Why rescue matters

Why rescue matters

This post is in honor of the magnificent, kind, good-hearted volunteers at Pet Haven- and all animal rescues- who make space in their hearts and homes for animals in need.


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There is a quote that is shared in the animal rescue world:  “Saving one animal will not change the world, but surely for that one animal, the world will change forever.”

As a foster, it’s sometimes difficult to recognize the impact I make in the lives of animals. I live in a small house that I share with my partner, 2 resident dogs, and a tomcat named Hank. I am the Director of Pet Haven- an organization that’s been around since 1952.  And I’m proud of the countless number of cats and dogs that we have re-homed through the years– thousands of animals whose future might not have been if not for finding themselves in a foster home.

Yet everyday I receive emails from pet owners asking Pet Haven for help.  Emails from people who can no longer, for whatever reason, care for their dogs and cats.  Many times we have to respond, “We would love to help, yet we don’t have the room.” These are the emails that I hate to write.  But there is a side to rescue I was reminded of today that I want to share.  The “good side” of rescue that serves as a reminder that good deeds need to be recognized and appreciated.

I was checking messages and a Facebook photo popped up in my news feed.  It was a photo of Petey G- a foster pup that I cared for a few months ago.  Petey G came to Pet Haven from a shelter in Arizona that takes in 200 dogs  per day.  Imagine that.  200 dogs every day needing homes. Housed in kennels- often 2 or 3 dogs per run just to make room.  Constant barking. So much stress for dogs who have already experienced trauma and change.  Yet there was a bright spot for Petey….he was chosen to be transported to Minnesota by a Pet Haven volunteer living in Arizona.  And so his story began.  Again.

Petey G was a hot mess when he arrived at my house.  He had been a stray, so he was shy and fearful and didn’t know what the heck was going on.  Maybe he had been cared for in his “previous” life- he was friendly enough. He didn’t quite understand outdoor pottying.  And he shook violently when I reached, gently, to pick him up . Yet within a few days, he seemed to understand that my house was a safe space. He accepted food from me (Velveeta cheese was his favorite.)  His skinny body began to fill out as he received nourishment and sustenance. He would snuggle under the covers. He suffered from a bad kennel cough, which I treated with antibiotics from our partner vet clinic. He was so tired from the chaos that had been his life.  Eager for calm, he began to relax into a dog’s life.

Petey accompanied me wherever I went- usually in a sling that I purchased from Petco.  He would snuggle down deep and watch the world go by as I brought him on the train, to my work office, and on car rides.  My resident mutt, Bizzy, slowly helped to coax Petey out of his shell by sharing her favorite bone with him.  One morning I woke to hear the “squeak” of Bizzy’s favorite toy- Bizzy had shown Petey that toys are a great way to get the humans out of bed in the morning. Petey made quite the racket, and was rewarded with a “good boy” and his favorite treat- a bowl full of food that he was able to enjoy in peace, knowing there would be more food for when he was hungry.

Petey G was eventually posted online as available for adoption.  I felt that he was finally ready to find a home that would provide him the care and love he needed.  And within a day, he had multiple applications from people who saw the same sweet guy I saw….a tiny dog who wasn’t all that pretty, who yearned for a life in which he didn’t have to scavenge for food on the street. Where he was safe, and loved, and celebrated for being the beautiful little dog that he is.

Petey’s adopters were first time dog owners. They were in transition- planning to move to a dog-friendly apartment in a month.  After meeting Petey and realizing that they were the perfect family for him, they stated that they weren’t able to adopt Petey until they moved (which was 30 days out.)  Knowing that Petey need to transition to his new life slowly, they upended their entire lives and chose to move in with family for a month, just so they could spend time with Petey to ensure that the transition was smooth.  Unbelievable.

Today Petey G lives in an apartment with his new family who adore him to pieces.  To think of how far he has come….to see this little guy blossom into the sentient, uber-sweet pup that he is– this is why fostering matters.  This is why rescue matters.  Because Petey G may not have made it out of that shelter, being the shy and fearful little guy that he was. And it took a whole host of extraordinary volunteers to help lead this little fella to his new couch.  To help him find his ray in the sun, where his new owners have set up a couch for him on their patio overlooking Franklin Avenue, just so he can bask in the warmth of the sun.  So he can be cherished and enjoy a slice of watermelon and wait for his people to come home to him every night.  So he can accompany them to their workplace, where he hangs out and keep his people company.

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Animal rescue groups, like Pet Haven, are constantly recruiting new fosters- people willing to sacrifice their time and energy to make space for bringing an animal into their home, with the sole purpose of eventually finding a permanent home for the animal. This is no easy task- we are all busy and have many things which compete for our time.

Is a 5.6 pound chihuahua worth it? I would answer YES, over and over again.  Because saving one animal will not change the world, but surely for that one animal, the world will change forever.

For Petey G, and the many other animals who have found their slice of sunshine on a patio, rescue makes all the difference in the world.




To find out more about how to become a foster, visit our webpage here.