is nothing like an unnecessary death to make us learn how much we really don't know. and we carry those unnecessary deaths forever in our souls.
it takes character to accept our personal flaws and to live with our mistakes. it takes strength to stay with our toes to the line and not let our personal feelings and agendas knock us off course and over into the sloppy sidelines.
rescuers have one job only to provide the animals within our care a safe, respectful, comfortable and appropriate day to day life. our job doesn't end on the day they are rescued, or even the day they are adopted, our job continues should they need us until their life ends.
this is why i have no patience for rescues who do not take their animals back when in future need, or the ones who place animals inappropriately and refuse responsibility, a job half done is not a job well done at all.
and rescue is not just about rescuing animals and finding them a good home. that's the easiest part of what we do. it is the constant battle to bring in enough funds to pay the bills. it is about not wasting time or energy swimming in circles. its about seeing the problems, the issues, the roadblocks and finding effective solutions to move on. and above all..rescue is not personal. it is not a popularity contest. it is a real job with sometimes uncomfortable situations and difficult days that still need the job to get done well.
i don't know how we can regulate that, or even mentor that. when the going gets tough either the tough get going or we toss in the ball and go home. i suppose we could have standards of care for all rescues but even that is a slippery slope that needs to be taken with a grain of salt. the newest thing in animal welfare is capacity to care...this basically assigns certain amounts of space, staffing levels, and other resources minimally acceptable to each animals care. however when dogs 0r cats are kept in singular kennels vs in a communal environment...we need more space to house them alone, more staff to exercise or enrich them individually than we do when they are running and playing freely as a group. so capacity for care differs depending on how the animals actually live.
maybe there is a middle line here but sometimes it is hard to find that happy medium when minds are closed to discussions.
which brings me back to that cup of knowledge....we don't want it empty and we don't want it too full. it is hard to keep our minds open and be willing to think about things in different ways to keep learning new knowledge and skills.
i may not be the best rescuer out there but i will say that not for one single moment have i ever stagnated and stayed still.
rescue is a journey. the road is before us on both rainy and sunny days, the road is still there even if our knees hurt or our heads are screaming in pain, that road stretches out past the horizon without maps or signs to guide the way.
20 years ago i never in my wildest dreams caught even a glimpse of today's saints. and yet by keeping our eyes on the ball and putting one foot in front of the other, look how far we came.
so can we teach this? can it be regulated?...maybe. these are just my airy fairy thoughts tonight but maybe the real answers lie with the folks who took this journey with us and others...25, 20, 15, 10 yrs, 5 yrs or newby...what brought them into the world of rescue? what makes them stay?