18th February 2016
The world of animal rescue is emotive by it's very nature. Trust me, we see it first hand every day. We live this world 365 days of the year with no breaks, no holidays, no let-up. We are on call 24 hours a day for emergencies. Even when we are not working with the animals we are in the office, networking across the country, researching, reading, fundraising. The work never stops.
This is not our hobby, it is our life.
We know the emotions all too well when an animal we have fought to save dies in our arms. We see the fear and the heartache when a battered spouse fleeing their abusive partner has to sign over their distraught child’s sick pet because they can barely afford food for the table, never mind vets bills. We feel the shock and guilt when a loving owner learns that the reason their pet isn't thriving is down their them acting on the terrible advice they were given when acquiring their adored little friend. We feel the unbearable sadness of a family that has lost a child who in their grief cannot cope with a pet regretfully bought to fill the hole in their hearts.
These heartrending scenarios and countless others have played out in front of our very eyes. And, we feel every heartbeat and every tear shed. Grace’s Rest is about more than just helping animals, we are here for people too.
On the whole here at Grace’s Rest we are blessed to assist worried but genuinely caring clients with their animals. These people really do love their pets, only wanting the best for them, but for whatever reason they can no longer care for them. This has even been true in some cases of neglect through ignorance whereby an owner has been given the most horrendously incorrect guidance (if any) often from those in a position of responsibility who really ought to have known better.
It can't always be like this though. As in any walk of life sometimes we come across distressed, angry and, rarely, just downright rude people. When this happens we have bore brunt of their upset and frustrations in the form of verbal abuse and threatening behaviour.
One such incident involved the rescue of three critically ill animals from a single source. Despite being rushed to the vet one didn't make it and died before arrival. Another was immediately euthanized due to irreversible paralysis and irreparable damage to internal organs. Thankfully the remaining critter was thought to have a chance and survived following eight-weeks of incentive care. We are proud to say that the little fighter is now living an awesome life in a new home. However, there was someone who was not thrilled at this: former owner. This person subjected us to terrible verbal abuse for a sustained period, it took the threat of legal action to make it cease. Two of these sorry creatures suffered and died due to the wilful neglect and abject cruelty inflicted upon them by their former owner... yet they saw us as the ones in the wrong for all the hard wok and fundraised money spent to save the only one with any chance at life.
From time to time (and increasingly in recent times) we are contacted by a concerned member of the public after they have seen a classified advert for an animal. Generally speaking the worry comes from either the accompanying photo/description seemingly illustrating a distressed or sick animal or the animal being offer way below it's perceived value, possibly even “free to good home”. In these instances we are duty bound to look into the advert and see if assistance is required for the benefit of the animal/s and for the peace of mind of the kind person that brought it to our attention. Sometimes our offer of assistance is met with enthusiastic gratitude, the owner is relieved that they have found someone to take on what they are no longer able to cope with. Other times we are met by indifference; the attitude of “pay up or push off” is common here with the money having more value than the animals well being. Then we have the final category who instead choose a tirade of abuse over civil conversation. This too has played out recently in the case of one animal being given away for free and another for a token payment. Come on guys and girls, don't we all know by now that offering an animal for free (or as near as) is a bad idea?! These angry responses often come with a “don't you think I can vet people myself” line. Newsflash, people lie! If they want something and consequences be damned then come hell or high water they will do anything underhanded to get it! By offering an animal for free it's like laying down the welcome mat for every pet pedlar, animal hoarder and backdoor breeder in the land. Yes, I know that by asking a price it won't stop these people completely but it certainly does put some of the worst off. FYI, in our vetting process we get to know our prospective adopters and vet them as thoroughly as possible before handing an animal over. We do a home-check, stay in contact and offer lifetime after-care. We liaise with the powers that be regarding serial rehomers in an attempt to end the vicious cycle of a constant supply of unwanted animals being passed from one owner to the next. Essentially we do everything within our power to ensure that every animal is placed correctly. Now you can't honestly tell me that when an advert reads something along the lines of “free to good home, need rid asap,” that the seller is going to do anywhere near as much to ensure their pet’s long term wellbeing.
Perhaps the next time any of these angry folk feel the need to release their wrath on us they ought to consider the following:
1.) We are here to help you and we mean no offence to yourself or anybody else in the way we work. If we are contacting you in response to an advert it is because a concerned, kind, person has brought it to our attention in the hopes that we may be able to help that animal (and potentially you). Be grateful that a complete stranger was conscientious enough to think outside the box for a way to help and contacted us. We never mean any offence in contacting anyone; we are here to offer advice and direct assistance where necessary.
2.) If you are upset by the outcome of an animal admitted to us we are more than willing to discuss it. Grace’s Rest aims to be as transparent as possible in it's practices and we have nothing to hide. When an animal is euthanized it is always on the advice of a qualified and suitably skilled veterinary surgeon. These life or death decisions are never taken lightly with euthanasia only being performed when an animal is suffering and recovery is extremely unlikely and/or there are no other options. At these times it is the only humane thing to do.
3.) Please remember that everything we do here is with the animal’s best interests at heart. Think of it this way, we are a non-profit endeavour; unlike profit seeking enterprises such as pet shops, mobile zoos and breeders we have nothing to gain in a financial sense from what we do. There are no paid staff (even me and I'm the boss!) and only the smallest personal expenses are covered and only then if it can be spared. The animals always come first. It is only our continuous fundraising efforts and the generous donations of our supporters that keep things running
4.) A pre-emptive offer to help your animal is a HUGE gift. Normally we are inundated with creatures and struggle to fit new admissions in. When you are contacted by us at the prompting of a concerned, animal-loving, member of the public we are most certainly not looking for an ear-full of grief. Trust me, we will have already been planning what we'll have to do if you take up the offer. The proverbial precursory wheels will already be set in motion just in case. Those first contacts (and all communications for that matter) are always conducted politely, we would be ever so grateful if you could do the same.
5.) If you decide to cause a fuss at one of our fundraisers please remember that these are family events and that little ears are often present. We're not offended by swearing and the security guy won’t care either as he slings you out but there is no need to use disgusting aggressive language in front of little kiddies.
Here’s to the good times, the bad times and to the millions of possibilities in between.
Catch you next time!
Supported by Ladbrook Insurance, a specialist animal charity insurance provider.
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Meet the Owner-Operator, Clare Barnard BSc.(Hons)
Clare is a research scientist and PhD candidate at the University of Lincoln where she is studying wildlife conservation and the direct impact of the exotic pet trade on wild animal populations. She will be working from the Laboratory of Evolutionary Ecology of Adaptations. Clare has also been honoured to become part of the Global Amphibian Biodiversity research team.
Clare has almost 20 years professional experience in the husbandry of exotic animals a specialism in the genetics of British herpetofauna. She has worked with wild Adders (Vipera berus) and endangered Natterjack Toads (Epidalea calamita) under Natural England license conditions. Clare has worked as a zookeeper and within private collections including her own. She lives in rural North Warwickshire, on-site at Grace's Rest, with a whole host of animals!