I don’t know what to call myself. I used to call myself an animal lover because from my earliest memory regardless of species, breed or condition, my heart has always been drawn to animals. I now call myself an animal rescuer because regardless of species, breed or condition, when I see animals in need my heart says “you must do something” and I do.
First, thanks for visiting my blog. After writing for a local paper for a few years, I started blogging online to further my reach, allow myself greater freedom of expression and honestly sometimes for therapy. I wanted to use this forum to educate, inspire others to adopt, volunteer, get involved and to see animals in need as not someone else’s problem to solve.
My first blog was a repeat of my first newspaper column that told how I became initially involved in animal welfare in my local animal shelter. Trooper’s Story describes well how I began “formally” in 2001 as a volunteer with the Humane Society of Parkersburg WV.
Anyway and most importantly, I’m an animal lover from birth. Have always been or at least as far back as 2 years old when I drug my first stray cat from our backyard into the house. She was pregnant and my mother wouldn’t let me keep her. But that was just the beginning of me trying to rescue needy animals. And the beginning of me hiding any animal I found in my closet so that Mom wouldn’t know. She finally relented after many dead baby birds were found stinking up my closet and my first official pet, Samantha, the cat came to live with us.
Until 2017, when I retired after more than 33 years working for the Federal Government in the IT world, animal welfare work had been my other job but fortunately one of passion and purpose. I did not find that passion really until around 2002 when I finally walked into that local shelter and became a volunteer and foster.
Beginning as a dog walker and soon after becoming a foster for dogs and cats, I became obsessed with helping homeless animals. After a few years as a volunteer, I joined the Board of Directors where I was eventually elected to be Board President which I held for many years until 2016 when I decided it was time to focus less on management and back on the animal that brought me to animal welfare to begin with. A difficult decision surely. But the right one!
In the winter of 2017, I created an organization to provide foster care for the animals of victims of domestic violence and those with medical emergencies who would have to give up their pets in order to receive medical treatment or escape violence. MOV Animal Safe Haven exists to help keep animals who are loved out of shelter and get them back into their homes when their owners are able to care for them. (www.movanimalsafehaven.org).
Six months later I left the Humane Society of Parkersburg to focus attention on helping other shelters and would soon create a new organization (www.animallivesmatterwv.org) along with my dear friend Michelle Earl to help surrounding shelters through independent operational assessments, education, collaboration, and community engagement. We know these shelters face the same challenges that we have dealt with at the Humane Society in Parkersburg and more! We want to pass on our knowledge and experience to these organizations so that they are better positions and prepared to address animal problems in their communities. Animal lives should matter wherever they are and we want to make that true in these rural shelter especially. See my blog on this topic from December 2017. I’m hopeful we can make a difference not only in these shelters but eventually all across the State where help is needed but lacking.
Over the years I accumulated a substantial family pack of animals of my own. Most are fosters that never left. Most are dogs that had behavioral issues that required focused attention and while successful in helping them, I couldn’t help myself but to make them forever members of my family.
I’m not a professional dog trainer or animal behaviorist but I have learned a great deal about dogs in particular in my years working with homeless ones in the shelter.
Especially those with behavioral issues (mostly fear based) and issues related to living with other animals harmoniously. I am very much a supporter of the pack concept in working with and living with animals and while I believe in love and affection as a part of the process, I also believe that dogs are instinctively pack animals and that they respond best to pack related reinforcement techniques. No, I’m not a big treat based trainer.
I surely recommend and advocate obedience training for every person that has a dog in their life and I find this sort of structured and scheduled training as useful for its focus on you as a leader for a period of time every week as I believe it beneficial for the dog. I’m an advocate for spaying and neutering of all companion animals (with few exceptions) until such time as animal shelters are not full of homeless, unwanted and unplanned animals and you’ll find my writings always slanting towards that bent.
Finally, I believe I was born to spend my life with animals. To be their advocate and to live each day with their well being as a priority. I believe helping homeless animals is my purpose and hope to make it such until my dying day. Whether its stopping to pick up the stray dog running along the highway or trying to change the law to better protect animals, its all the same to me. I’m lucky to have found both my passion and my purpose and in doing so it has made me a different person. And a better one at that!
So while rescuing animals in need may be my purpose, in some way I know that I am not rescuing them as much as they are rescuing me.