You can tell when an animal has been hit or kicked. They respond to a human approach by cringing and attacking or cringing and running. Sometimes, they do both. It is heartbreaking. It is even more heartbreaking when you know there is little you can do.
Sometimes, though you get to make a difference. This weekend was one of them. And it made me realise how many brave and sincere people surround me. After two years spent with mostly people who don’t know who they are, never mind how to put their beliefs into any sort of positive action, I have found myself surrounded with the opposite – intrepid, clever people who aren’t afraid of saying and meaning – “This is who I am, stuff ya if you don’t like it” and who will work hard to do what they believe is right.
Due to the nature of this rescue and the fact that it is an ongoing operation, some details and all names have been changed but the actions undertaken this weekend are represented honestly.
We started planning this rescue some time ago. Not a normal rescue by any means, this one went wrong several times, took a lot of persuasion, eventually required someone to go in “under cover” and finally, when it all went wrong, we had to rely on someone who, whilst they care for animals, is not as crazy at the rest of us.
For various reasons, we couldn’t just call the RSPCA or another traditional rescue organisation in. Some of the reasons included the fact that we have completely lost faith in them, that they would simply take the animals away and the problem would raise itself again later on, with our contact lost and finally, most of the animals are traumatised and have been for some time and so they cannot be re-homed easily.
Some are so frightened they don’t come out at all, others are violent and vicious. We are aware that many of the larger animal rescue organisations put hard-to-home animals down and we felt these animals needed a chance at a decent life rather than more trauma, a cage and then death. The animals were not only being abused but were also housed in fairly cruddy conditions, mostly out of ignorance and stupidity.
We had to persuade the owners to start selling them to us, as pets. Firstly, this involved the undercover person going in and befriending the owners. He did this, even though it meant he cried buckets every night over the state of the animals. He also had to start getting close to the animals and gain their trust so that (a) we could take them out with no additional trauma and (b) that we actually could re-home them, albeit with very sensitive and loving owners. Then we had to get someone unknown to go the owners and pose as a prospective buyer. All went smoothly up until the day of the “buy”.
The day of the buy ended up a complete farce for a number of reasons and we were let down badly. In a panic, I asked a very good friend of mine to go in anyway. This she did. Not only did she go in at very short notice, but she pulled it off with aplomb. She got back to my house with a very frightened, very hostile animal in a huge basket. The animal went into my spare room and we then rang the rescue centre who were going to take him.
The undercover person and I stood at the top of my stairs and just held each other and cried from relief and happiness at having got one animal out. Moreover, it was the first of hopefully many which will now happen as a result.
I warned the undercover person that they would be upset at being parted from the animal and also that, now it was over they might feel very low. Both happened over the course of the day and we laughed at the personal anguish that rescues cost. However it is a price we would pay willingly. The animal we rescued this weekend, for the first time in his life, will know what it is liked to live in a loving environment, where hitting and kicking and shouting don’t abide. He will, for the first time in his life be able to live indoors or out as he chooses, will be able to feel grass under his feet and chase butterflies if he wants, will be fed proper food and have feline and human companions for play and comfort. He will be treated with love and respect whilst he learns to trust and live again. And for that, almost any transitory emotional price is worth the paying.
Of course, I completely ignored the fact that I would feel the same way and once the animal had been picked up, the rescuer off to his own home and I was alone, it hit me. I am sure I am not the only one who frets at the animals I have been unable to save, particularly in circumstances where we got so close and by some fluke, didn’t pull it off.
So I spent a mostly sleepless night, tossing and turning, trying to get the faces of the animals I’d failed to rescue out of my mind and hoping against hope they had made it to a better life or afterlife without me.
I was cheered slightly the next day to hear that not only had the animal we rescued started settling in nicely but that an animal I’d rescued and dearly wanted to keep but couldn’t (and the rescue home had taken a year previously) had settled down very well. He now shares his life between the rescue centre and a neighbour and has changed from a thin, ill frightened abused cat who feared humans intensely to a big, strapping beautiful long haired cat who swans about the place nonchalantly, actively enjoys cuddles, has got used to hands (which he hated – I used to cuddle him with my toes) and is a very happy cat indeed.
So here’s to my heroes who made this one possible … ME, RS, SM, you know who you are. Thank you. And here’s to that beautiful animal … may he live a long, happy, healthy life and know that he is loved.