Today, @tarc posted about an emergent need for funding to get six dogs on transport to New England. I understand that for most people, the urgency of this and the reason for doing it seems dubious. Why don’t we just adopt them out locally? Those who follow my rescue’s blog know that here in Central Appalachia, the ratio of unwanted pet to available home is roughly 26:1. The only other option is to kill them, which local municipal shelters do wholesale. @tarc tries to save as many as we can.
I really do get it, that rescue under these conditions is a completely revenue-negative enterprise. There’s simply no way to recover the money we invest in these helpless animals. This makes bad optics for investors, who would only donate if some palpable benefit existed for them. We’re tax-exempt in the US, a designated 501c3, but that doesn’t help people outside our borders. Often the people who have money to help won’t, because there is zero benefit in it for them.
So the dogs at local shelters continue to die by the thousands every year. Tarc continues to drown in unwanted animals. I currently have 46 dogs living inside my house. Yes, as a state-reporting home-based rescue agency I’m set up for this. No. It’s not easy or fun. My health is suffering. I’m flat broke because every dime I make goes into this rescue. I have a fantastic plan for solving the problem in this region permanently, but there are no funds available to do so. So we just keep treading water. Or, more accurately, we keep shoveling snow in a blizzard.
The Great Grant Hoax
“Apply for grants,” some say. If only I had a dime for every grant application I’ve submitted….
Here’s the problem: rescues rarely qualify for grant money these days. It all goes to brick-and-mortar shelters. Groups who do grant money to rescues set absolutely ridiculous parameters that knock small operations like mine completely out of the running. See the screenshot below.
The Rachel Ray grant through Best Friends No More Homeless Pets sounds fantastic, right? Oh, wow! I could get up to $50,000 to spay and neuter community animals! WRONG. I only qualify to receive 10% of our yearly operating budget, which is damn tiny because we have no consistent support from the community we’re trying to help. Ten percent of $9,600 (our yearly budget) is $960. That would spay or neuter exactly nine animals. Helpful, yes…but to put it into context, it wouldn’t even cover the cost of the current transport that we’re trying to raise money to fund.
I’ve run into walls like this over and over since starting the rescue. Consider the email I received last year from Two Mauds, a grantmaker specializing in spay/neuter programs: “I wanted to follow up with you that Two Mauds was not able to fund your organization. We had our highest number of requests this year so the competition was strong. I recognize that your part of the state is of highest need, but we will only fund programs that are already established.”
Okay—what kind of bullshit is that? “We know you have a huge problem there but you’re on your own until you fix the problem yourself.” Seriously?
I’m at my wits end. I really am. I’ve given my whole life to helping these dogs. I’ve lived in this house we bought for the rescue for five years, three of which we’ve had no indoor plumbing other than a hose and one faucet. I make do. There’s barely any heat for winter, and although we did get some wiring done to run a space heater, the whole house will need to be completely rewired before we can install anything better. I have no washer or dryer on the premises. I’ve basically been camping with the dogs I save since 2014. Nearly every week, some new jackass pulls into my driveway wanting to “donate” even more dogs. Evidently they think I need them.
The animal welfare situation local to me is downright absurd. I’ve posted about this many times, so I won’t go into it again. Let’s just put it this way: ordinarily, people think that shelters employ animal lovers with certain animal-related skills. Not when it comes to high kill shelters. No animal lover can stand being there under those gruesome circumstances. Have you ever witnessed euthanasia day? It’s horrid. Who can work in those conditions? Well, guess what—the people who can do it are typically the people who care the least. The ones who can’t hold a job anywhere else. This is not a hard and fast rule, but you can believe it’s situation normal. As a result, the care animals receive in most high kill shelters is deplorable. Want a glimpse into this appalling world? Read a document compiled about a shelter in the county adjacent to me. We’re all tempted to say, “Somebody should do something about that!” Well, I’m “somebody.” Sadly, I’m very much alone.
The Realities of Kill Sheltering
The photos below are tough to take. But please look at them. Once you’ve seen what I see far too often, you probably will no longer wonder why I do what I do.
Nope. They’re not sleeping.
Nope. It ain’t household garbage up to the bedrails of that truck.
It’s Not Like There isn’t a Damn Solution
My third novel, soon to be released by Steemhouse Publishing, is based on the horrific data in that report linked above. “High Kill” is not a story about animal abuse. It’s a story about human-on-human murder and violence. But how it all connects is a reality that more and more psychologists and law enforcement agencies are starting to acknowledge. Exposure to the gruesome world of animal sheltering is a daily work hazard for me. And it’s such a thankless job. I’d be fine with that, if only we could consistently raise enough money to do something about the problem. I know exactly how to solve this. I just need help.