To the Rescue
Each day, hundreds of small rescuers are hard at work saving homeless animals. Who are they? What motivates them? Let us tell you our story.
Helping Animals Rescue Team, or HART, is a newly formed rescue group with thirty-plus combined years of rescue experience among its three directors. Allison Marcus, Sylence Campbell and I merged our individual rescue efforts to best assist animals most in need. While most of the adoptions take place in New Jersey, where I own a grooming salon, our rescue efforts reach to New York and Tennessee where Allison and Sylence live, respectively. HART is not limited to a particular area or breed. By being open to all kinds of pets, we assist more animals, and can more easily find a home situation to suit each pet’s individual needs.
A large portion of the rescue effort of HART, and many other small rescues, revolves around what we call special-needs cases. These are pets with medical problems that must be evaluated and treated prior to placement in a permanent home.
When I was visiting Sylence in Tennessee last October, we stopped by the Cumberland County Animal Shelter in Crossville with some donations. We met a very young cat who, on account of an exposed wound on her rear left leg, faced euthanasia. We called Allison, who agreed to foster the kitten as we planned her course of treatment. I flew out of Tennessee with the cat, Astrid.
Dr. Parker at Suffern Animal Hospital in New York determined that the open wound was a compound open fracture. Astrid’s other three legs had been fractured but had previously healed at some point. Amputation of the left rear leg was recommended by Dr. Parker, and Astrid went to Animal General in New York City for that surgery. Finances are always tight for small rescues like HART, but we found a way to pay for her amputation. Astrid fully recovered from her surgery, and now runs, jumps and climbs; her lack of a limb did not deter a family from accepting her into a permanent home.
Also last year, an emaciated dog was brought to the grooming shop by another rescuer. HART agreed to take her the dog, soon known as Missy. This Labrador-pitbull mix, at just over one year old, weighed a mere 20 pounds, 2 ounces. Each rib was visible and her skull protruded. She had apparently been confined to a dirty crate, as her fur was urine stained over most of her body. Missy’s first bowel movement contained pieces of plastic larger than a quarter, perhaps from a food bowl.
She immediately began receiving a diet developed by one of the HART directors for restoring the health of malnourished dogs. Despite her weakened state and starvation, Missy was still an affectionate dog who adored anyone who showed her a bit of attention. As she spent most of her time at the grooming shop with Sylence and me, she became accustomed to other dogs and got considerable exposure to potential post-rehabilitation homes. After weeks of proper nutrition, physical rehabilitation, veterinary checks and lots of love from all who met her, Missy went home with a client of the grooming shop. Missy’s new family had adopted a dog from Sylence and me three years earlier, through another rescue network. They’ve since adopted a cat from HART as well. And Missy has bloomed into a beautiful, muscular dog.
Healthy pets too are at risk at pounds and shelters pressed for time and space. While the directors of HART are all too aware that we cannot save them all, we are motivated to save as many as we can while providing the best care possible. Each HART director often fosters multiple pets at a time. Making sure to never overload our homes or those of our carefully selected foster families, HART takes in cats, dogs and other pets.
Sylence, now in Tennessee, often visits the Cumberland County Animal Shelter to pull animals when their time is nearly up. When the shelter is crowded, illnesses such as respiratory infections in cats and kennel cough in dogs can strike quickly. This greatly decreases chances of the pets getting adopted. Sick yet treatable pets are the first ones slated for death. Sylence temporarily fosters each animal until transport to New York or New Jersey can be arranged; after the animals’ trip north, Allison and I will foster them or find the right volunteer foster home. As some conditions are not fully visible in the stressful shelter environment, the pets are evaluated while Sylence is fostering them and again after they are transported north. A veterinarian promptly attends to any newly developed or discernable situations. HART strives to not merely get a pet quickly into a new home, but to ensure that the pet will make a successful transition into the new environment. In the last six months, HART has saved more than 20 pets who were homeless in Tennessee.
Occasionally, pets are abandoned at my grooming shop. Recently a mother brought in and surrendered a pet rabbit, with her crying daughter in tow. The family was going on vacation and didn’t want to find a pet-sitter for the rabbit, so the mother decided to discard her instead. I offered to pet-sit the rabbit while the family was away, but this was rejected by the mother. So I assured the young daughter that her beloved bunny would be well cared for. Rescue isn’t just about caring for animals, but requires compassion and support for those who care for them as well. One day when the girl is grown she will likely remember the compassion shown by strangers — not only for her pet when her family would no longer care for her, but for a young child saddened by a loss.
HART’s ability to continue to make a difference in the lives of animals depends on public support. Foster homes are always needed, especially in Eastern Tennessee as well as the Tri-State area of New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. HART provides for all of the foster pet’s needs, including food, veterinary care and any medications needed. All our foster families provide is an open heart and a nurturing hand to care for these animals. Transport drivers, event venues and workers, cat snugglers at our adoption site in Franklin, New Jersey and cat foster room in Greenwood Lake, New York are also welcome.
HART is a New Jersey registered nonprofit organization. HART is in the process of applying for 501(c)3 status, but the application, requiring $400 to submit, would make a considerable dent in the funds HART requires to care for the rescued animals. As HART has no overhead, the directors take no payment; all funds donated go directly to the animals’ care. We hope to obtain 501(c)3 status by the end of 2012, so that donations made from outside of New Jersey will be tax deductible.
If you would like more information or to donate to HART, please consider doing so by visiting http://hartrescue.weebly.com and donating online. Donations payable to HART may also be mailed to:
c/o Critter Grooming
53 Route 23, Ste. 1
Franklin , NJ 07416