If you are passionate about animals and want to help alleviate their suffering, you may have thought about starting your own rescue or sanctuary. Your heart may very well be in the right place, but there is much to consider before taking on this enormous responsibility.
Get field training before making an investment
The best way to know if operating your own rescue is a good match is by volunteering at an animal rescue or shelter. If possible, take on as many different responsibilities as you can. Handle daily operations such as regularly cleaning up after animals, feeding and caring for them. Take sick and incoming animals to the veterinarian. Learn to match animals with proper homes. Get involved in planning fundraisers and writing grants. Answer phones and run errands. These are tasks you will likely be responsible for if you operate your own rescue, so it’s ideal to have a solid grasp of what it takes before investing your time and resources.
Consider being part of a foster network
If you are not up to the job of running a sanctuary, you may want to consider starting a foster network with other caring volunteers. Each volunteer is responsible for taking care of animals in his or her own home, and may also be instrumental in finding good homes for animals in their care. Although a foster network also requires an enormous amount of dedication and comes with its own set of challenges, you benefit by having a network of people to help share the care, financial responsibility and adopting out of animals.Visit Westchester Animal Rescue adoption center for more details .
Where to get guidance
If you know in the depths of your heart and soul that rescue work is something you want to do, and are not sure where to start, Best Friends Animal Society offers free guides including How to Start an Animal Sanctuary and Getting Your Paws on More Money: Overcoming Fundraising Phobia. As of this writing, they also offer a workshop. You can find this information on their website bestfriends.org.
Ask yourself some tough questions
Do you want to start a rescue for the right reasons?
Many people who start rescues do it as a labor of love. They see a need within their communities that has to be filled. Yet sadly, some organizations call themselves “shelters” when in fact they are actually hoarding animals or running pet shops for the purpose of turning a profit.
Making money is the goal of any savvy entrepreneur, but this cannot be the main motivation for starting a rescue. True, running a rescue is similar in many ways to running a profitable and successful business, and you will need money to fund your rescue. A true rescuer puts the needs of the animals first.
Can you make a long-term commitment?
For the sake of the animals, running a rescue has to be something you plan to commit to for years to come, and quite possibly the rest of your life. If you are not sure this is something you can work at tirelessly, year after year, consider a different career or business opportunity.
Are you ready to change your lifestyle?
Do you enjoy time to yourself? How about taking sporadic vacations or trips to the mall, restaurant or movies? I ask this because running an animal rescue is an around-the-clock job, one which will surely change your lifestyle. Rescue operators I’ve spoken with report averaging five hours of sleep per night.
Do you enjoy working with people?
You may want to start a rescue because you love animals, but you still will have to effectively communicate with people. Working with volunteers, educating potential adopters, making your case to potential donors, and handling potential conflicts with neighbors, are aspects of running a rescue.
Do you have support from family and friends?
There will likely be times you are burned out and want to throw in the towel. Seeing animals suffer, constantly struggling for funds, watching as people dump their animals in your lap, can all take its toll. You will need a strong network of people who support what you are doing, and who can be there to pitch in when needed.
If after doing your research and talking it over with your support network, you decide to go forward with your dream of starting an animal rescue or sanctuary, know that your work is vital. The animals are depending on you.