Saturday, January 10, 2015

The 4 stages of Animal Rescue

When you see as many rescues come and go as I have, you start recognizing certain things. Allow me to explain what I believe are the Four Stages of Rescue.

Stage One 

Or,  the "I Must Save Them All" stage
At this stage, things are so new. Emotions are intense, feelings are raw and most rescues take that feeling of helplessness to the cruelty of the world and use it to make the decision to Open Their Very Own Rescue. How Exciting! This is the stage that normally comes after someone has already had just enough exposure to the animal world to see the real horror that happens, but not enough experience with various situations to be able to make decisions that are not ruled entirely by their emotions. They may even have the warped idea that having a non-profit will have people literally throwing money in their direction, because after all, they intend to save them all, no matter how impossible that actually is. This stage varies, and normally lasts between 6 months and a year.

Stage Two
or, the "Honeymoon" Stage

Maybe at this point, they have been relatively successful obtaining donations. They have supporters, active social media pages and a website. They have most likely made mistakes by this point, and depending on how severe those mistakes were, they have probably learned from and grown because of them. Rescue is not as wonderful and exciting by this point, and reality is slowly setting in, however, they are still new and the newness of their mission is still helping them to ride that "Honeymoon" stage in their community and in the animal Rescue Community as well. Hopefully by now, they are no longer making decisions based on emotion and have started to do real research about animals, behavior and community programs. There are two phases of this stage. The tail end normally creates a sense of capability and confidence, leading many to feel like rescue experts. This may in turn cause "SuperHero Syndrome"
Super Hero Syndrome is not all bad, because it does lead a rescue to try and better themselves, learn more, do more, and start up new programs that directly affect the community. This can give a community a great source for information, however, it also has a downside. It can lead many rescues to believe that no one can do the job better, that they somehow have the market cornered on responsible ownership and many may feel as if they need to carry the world on their shoulders because no one else can be trusted with the job. While a sense of responsibility is wonderful, it can exclude others who have the ability to help, create an us versus them situation, and give a community the idea that rescues are somehow superhuman, and that average people are not just as capable. This stage can vary the most, sometimes lasting between 6 months to several years.

Stage Three
or, the "What The F*ck" Stage

By this stage, the rescue has been there, done that. They have built lasting friendships with other rescues, they are often called the "Old Timers" of rescue. They are not bleeding hearts, they have dealt with situations that would make most new rescues run screaming, and they have established programs and resources. Because they are not New and Fresh, they can often be overlooked by supporters, and they often have their vast amounts of experience and knowledge dismissed by newer rescues and animal advocates. They know Dog Behavior, They know the Training Methods, They know about Disease and Medical Conditions, They know about Multi Dog Management and if they are Breed Specific Rescues, You can be certain that They. Know. Those. Breeds. Probably better than you do, and yes, better than new rescues. They feel undervalued and unrespected. This series of Photos is the only way I truly know how to describe this stage of Rescue. 

Yes, this stage is jam packed full of WTF as we try to make sense
of not just the animal rescue community but, where all the crazy is coming from, how people could possibly believe all the misinformation, how they could support such stupidity and how in the hell some of this information is believable. At this Stage, Animal Rescues Simply CANNOT with rescue politics and drama. They just CAN'T with everyone right now. Directly leading to Stage Four.

Stage Four
or, the "I simply CANNOT with you" Stage

At this stage, rescues are more than happy to allow newer rescues to take on all the difficult situations.  I like to think of it as the "Oh, You Think You can do Better??!! Be my guest. Do Better. Please." stage. By now, rescues are practically experts in their field and simply cannot with rescue politics. Not only will they happily allow all the new rescues to take on these situations, they will most likely be laughing on the sidelines and shrug in that "I told you so manner" 
The good rescues they will take under their wing, and nurture like their own children, because at this point, they have a wealth of information that anyone should be lucky to gain, they want to mentor, they want to help usher forth the next generation of GOOD rescues because in all honesty, they are ready to get out of the game.
Yes, it is also the "Why You NO Take My Dogs!?" stage.
No really, please, adopt all these animals!
This also leads to "You think you can do better? Here! Take my dogs. No, Really, Take them! Seriously, no adoption fee, just here!" 
"Why are you Running Away!!!????"
"I thought you wanted to Save Them All!?"
"Come back and Take my dogs!!"

Stage Four Rescues have mastered the ability to say NO

No to shelters
No to other rescues
No to owner surrenders and
No to all caps postings about urgent dogs in every state
If they take in an animal, don't fool yourself into thinking they will take in another one next time you ask. 

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