Dear Mom and Dad,
There is a cat in the utility room. I found him begging
for food in the McDonald's parking lot, and decided to bring
him home. I hope that you don't mind! He's really nice and
has a loud purr, so I'm calling him Harley.
I'll be back at midnight!
This was the note taped to the front door when my parents got home one Saturday evening. I was sixteen years old, and already showing the signs of being a rescuer at heart. Granted, it was not MY largesse that I was being generous with. Though my parents owned 30 acres of land in Missouri farm country: if anyone could take on an extra cat, we could.
Only... about six months earlier, I had rescued a kitten. A classmate told us sadly that her father, a farmer, was going to kill a litter of kittens if they didn't find homes; they had far too many cats already. Well, I of course agreed to rid them of one of those kittens, so drove to her farm after school with my brother, and picked out a little black fluffball that we named Suki. Only to find out the week after that they had managed to find homes for all but one, who was going to die that night. Back I went to her farm, and took away Wendy, a little tabby.
Two years before that, I spent some time working at my aunt's Colorado ranch for a summer, with the idea that for my help, I would get to keep one of her surplus horses. I did come back with that horse... a lovely quarter horse mare, PLUS a pregnant Appaloosa for my brother, twenty ducks, a bird dog, and two survivor kittens. (The kittens were the only survivors of an entire feral litter that was attacked by an enraged tomcat. They were inexplicably white long-hairs with blue eyes.)
I'm not telling these stories to illustrate that I am a great and wonderful rescuer (because I'm not) - but to make a little bit of fun of myself - I have the willpower of a noodle when it comes to little (and big) furry faces. This is why it would be a bad idea for me to work at a shelter. I KNOW what would happen. All someone has to do to reduce me to tears is to mention that an animal's time in the shelter is "running out," or that poor Fido or Leo has been in a cage for months and months. Yeah, I would have a houseful of animals in no time flat. You know, a houseful being more than my current houseful.
I was fortunate; as a young teenager, that my parents had the space to keep these animals, and really, the desire to let them stay on even if I did have to endure some teasing about my err... tendencies to bring them home. We had the means to take care of them, and we did. (Though life in the country was and is a whole lot rougher on the animals than what my current pampered pets are used to.) Now I live in the city, and while I can do a lot for the animals that I take in, I am limited to 5. I try to focus my rescue efforts into finding animals OTHER homes besides my own now.
Many, many of you are true animal rescuers, some of us are more "concerned amateurs," but it is a labor of love for all of us, and we all have our stories about how we got started. And I love hearing the stories! Let me know how you got interested in rescue!