Most people in this country know our traditional animal sheltering system was started with the best of intentions. The mission was to save animals’ lives through rescue, medical care, and adoption. Somewhere along the line, that mission got lost, and our shelters turned into warehouses for animals that are held for a period of time and then euthanized. Few animals today get through the archaic system and into loving homes.
We, as humans, can do better. We can create a safety net of services to rescue, sterilize, rehabilitate, and adopt out the animals that need our help, so no creature is left behind to receive a lethal injection, unless they are extremely sick and in pain. And even in these cases, the animals deserve love, respect, and the chance to be cradled in our arms when they are euthanized.
For me, it all started with a dog named Nugget.
I was taking a tour of a shelter with another rescue organization, and there was this little, old, skinny dog (he looked like an opossum) barely moving in the back kennel, awaiting death. The shelter said he had one more day. I decided then and there that I would take him to spend the remainder of his old life with me and my animal family. I would love him and do everything I could to stop the pain and provide him with dignity for his last days.
Nugget was given two weeks to live, but with the amazing help of local veterinarians, Dr. Pearson & Dra Rebeca Serrano, he lived for another seven months. He beat the odds, lived longer, loved longer, and played longer because he received love, care, and respect.
He changed my life and I am in awe of this golden Nugget’s strength. I miss him every day and work in honor of his memory.
In 2013 I had the opportunity to take over / restart Animal Synergy, and to work with shelters to save the geriatric, the broken, those with missing limbs, eyes & pretty horrible medical conditions. This is the sector of the animals in shelters that everyone tends to ignore, as they are not considered “adoptable.” Initially, I was told it was “too hard, or would cost too much, and that I should wait.” (Wait for what?, I thought. I need to do it and I need to do it now.) I knew I had to change the status quo. I had to open people’s eyes and hearts and homes to these beautiful animals that have so much to teach us. Our organization is proof that you do not need a fancy office or a ton of money. All you need is LOVE & DETERMINATION…AND MORE LOVE, because that is what saves and changes lives. And keep your friends and family close as they will make you laugh when you want to cry and support you when you question what you are doing. They will share the moments that change you and they will love you.
What I’m most proud of . . . 22 lives changed
It took a lot of work, a lot of help from kind people, and a lot of determination to start Animal Synergy. I had to learn how to work with shelters, the public, the non-profit world (which I am still figuring out) and other rescue organizations to save the animals. I had to figure out a strategy that was unique and appealing to people to open their hearts to these animals. We overcame the odds and accomplished exactly what everyone had told me was impossible! Twenty-two animals lives were changed in 2013! Here are a few of their stories.
1. Elvis – A Story of Triumph (videos of him at Tsavo’s located on our FB page)
We rescued this precious Dachshund nugget from animal control a few months ago. He could not use his back legs or control his bowels, but there was a flicker of light in his eyes and we knew he wanted to live. No matter what his future held, we knew we would provide him with love, medical care, and support to heal his broken body and spirit. With the amazing help of Tsavo's Canine Rehabilitation & Fitness Center, Inc. (who graciously donated rehabilitation services to Synergy), along with many hours of hugs and snuggles, Elvis is not only walking, but he is thriving in his new forever home.
2. Why is Tinkerbell Smiling? (Tink was rescued from animal control a few months ago, scared and broken. She was loved, rehabilitated, and recently road tripped to her new forever home in Oregon, where her family loves her so much, they carry her around in a baby sling.)
Tinkerbell is smiling because she is living the life she was meant to live. She is living this life because we worked together, and because we showed love and compassion and took action on her behalf. She is smiling because the world really is a beautiful and magnificent place. She is smiling because we never saw her as old or different or too much of a challenge. She is smiling because when we look past differences, stop placing blame, and simply love, act, and do the right thing, everything has the potential to fall into place. Hard work does pay off! Tinkerbell is smiling because Animal Services and Synergy came together to do what is right. It really can be that simple and that magical. NEVER GIVE UP. There are really amazing humans on this planet, in rescues, at animal services, and all around you. Find them. Do not get discouraged (I know it is hard), team up with good people, and make some magic!
What inspires me . . .
Each being inspires me in some way. I am encouraged by each and every person who donates a blanket, has a kind word, makes a charitable contribution, offers to transport an animal, helps us with brainstorming & thinking outside the box, shares their experiences…the list goes on and on because so many humans out there are fantastic. All of this means the general public does care about these animals. Perhaps people simply weren’t aware of the plight of these animals, or didn’t want to admit to themselves that animals do not make it out of the system. If the shelters were made of glass, the systematic euthanasia of animals would stop tomorrow. Our hope is that Animal Synergy is a piece of that glass. We want to be the ones who tell everyone that dogs in wheelchairs are hilarious and full of love. When you see them speeding off, running into the blind dog, feeling free and happy just because they can wreak havoc and chase their friends like they used to, you know they are living life to the fullest.
I’m currently working on . . .
Animal Synergy now has an excellent working relationship with Animal Services and together, we are changing the system. It can be done in every community. We need to stop placing blame and instead work together with love and kindness to enrich our communities. Southern California is full of animal-loving, smart, caring people. It can be done here. I asked my community for help and they have responded with an outpouring of support. Our goal is to someday have an Animal Synergy in every community, and ensure all the shelters are made of glass.
My life has changed since I started Animal Synergy. I have seen others change, too. Once scared to foster a blind dog with a heart condition and extreme arthritis or an emaciated pit-bull with scoliosis and mange, foster parents now soar with confidence and love after seeing how these beautiful beings come back to life with their love, medical care, more love, time, and respect. There is no need to fear the unknown. It is meant to be embraced, it is meant to challenge us and make us better, make us braver, for the animals. And I have a sneaking suspicion that these animals really rescue us.