i think the thing i least expected in rescue was….

Posted: November 11, 2009 at 7:17 pm

how many different ways there were to actually piss people off. rescue has always followed the flavor of the month mentality…so and so is popular today and a moron, a lunatic, a monster sometime tomorrow. it is the nature of the beast..highly competitive (but we will deny this), highly varied (but everyone is supposed to do everything the same way or at least the way we think) and sickenly moralistic (there are more high horses in rescue than there are podiums from which to speak…altho with the inventions of blogs, the podiums are catching up)

obviously..i like the invention of blogs….a constant personal podium for me. it is not my fault some folks actually read it.

anyway..you piss people off with a blog…but hey, that’s just a given. there are other ways that i had no idea about…like…..i like it when folks deliver donations in person…it means i can thank them in person..or someone can, depending on who was here. i honestly did not know you were supposed to thank folks in person AND send a thank you card. i thought.. a personal oh yay, thank you so much, this is so kind and great was sufficient and then i could move on to something else that needed doing around here.
not so…i suck at the etiquette of rescue…it is lots of personal thanks and follow up with a personally written thank you card.
shit..why is everything so complicated…i don’t have time for complicated, get the card, think of a new way to say thank you that you did already say, write it out neatly…buy a stamp, drive to the post office to mail the secondary thanks away.

i get this is nice..but really do folks want nice so badly that it takes so much time away from the real work here?

how come i don’t need nice thank you notes to keep me helping out around here?

i will tell you why…because what i do here is too important to me to be thanked for. would you thank me for caring well for my kids? of course not..and they don’t thank me either. they know i absolutely had to, just like i absolutely have to care well for the animals here.
love me, hate me, thank me or don’t, flavor of the month or flavorful not…..i give what i give, where ever i choose to give it.

we send out thank you cards with the tax receipts. we send out a heart felt christmas thank you letter for helping us to get thru the year.

i didn’t think to send out thank you letters to the really nice folks who drop off donations of food, blankets, paper towels, toys and bleach..i actually thought that knowing these items would make things easier and nicer around here, would be thanks enough.
so i never considered that this would piss some people off.

i also never considered how much personalities would play a role here. different personalities need different things…luckily most of the core group of saints need the exact same thing….a happy well cared for group of homeless senior animals feeling comfortable at home. i didn’t consider that liking me or not made a helluvalot of difference. or liking each other mattered all that much too…. altho really, how could you NOT like someone who cared for the animals as much as you do?

i never thought that just being successful in building a well earned and good reputation would put you at such risk…but in a lot of different ways, it does.

i never thought everyone would automatically agree with me…but i was surprised that it sometimes became a very big problem because they did not.

and i never thought in a thousand years that the truly lovely (but sometimes pain in ass) saints animals could be penalized by the professed animal lovers out there…but they are.
i never really thought that adopted or foster animals homes would forget where that animal came from and who stretched to get them in here and struggled to pay their bills…i thought they would be our biggest supporters but in reality mostly once they go and the bills are all paid…the rest here are forgotten.

i never thought that people who sent animals here would sometimes dislike us so much..that came as a real surprise..here care for this animal for the rest of its life, but you totally suck.

and this is the thing about rescue….it is about the animals…but it also is not. and i did not expect that either.
it is about hard and lonely times, conflict, hurt feelings, disagreements that if not really careful can turn into wars. it is about sucking up and letting go of the shitty stuff the next time the phone rings and making room for the next one you apparently are going to suck at.

it is about balancing on a pedastle and then gasping for breath in the mud…it is about being forgotten when life carries on.

and it is about no matter what the flavor is this particular month happens to be…getting the work done, squeezing the hopeless in, paying the bills, and keep moving on….is what you promised the animals when you started regardless of everything else.

bottom line…i can afford to be wrong once in awhile…i can afford to make a mistake…..i can even afford to not be not very perfect…but the question becomes….can our beloved saints?

i really haven’t changed much over the years except..i actually have gotten much better at caring for these guys. but in the world of rescue, this does not matter either.
it is the non animal stuff that really matters..isn’t that a shame?

5 Comments on "i think the thing i least expected in rescue was…."

  • Charlotte says

    I personally had no idea that there was so much animosity in rescue until finding this blog. I guess I ‘knew,’ subconsciously, that there are only so many dollars, so many volunteers, to go around; there’d have to be competition of some sort to stay alive.
    Assuming much of the greif you get is out of either judging from afar or jealousy, and perhaps also – Rescue A keeps their animals in cages/kennels/whatevers, and has to keep hearing stuff like “Saints’ animals run loose in the fields and play all day! (for example) Why don’t yours?” which would force them to make up all the ways you don’t measure up, if that made sense.
    Far as thank you’s go – I always kick myself when I get a thank you card from Saints or anyone else – I *hate* that someone had to spend $ on postage just to stroke a donor’s ego. And I always forget to include “my cancelled check is my receipt” or whatever when I donate.

  • Tammy says

    It’s too bad some people who donate to SAINTS are only looking for personal gratification. There isn’t enough time to stroke their ego. Anyone who really knows SAINTS would understand that time is valuable and should be spent caring for the animals not fluffing the feathers of people. Besides anyone who reads the blog would understand that any donation is much appreciated.

  • Carol says

    it is not considered feather fluffing..it is now universally accepted as good manners in rescue. the problem becomes there honestly are not enough hours in the day to thank everyone because all of the volunteers including myself are working our butts off we have 110 animals to care fore 24 hours a day…not 2 or 3 or 5 or 10….110..that takes alot of time.

    in the end…we had to hire someone to do thank you cards and tax receipts for us…the tax receipts were critical, people needed them for their taxes and everytime we were late or lost someone, they got really upset with us so we hired someone a few hours a month to keep track and get them all done…i did not keep track of all the physical things that came in as donations and so did not have a list of thank you for things to send cards out to….most folks are great, they really don’t care. but some folks do want an acknowledgement and when you haven’t done it..and you don’t know who is who til someone lets you know that you dropped the ball on this and by then they are already mad…in the end it reflects back badly on saints and they not only won’t donate again but they won’t have anything nice to say either.

    it is a catch 22..cuz i also know folks do not really want their donations to go to wages..but again, what are you supposed to do? there are not enough volunteers to care for them mon-fri when the rest of us are working AND when we do have days off..we are all working here so we don’t have time for things not directly and critically related to animal care…like mo is going to write out thank you cards instead of cleaning the barns and taking the dogs for a walk?
    the animals would not like that!

    but…even if it is catch 22 we are trying to meet everyones needs…the animals, the donors, the staff, the volunteers and even sometimes my needs.

    i just want folks to understand..it is not laziness or ingratitude..it is just trying to care for all of the animals which everyone rightly expects us to do..but when we fall short on the polite, emily post stuff…it is not from uncaring, it is because we care for the animals first…we don’t always get to the second and third and twenty-third things on the list….maybe someday..but now it is a real struggle.

    i think if they understood this, they would be ok

  • Marisa says

    Having been involved in animal rescue a long time now I am constantly disappointed and dejected by your main point, Carol…that humans make rescue difficult, not the animals. It is incredible the physical and mental energy sapped from animal rescuers because of people bringing their own problems and idiosyncrasies and hang-ups into the fray. As you say, Carol, animal rescue lends itself to more morality one-upping than you could ever imagine from rescuers, volunteers and armchair critics alike. And when everyone is morality-upping, clashes and time wasted are inevitable.

    Thank-yous are necessary in any endeavour where donations are given and volunteers lend their time. But people need to be fluid in their expectations about how these thank-yous are received. You thank your supporters all the time on your blog and you make it very clear how much is going on at the sanctuary on a continual basis. This should make it clear to people that the animals are getting what they need but that you may not have time to get to all the administrative tasks that would help put the cherry on the sundae.

    I did contact a rescue once asking whether they had received my donation and they were very apologetic. But I hadn’t phoned to hound them or judge them…I only wanted to know the cheque had been received so I knew it got to the right place. In fact, I ended up volunteering for that rescue and I am glad I did because the animals always come first with them. If I had got hung up about the thank you I would have missed a great opportunity.

    I get frustrated that many people donate to large humane societies which are not doing nearly as much work as they should be for animals (although I know some are very good) BUT they have their publicity and marketing wheels WELL greased. You get nice thank you cards, you get pretty calendars and heart-rending advertisements. You get letters and address labels. And it’s amazing how much this sort of trivial stuff convinces people this organization is a premium animal care facility. Yet, I can’t count the amount of people who have called our rescue complaining that the large animal society to which they’ve donated over the years wouldn’t give them the time of day when they actually needed help with an animal. This is when I pounce on the opportunity to educate them about much smaller rescues doing much more effective work.

    A word to donors about your money going towards staffing costs. Do not begrudge this…particularly with a small to medium sized rescue. PAYING people to help animals should be the norm. These people should not have to burn out or give up personal relationships or personal hobbies to help animals. This is the martyr myth. How many organizations do you know who help children with no staffing costs? Probably none. They pay staff to get the work done necessary to help children around the world. Why should it be different with caring for animals? We need animal rescuers to be healthy, happy and focused. Allowing them to feed, clothe, shelter and entertain themselves without working two other jobs should not be a negative thing. When you donate towards salaries you help rescues care more effectively for animals and, often, INCREASE their ability to do more educational and political outreach. Just keep in mind how many volunteer run rescues collapse or deteriorate because people are overwhelmed and burnt out. The animals deserve better.

  • Cam says

    Marisa,

    Very well said. I enjoyed your post.

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