People often ask me why I chose to become involved in animal rescue. I think the question is valid, especially when you look at the diverse local list of charities. Each agency has its own unique need and every group depends on dedicated people to assist them with their mandates.
I did not choose animals because I thought it would be fun. Working with homeless pets can be exhausting, heartbreaking and rewarding at the same time. I chose animals (more specifically, domesticated pets) because I perceived them as forgotten. Add the fact that I was fed up with the news headlines highlighting animal negligence and abuse cases.
I began writing letters to different political parties and I reached out to various rescue groups. The rescue groups I contacted were very receptive and open to speaking with me.
I find rescue to be a group effort and people involved in rescue are a tight team. They lean on each other for emotional support, share foster families, offer words of wisdom when needed and sometimes just a shoulder to cry on. I have met some of the best quality people I know through advocacy work. I have met individuals who are dedicated, thoughtful and loving. I consider myself to be very fortunate to be able to call many of them true friends.
A respected businessman gave me the best advice many years ago I think anyone has ever given me. He said, “If you truly want to make a difference, you must get behind your cause 100 per cent. Pick your battles and do not shift from your core mandate.”
His words still ring true.
My focus for more than 20 years has been domesticated pets. My target has remained on responsible pet ownership and assisting homeless pets. I have been asked many times to join different charitable organizations, but I always respectfully decline. I worry if I shift focus away from animals, I will lose any momentum I have built within the local rescue community.
I plan to continue my endeavours for as long as I possibly can. I adore working closely with others involved in rescue and I know in my heart they too will continue to fight on behalf of our pets. Collectively, we have seen tougher laws put in place to protect animals and tougher sentences for abusers. Some animal abusers have been given lifetime bans from owning animals. That’s a step in the right direction, but there’s still more work to be done.
If you would like to assist homeless pets, please reach out to local rescues. They are always looking for individuals to join the crusade. You could help by becoming a foster parent, volunteering to transport foster pets to medical appointments, becoming a dog walker volunteer or cat cuddler, helping with fundraisers and many other areas. Any and all assistance is genuinely appreciated.
Please be kind to animals.
Tracy Jessiman is a pet portrait artist who lives in Halifax with her husband and their three pets. She is a volunteer with Animal Rescue Coalitions of Nova Scotia. She has been rescuing animals most of her life, but more intimately, animals rescued her.