Animal rescue work is hard.  Extremely hard. It pulls on your emotions, affects your mood, and impacts your relationships. We can proudly say that every single person involved in this organization has a huge heart and a love for animals.  If they didn’t possess those traits, they wouldn’t be doing this.  This post is intended to shed some light on the darker aspects that come with animal rescue — the heartache, the daily grind, the stress, and the irresponsible people that don’t make this job easy for us.

We long to live in a world where the people behind the animal can stand up and take responsibility.  No animal wants to be abused, to be abandoned, or to spend its life in a cage, but, unfortunately, there are people who make those decisions on all-too-many animals’ behalf. Although we try to stay focused on improving quality of life for these animals as opposed to the factors that brought them to us, we are not so naïve to believe people aren’t to blame for many animals’ suffering.

We know we volunteered for a tough job, but we are driven by the question: “If we don’t do it, who will?”  Most of the time, the real story of how we came into the care of an animal never gets talked about extensively or even mentioned by our media outlets.  We’re not here for drama; we’re here for the animals, but the time has come where we think we need to be extremely transparent about some of the situations we’re placed in when it comes to the care of an animal.  We work closely with different rescues across the state and country, we have professional relationships with law enforcement far and wide, and we always rise to the challenge.  Because, again, if we don’t, who will?

This post is a look at some of the atrocities we face as a rescue.  This isn’t to generate sympathy or gain followers.  This post is meant to create an awareness of what goes on that no one talks about.  The more we can raise awareness, the better chance we have for change.  The state of North Dakota is working on positive changes for animal rights and wellbeing, but without public support, those changes can’t happen.  Most of our supporters have already heard of the large-scale stories that the news channels picked up, so those won’t be discussed here.  The following are a few (of the many and many) situations where we’ve been called upon to help animals in need.  We have removed all personally identifiable information, but remember, these are real life stories.  The following stories are potentially disturbing and contain upsetting content.

– J.J. (now known as Wicket), a black male cat, was found in South Dakota by a friend of a volunteer.  He was zip tied to a light pole in the dead of winter.  He had open wounds on his arms, legs, and neck (from being tied to the pole) and bloody, frozen ears, but maintained his loving personality, despite the heartless acts that he was subjected to. He will have teddy bear ears (from the frost bite) and a permanent bald ring around his neck (from being tied to the post) for the remainder of his life.  Today, he is living a happy life in his forever home where he is extremely affectionate to his owner.

– One evening, our volunteers received a phone call from two individuals who were trying to get intoxicated enough to shoot the dog tied to the vehicle.  They instructed our volunteers to come get the dog before they shoot it.  Within minutes our volunteers were assisting in the rescue of the dog, now known as Beckham, who is a beautiful Dalmatian cross.  While Beckham did not receive any known physical abuse, the entirety of the situation is unnerving enough to share.  Beckham is now living a happy life with his forever family.

– A local pet store called us right around closing time during the cold winter.  There was a dachshund dog left tied up in the bathroom!  Here’s the strange part: two weeks later the same thing happened with another dachshund in the same pet store.  Both of the dogs have since found their forever homes through our adoption system.

– We recently got called into a case of severe animal abuse for a second opinion.  This was probably one of the worse cases we’ve seen thus far.  The dog was beaten so badly that all of her legs were broken and she was pulling herself around by her face.  She was euthanized because it was the most humane thing to do in that situation, based on the multitude of veterinarian opinions that worked with the case.

– Mula, a well-mannered and healthy cat in her foster home, was returned to us after she was adopted because we were told she bit a child in the home.  However, Mula was returned to us with a broken tail.  The adopters alleged that she didn’t have a broken tail under their care.  Mula has since undergone surgery to repair her broken tail.

How to get involved: The easiest and best way to make change is the ongoing conversations you can have with your city commissioners and state legislators.  They are not aware of what is happening with animal welfare, beyond what the agriculture community tells them.  The policy makers are not deliberately ignoring the animal cruelty, they are just not aware of what is happening.  Developing a positive relationship with the city commission or legislators will help during the 2019 legislation session when animal cruelty laws are up for vote.  Also consider attending events hosted by the North Dakota Humane Society of United States, city commission meetings, interim legislation meetings, and North Dakota State Board of Animal Health meetings.

We could go on and on about the atrocities that we have encountered from being in this business.  We know it’s not for the faint of heart and it takes a team to make sure each and every animal is safe.  We have dealt with countless animals dumped on the roadside, left behind after a family moved, excuses after excuses, obvious lack of owner care and love for the animal, and heartfelt goodbyes during the last breath of life.  We would do it all again in a heartbeat if we knew it was for the wellbeing of our furry friends.  We encourage everyone who has a love of animals to become advocates for their rights.  North Dakota needs people like you to stand up for your beloved pets, because after all, they are part of your family.