By Audrey Lodato, Adoption Center Manager
Leading a team of animal welfare employees is extremely rewarding. My role as the Adoption Center Manager at Brother Wolf involves lots of staff development. It’s one of my favorite parts of my job. However, there is no animal rescue school; you both learn and teach in animal welfare by your experiences. My job is to figure out how to get new rescuers involved in the things they are most passionate about and turn them into experts that save lives efficiently. There are some fundamentals that they need to learn first and foremost. Prince once said “Compassion is an action word with no boundaries”. I try to teach this above all.
I’ve served in a few roles in my career in animal welfare, but the organization that shaped my beliefs and taught me how to be a rescuer is a no-kill cat sanctuary in upstate New York called Mid Hudson Animal Aid. I worked there for almost seven years as Shelter Manager, and during that time I like to think that I encountered and problem solved my way through most of what a rescuer needs to learn. Since this was a small no kill shelter with an extremely limited staff, much of my time was spent hands on with the cats. My daily routine involved everything and anything; Cleaning a free-roaming room, completing animal intakes, speaking to veterinarians and creating treatment plans, hiring, payroll, shopping for supplies…if it happens in a shelter, I probably did it or made sure it happened. I also did my fair share of work out in the field, performing actual rescues.
The county animal control in that area did not rescue stray cats, they referred people to us. Someone would then call the shelter and give us some information on a situation where a cat was in distress or danger. If they couldn’t get the cat to us themselves with some guidance, we would go and get the cat. We even had “go kits” in our cars. Over the seven years that I worked at MHAA, I personally retrieved no less than 200 animals from every conceivable situation.
What doing this work taught me was fundamentally influential in establishing my beliefs as a rescuer. I learned that we were often their only chance for survival. If we didn’t go get them, they didn’t get saved. I learned that it doesn’t matter if it is a blizzard, or three in the morning, or dangerous…you go get them. You go because they are also cold, and scared, or in danger. It didn’t matter what the situation was. It was essential that you figure it out. Cat 100 feet up a tree? Climb it. In a sewer? Guess I’m crawling in a pipe. In a swimming pool between the liner and the wall? Get in. Highway median? Stop traffic. You get them and you help them because it’s what a rescuer does.
When I think about that time in my life, what I remember most is the many times I was driving to the vet with an injured animal in my car, stuck at a red light and praying so hard that they would hang on just a little bit longer. And that is what rescue is to me. You do what you have to do to save their lives and you invest a great deal of yourself in the process. Whether you are working to save a cat in a tree or create an entire no kill community, many of the principles of animal rescue remain the same. Do what is necessary to get it done. Figure it out, no matter what. Be brave. Be creative. Do not back down. Do not give up.
At Brother Wolf, our staff figures it out every day. Lamb born with no front legs? Get him wheelchair. Natural disaster? Let’s deploy a team. 200 rabbits coming in from an overloaded barn? Time to establish some rabbit care protocols – quick. My role is not so much about figuring it out for myself any longer, but teaching others what figuring it out means. Once they are taught that anything that is necessary is possible everything else falls into place.
HERE ARE 3 EASY WAYS TO HELP ACHIEVE OUR
DONATE – Monthly donors help keep us best prepared year-round for animal rescue. With your help, we can continue to save and care for the animals who need us most. Recurring donations provide a consistent, reliable revenue stream, allowing us to focus more resources on our lifesaving programs, and less on fundraising. For our 10 year anniversary, help us grow our circle of compassion by welcoming 1,000 new members! Click here to join the Compassionate Circle today!
VOLUNTEER or FOSTER – Volunteers and fosters are Brother Wolf’s backbone. Do you have an hour to walk dogs or fold laundry? Do you want to learn to trap feral cats with our Community Cat Program? Are you a social butterfly who can help at one of our weekly adoption events? Do you have space in your home and heart for a temporary foster animal? Click here to learn more about volunteering and fostering!
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