a rescue history lesson

Posted: January 28, 2013 at 6:43 pm

we were looking at the spay and neuter tattoo books at deanna’s, these were from her work with SANS..pages and pages, thousands of numbers and matching names. maggie asked..all of those many, many animals saved, over the decades and how come no one knew her name?
well…the senior rescuers were not supposed to be known..they were a small and very select special crew. if you needed someone to pay for a cat spay, if a low income person needed to re-home a dog..if a pound or shelter animal was up for destruction, via a chain of phone calls…they could be found. but they were distrustful of most everyone in the world and they didn’t trust each other all that much either.

most of them (but not all) were angry people..burnt out with sacrifice, betrayal, disappointment, broken promises, hardship and back breaking work, and none of it ever got better…each year it just got worse and worse.

you have to understand that 20 years ago rescue was different. the shelters didn’t call and ask anyone to save an animal. if a rescuer wanted to save an animal from death in a shelter, they had to get someone not outright stupid to go in and pretend to adopt.
the shelters distrusted the rescuers, the rescuers distrusted the shelters..there was this pervasive air of subterfuge and sabatoge..enemies on the same side and in the same trench.

very few were ever allowed into the homes, shelters and compounds of the rescuers…it left them too open to shut down, criticism or rebuke. they were a paranoid bunch but they were paranoid for good reason. these places had no money, few resources, and far too many animals. trusted volunteers were sometimes let in but most just dropped supplies at the gates. adopters usually had the animal chosen for them by the rescuer without ever meeting them and delivered to their new homes by volunteers. if they did get as far as the gates, they met the animal out on the road…dogs on a leash, cats in a crate.
it was a war to save animals lives on shoe strings, beat up hand me downs, hope and prayer and these women were strong and fiercely determined, independent and private and they could live with pretty much nothing but animals and air.

in the lower mainland, there were just a handful of them…but i did not know of them all. these were the down and dirty senior rescuers..and some of them are still out in there in their 60’s, and 70’s saving desperate animals in the shadows. some of them died in the traces while doing their rescue gig.

i don’t know how many remember bev but she died in a rescue fire trying to save the animals in her care.

a few are well known for various things but most of those things are unhappy things. not many are known for the thousands of animals they helped in their rescue careers when there was no other help out there.

these were the days before petfinder, before computers, internet or rescue blogs…everything was just word of mouth. these were the days where each one alone ( or with very little help) tried to keep up to the never ending tide of homeless and unwanted animals of 20 or 30 years ago…and there were A LOT!

it was a whole different rescue world back then and they became who they needed to be to go on.
and when they are all gone, few will even know they were here…just those of us who remember and know how hard they worked and lived.

11 Comments on "a rescue history lesson"

  • Janey says

    Great tribute Carol to some very great people. Yourself included.

  • Penny says

    Very moving. Like the majority of people, I had no idea.

  • Lisa says

    I remember Bev….that was so sad.
    I was thinking back not long ago….I am saddened by the amount of good rescue people who have passed on, died of cancer or have killed themselves.
    Some are remembered by some and others jsut seem to be forgotten about like they didn’t exist.
    Things were much worse than now and I don’t recall anyone fighting for the glory the way new start up rescues do (that don’t last long and fold up within a year ir two).

    I remember learning from a lot of these ladies….something that doesn’t sem to happen anymore since it seems everyone already *knows* how to do it best. Sad really.

    RIP to all the rescuers I have known.

  • Mo says

    I never met Bev but do remember the tragedy of her death..she literally gave her life for those in her care. I like to think there is a special reward for people like her..and Deanna.

  • Curt says

    What happened to Saints on the shelter chalenge this morning of the 29th?

  • Carol says

    i am not part of the senior rescuers janey..i am the second generation who learned from them….they gave some of us good and strong roots. and lisa you are right on with your thoughts in your comments..esp about the star spangled banner rescues that come and go..i can’t even keep up with all of them…quite frankly i don’t even bother any more.

    oh well… you can’t teach folks whose cups are overflowing with knowing everything…there ain’t no room for anything…esp. history.

    and mo..i too hope whatever comes after life, gives these life long rescue warriors forever true comfort and peace…they earned it.

  • Carol Ann says

    Curt I voted today

  • jan says

    Doris Orr is another one. I remember her when I was in my 20’s and amazingly she is still alive. Lichen and I were just speaking of these pioneers a few weeks back, about Doris rescuing from UBC labs and with no real public help or support. It totally turns you in on yourself.
    So many quiet unassuming heroes for us to follow

  • Jack says

    I follow your blog.
    Never comment.
    It’s time to do so.
    Being on the peripheral of rescue – Fostering and failing- too often – With ill seniors. Being aware of how most rescue runs.
    What you have written about the history of Women in Rescue – the ones who are the foundation of our BC Rescues- Really made an impact. Thank you for sharing the history of Deanna.
    Thank you for deciding that rehoming fees are by donation. That putting a price on a life is – really no better than selling a soul.
    Thank you for not believing in Euthansia for humans ( the new debate in bc) Countries that believe in Euthanasia for humans: heard a radio program a few years back where it is legal, the DR’s poled (anonymously) said they did it without the consent of their patients in much too high of a percentage.
    Bad enough we make that decision for animals –
    Appreciate too that you wonder about that decision.
    You also were the only Sanctuary willing to take a dog I had – Of all the ones I contacted. Who was a behavioral Euth candidate anywhere else but in sanctuary. Thru no fault of the dog’s – abused beginnings.
    As much as you admire the women who preceded you – you have a right to also be proud of yourself.
    Thanks & So very sorry for the loss of your friend.
    And so very sorry for the rest of us – tho not knowing her – Knowing from what you told us – that we lost a very caring,important person who made a difference.

  • Curt says

    Carol Ann

    The listings were all messed up this morning on the site before the gang met today

  • Janey says

    Whatever you consider yourself to be Carol you are damned inspiring to me.

    Glad you had the first generation of rescuers to learn from and so sorry to hear of Deanna’s passing.

    What you do daily frankly exhausts me. Yes, I work full time at a stressful position that I love (one one one with a great guy who happens to have 5 major mental health diagnoses). When I get home I get my ducks/house/next work day in order as fast as I can, make dinner and relax… How you do it all is beyond me and you have my utmost respect.

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