I’ve been wanting to start this for months, but there hasn’t been a moment until now that that’s felt possible.
It’s not only that I need the time to be able to write, but my brain needs to be in a certain place.
So Hello! and welcome to Animals Of Our World’s blog.
Let’s talk. Well, I’ll talk for now and you read.
Being the co-founder of a rescue organization/charity and sanctuary, means I never run out of things to do nor think about. It also means that my brain is wired in a particular way that allows me to do this job.
I always knew I wouldn’t be living a ‘normal’ life but I never knew it would be this. This is “the dream job” for every visitor to the sanctuary, but “a living nightmare” for every sanctuary owner ever.
Let me explain, so you can really try to understand.
There’s a reason we get called crazy animal ladies/lovers. You’ve got to be half crazy to even open a sanctuary, let alone once you’re deep in the thick of it.
If you weren’t crazy to begin with, you sure are now. It sounds like a dream to be surrounded by animals all day and I will say that it is one of the huge perks of the job. The reality is that those animals have needs and if they’re not met, you will be surrounded by unhealthy, unhappy and distressed animals.
When you think of sanctuary workers, do you think of cuddling cute kittens and puppies all day?
The reality is not as it may seem. The House Of Strays team is working non-stop cleaning area after area, feeding, medicating and ensuring everybody gets what they need in their day.
Most evenings are spent panicking about veterinary debts, crying and feeling overwhelmed about the next bills creeping up. Becoming a professional beggar for life-saving treatment. Trying to justify why we desperately need to raise this money.
Stepping in and taking responsibility for animals who we were begged to help by people in the community, and then for them to not give any financial help towards their care and never hear from them again.
Traumatized from the piercing barks and meows of animals getting out of cages and into dangerous and deadly situations.
Staying up all night comforting a dying kitten as they have a seizure with no vet open to see them.
Waking every two hours to bottle feed orphan puppies knowing you have a full day’s work ahead regardless.
Checking on the animals throughout the night to reassure yourself, because you heard an unusual and worrying sound.
Finding animals dumped at the sanctuary front gate of the sanctuary or animals thrown over the wall of the sanctuary (yes, it’s a true story).
Making decisions that could change or end an animal’s life.
Knowing the organisation doesn’t have the money to save every animal you’ve seen suffering, but knowing if we had more funds we could get to more.
Feeling overworked and overwhelmed and still sitting down at the end of each day knowing you’ve got so much to do and feeling behind.
Constantly in fear of an outbreak or one of the animals at the sanctuary falling ill. Witnessing an unhealthy amount of death every week/month/year.
Living petrified knowing that the organisation may never get the support it needs, and our biggest mission may never become a reality.
Does that sound like a dream or does that sound like a nightmare?
My family is the real reason why Animals Of Our World and House Of Strays are still alive today. Why do hundreds of animals still receive what they need, every single day?
Support is the only way a sanctuary founder and worker like me, can physically do this job. I wish it wasn’t and we did not have to rely on donations. I wish I had the magic powers to extend the day and my energy to bring in enough money to not have to scrape together the sanctuary bills each month.
The truth is that once you’re in, you’re in for life. Unless you’re a sanctuary founder, sanctuary manager, or live on-site in the chaos of it all, you couldn’t understand what this feels like. I couldn’t get up and leave tomorrow, even if I wanted to.
Every animal that lives on-site at House of Strays Sanctuary depends on me. I have a huge amount of responsibility. Running a sanctuary is a 24-hour job. It doesn’t matter about the plans you make, the animals and the sanctuary are priorities. Animals first, always.
Most of my friends will know that any plan I make, I will be late or potentially cancel. Emergencies do not work around me.
Then when it comes to actually going out, your mind wants to escape the stress and anxiety of whatever has happened that day. It’s not unusual for shelter workers/sanctuary founders to find an outlet by excessively drinking alcohol.
Do I judge them? No. How could I judge someone when I see how easy it is to get there? Love them or hate them…
Talk about them or judge them… Sanctuary founders and workers are doing essential work that is f#cking hard.
This is work that everybody wants to see being done but doesn’t want or can’t do to themselves. Bear in mind that a percentage of animals brought to shelters and sanctuaries were once somebody else’s responsibility…
Shelter owners/founders do not run when the going gets tough. We should all have access to competent staff and reliable funding to not completely lose our sanity.
That’s the dream, right?
Many founders run the whole sanctuaries by themselves. Money to pay the salaries of workers is money that could go towards the animals’ bills.
Volunteers/workers who are not trained or skilled in this line of work can make mistakes that can cause chaos and fatalities.
Most founders I know are doing this work alone and are trying desperately to grow whilst drowning. I am doing everything I can to not be in that position ever again because I can speak on behalf of all of us when I say…
It’s a sad, lonely and miserable existence. We cannot physically be great at every part of this job because ultimately it takes a whole army of people to run to thrive, but unfortunately, we often have to learn quickly to be a one-man army.