Angels of Assisi & Harmony Farm Sanctuary: Rescue Stories
We've got ourselves a new project; she's wrapped up in mischief, horns, and curling ears, and her name is Lily.
A few months ago, she was attacked by another animal, and lost 2 of her legs- that's where the project part comes in. The missing limbs are on the same side, front and back, and that's where the big challenge arises.
She's at Angels of Assisi now, and will make her way to Harmony Farm Sanctuary this weekend, where an accommodating stall awaits her. Meanwhile, we are assessing her needs and working on a plan, one that won't be easy, but certainly worth the effort. Welcome to the family Lily- you're going to make our lives a lot more interesting, and we can't wait to get started.
Courage and perseverance have a magical talisman,
before which difficulties disappear and obstacles vanish into air.
— John Quincy Adams
Tava came to us as part of a rescue that involved bunches of stout, loud little dogs. She was the odd one in the group, tall and silent. Upon arrival she had pressed herself so far into the back of the travel crate that she was almost flat, and we had to take it apart to get to her. She put up quite a fight after being exposed to humans, and for about a week we had to let her be, with the exception of meal times and cleaning.
After that, baby steps- being moved from the clinic to the quieter of our dog runs, an introduction to the leash, and in time the play yard. A few days ago we had a major victory- she will now trot up to staff, smiling, give us a few licks on the hand (no more than three), and then retreat. Each Tava smile deepens our fondness for her, and we're patiently waiting for her transformation into a more adjusted dog.
Today she had a special visitor to help her in that journey. Gregor came, loaded down with books. She pressed herself into the floor of her run, and he read out loud to her, steady and strong, and going along as if her trembling body was business as usual. Nothing to see here.
Halfway through his first book, Gregor looked up, smiled, and softly announced that she had stopped shaking. He continued to read aloud to her, and while she did not move, her body relaxed. And for today, that is enough.
To all who come and contribute to the well being of the pets at Angels of Assisi, you continue to amaze and inspire us, thank you for a job well done.
That perfect tranquility of life, which is nowhere to be found but in retreat,
a faithful friend and a library. — Aphra Behn
Since January of 2011, we have transferred 2185 animals from the RCACP to Angels of Assisi. Number 2186 arrived yesterday. We've been doing this a long time now, and while receiving animals from RCACP is very different than it used to be, in some ways it is still very much the same.
Gone are the days when we would happen upon a convulsing dog, transfer her emergently to Angels of Assisi, discover she had a 107+ fever, pack her in ice, and rush her to Virginia Tech for medical care. Back then she was not treated at RCACP because there was not "diagnostic equipment" - a thermometer- that the overseeing leadership was willing to utilize.
The difference now is that animals are transferred to us after receiving medical care, medicines, and often times even spayed or neutered. They are combo tested and rabies vaccinated- not mandated by any law, but as a much appreciated courtesy to partnering rescues. RCACP has the animals prepped and ready to go at a moments notice, and it's not unusual for the staff to deliver them right to our adoption center. The dogs and cats have had interaction with volunteers, pretty pictures taken, and are given the opportunity to go to events and day outings. What a change from the era of no volunteers, adoptions, or allowing animals out of building.
The similarities of days past is in the animals themselves, like number 2186 we pulled yesterday.
He arrived to RCACP via animal control, and his name was Stupid.
He's not the first elderly, neglected, filthy dog that has crossed the doorstep of RCACP, and then on to us. I've seen the hollowed, cloudy eyes many times before, some staring at the walls, and some making a connection into mine, and each is equally haunting. The long curled toenails clacking the floors are not a novel sound, but fortunately neither is the ever so cautious tail wag as they follow us blindly and trustingly to their new digs at Angels of Assisi, and then on to a new home.
The histories and conditions of the homeless animals in our community are so similar: mange, no basic house manners, little to no preventative care, poor skin, and matted and overgrown coats. However, the stats show these numbers are decreasing. We're working hard at Angels of Assisi to offer affordable preventative and sick pet care; one look into our lobby will show you that it's well received. As we work on these preventative measures, RCACP and the municipalities are working on taking care of the animals who fall through the cracks, and together we're working on getting them adopted.
RCACP gave our new guy a new name, because he's not Stupid. He now goes by Zeke, derived from the Hebrew yehezq'ēl, meaning God strengthens.
As our progress and resolve have strengthened, so will Zeke. He's heading to a foster home very soon, where he won't be dirty and neglected anymore, and where his tail can wag with confidence.
A special thank you goes out to all who worked so hard from- Angels of Assisi pull number 1 to Angels of Assisi pull number 2186. It's been a joy to see the changes, and we resolve continue and combine our efforts to make this community a safe place for our animals. Welcome to your family, Zeke.
Scar tissue is stronger than regular tissue. Realize the strength, move on.
- Henry Rollins
The first quarter statistics are in from the Regional Center for Animal Care and Protection. Of the 818 animals that were brought to the pound, over 82% left alive, either by adoption or transfer to another rescue. We would like to see that number increase to 90- 95%, so while very proud of the improvements, there is still work to be done. And we're putting it in.
Of all the animals transferred to rescue, Angels of Assisi took over 42%, thank you to everyone who helped make it possible- great work!
We have made a conscience effort not to post "freedom ride" photos of animals leaving RCACP on their way to Angels of Assisi. The social media "freedom ride" blitzes tend to cause quite a competition between rescues and feed a lot of egos. WHO IS SAVING MORE? Today it is this rescue, tomorrow it is that rescue, and so this one needs to catch up, and on and on and on.
There is another important reason for the absence of the freedom ride posts - we do not feel the RCACP animals are automatically given a death sentence. Are we freedom-ing them from a qualified adoption center, where they have a great chance of finding a home after all of their veterinarian work has been provided for a very reasonable cost?
Posting freedom rides and declaring on social media that the rescue review animals "will die at 11 am!
" is not doing RCACP any favors, especially because that is not what rescue review means. It means that these animals "on review" need to go to rescue for various reasons, usually health or behavior. It's not meant to create chaos and an "I saved him saved minutes before death!!
" photo op.
We want RCACP to be viewed as a positive, adoption friendly facility; a place where families of all facets feel comfortable visiting. You know that little rush that surges through you when visiting an open and friendly adoption center or sanctuary, or anywhere you get to interact with animals in need? Especially with the possibility of taking one home? Let RCACP be one of those places, not one wrongly labeled as a death camp.
We are more optimistic than ever about the future for the homeless animals in our community, especially
since there are far less of them. Angels of Assisi has always wanted to see RCACP shine by offering adoptions, enlisting a caring staff, and having volunteers work their magic. That day is here, and we are are closer than ever to an adoption guarantee community. Now that, my friends, feels freeing.
If you work really hard, and you're kind, amazing things will happen.
― Conan O'Brien
It's been a heck of week weather-wise, and our intakes have increased with those needing shelter from the cold, including 5 cats living in a car, and a mama who had 7 kittens outside on one of the coldest nights of the year. By some miracle she managed to save 5 of them, and the little family is now safe and sound in a foster home.
Between handing out coats, food, beds and supplies to help people give their pets much needed inside time, we got a call to help this fellow. Circumstances as extreme as our current elements made coming inside not an option, and so he came to Angels of Assisi to find his shelter.
Right now he's all long legs and hip bones and improper house manners, but he is leaning quickly. Our hearts have easily been won over, and we're looking forward to this boy getting adopted and out of the cold once and forever.
Thank you to all for the donations that have been used to keep pets in their homes and that help us find new homes for those who need them most. As we work hard to protect the animals in our community, it is never forgotten that our community makes it all possible.
Last month, we were asked to help with several small dogs from a rural shelter. Space was tight, but we told the hopeful volunteer to bring 'em on up, and we would make room.
Accompanied by the shelter's animal control officer, she arrived a few days later, with precious cargo in tow. The precious cargo, however, had a few more heartbeats than we anticipated, including a lovely mutt named Isabelle. The animal control officer explained that he just had to take a chance that we would take her, as it would break his heart to put her down.
A dog that took up so much space in his his heart would simply have to fit in our building; paperwork was signed and a spot was created. Isabelle proved to be an easy keeper. Her whole butt tail wag and friendly ways quickly earned her a "staff and volunteer favorite" title.
Soon enough, the animal control officer's dream came true- she found herself a person. Isabelle gave us one last butt tail wag and stuck out her tongue before she marched on up the stairs and headed home. Her mom has reported that she is a perfect fit, and we are grateful to the officer who took a chance and loaded her in his truck, and to you, our supporters for making it possible to find the room.
With a lot of hard work over the past few years, the Live Release Rate (number of animals leaving our local pound alive) has improved tremendously. Along with a new name, the Regional Center for Animal CARE and Protection, they have made a lot of changes, with the most significant of those being that pretty blue section of the graph below: RCACP Adoptions. Dogs and cats, puppies and kittens, heading out the front door and into new families. Progress.
The rest of the graph shows how many animals were transferred from RCACP into area rescues, and here at Angels of Assisi we are thankful to the municipalities who fund the shelter for making the process smooth and easy; over 33% of the animals transferred from RCACP to rescues came to us.
We are even more pleased with the trend of pet adoptions in our community. See that upward green line? That shows the total number of adoptions in our area (with the exception of a few home-based rescues who do not have numbers posted yet, so that number may be even higher).
LAP: League for Animal Protection
FCHS: Franklin County Humane Society
RVSPCA: Roanoke Valley SPCA
RCACP: Regional Center for Animal Care and Protection
AOA: Angels of Assisi
Congratulations on a job well done. These stats show us that our community is embracing the concept of adoption, and we believe that you adopt your way to no kill. We're closer than ever to that goal, and are looking forward to an amazing 2015.
When you do what you love, the seemingly impossible becomes simply challenging, the laborious becomes purposeful resistance, the difficult loses its edge and is trampled by your progress.
— Steve Maraboli
Another large shipment of beautifully hand knit blankets arrived yesterday, a gift for the cats in our adoption center. They came in solid colors, in patterns, in primary colors, and in pastels. Each was pristinely handcrafted, and beautiful.
These donations are very special to us, and are completely given from the heart. You see, the lady who so painstakingly knits them suffers from Alzheimer's Disease. There are many things she can't remember anymore, but her hands have never forgotten how to handcraft gifts of love. And those who love her, bring them to us.
Our cats in the adoption center will each be going home with one of these precious gifts, and we know that their creator will feel the warmth our Angels of Assisi family is sending back to her.
When Marley came through the door at Angels of Assisi, it was impossible to tell his front from his back. Matted fur hung clump after clump to the floor, and his back legs were twice the size of normal because of the excessive hair wound tight around them. We had to pull back the hair stuck to his face to find his eyes, and the stench was overwhelming.
After sedation, Marley was painstakingly shaved down. Mats were entwined in his toes, ears, and globed all over his entire body. In the days afterwards, he did not know exactly how to feel, and it took him a minute to get his bearings. But with a little time, patience, and medications he did, and we were all delighted the first time he played with a toy. The transformation continued, and last weekend he got his very own family.
We wish you every happiness, little Marley Monster Dog. Thanks for being brave enough to overcome some pretty major obstacles, and know that you are safe now and forevermore.
We do not need magic to transform our world.
We carry all the power we need inside ourselves already.
— J.K. Rowling
A social media post from the Martinsville Henry County SPCA:
This is an offer to the person who left a box of 7 puppies on the SPCA doorstep this morning. Please let us help you with your momma dog. We will assist you in getting her spayed so you are not forced to make this decision again. No judgement. Your puppies are safe and sound and we are happy to rehome them. They are adorable!
Thank you for the kindness and compassion shown in your message to the person who left the puppies. The reassurance that the puppies will be safe was wonderful, and what a kind gesture it was to comment on how adorable they are.
I believe this message is a true testament to what a humane society, spca, rescue group should be- a safe haven to help with animals when the owners cannot. The reasons for this may vary, and I think we need to ask ourselves a few questions before we are quick to judge people, one being: how many paychecks away am I from not being able to pay for my bills, home, and ultimately pets?
Big props to the Martinsville Henry County Humane Society for making a tough situation easier for all involved. My guess is that mama dog will be in for spay, and even if she is not, you have taken down roadblocks and paved the path with kindness for others to get the help they need.
Last weekend we had the much anticipated volunteer party. A little bit of dancing, some good and wonderfully bad singing, and a surprise visit from foster dog Trooper added up to an amazing night. Before the party got too far off the ground, the Assisi staff gathered for a photo-op with Santa.
I love this photo because it is so symbolic of who we all are. It wasn't planned or posed, we all just fell into place for a cute little holiday snapshot, but how telling it turned out to be. Let's break it down:
Deb- front and center- and loving it- all the while a little flirty with twinkling eyes and smiles.
Bobbie- strong and tall and having our backs. There is nobody I'd rather have behind me.
John- the new guy, leaning more and more into our crazy world with his endearing smile and easy ways.
Chelsea- usually on the bottom floor, not so much in the middle of anything, but straight up and always there for us. She's also showing off that smile that lights up the room, and there ain't nothing better.
Me- wanting to stay out of the limelight, yet somehow always in the middle, sincerely enjoying the heck out of our Assisi family and plotting the next mountains to collectively conquer.
Santa- a volunteer, epitomizing what volunteers are- wish granters for all of the extra specials given to the animals in our care. Angels of Assisi provides the foundation of our mission, and the volunteers come in and light it all up, bearing the gifts of their time and talents, and forever making us believers in the good side of humankind.
The most symbolic part of this photo, however, is the one that is not seen- it's the lady behind the camera, our friend Carrie French. All of those personalities perfectly captured and made to look darn good are because of her.
You haven't seen Carrie's name associated with the beautiful images that come from Angels of Assisi, but she's always in the background creating them. Carrie has an amazing way of blending in with the surroundings, not drawing any attention to herself, and with a kind heart and sharp mind capturing the spirit of these precious moments in time. She's always there for the animals, and it's not uncommon to see her with a squeaky toy in one hand, treats in her hip pocket, one of her amazing kids at her feet, while the other hand holds a clicking camera to her eye. She embodies the true sense of giving back with all of her heart.
Carrie is by far one of the smartest and overall most amazing people I've had the pleasure of meeting in this journey called animal rescue. I am honored to call her friend, and I know many others that share that honor, probably better than she does. From the bottom of our hearts we thank her for innately bringing out the inner beauty and giving those who needs her most a real shot at life and love.
A great photograph is one that fully expresses what one feels, in the deepest sense,
about what is being photographed.
— Ansel Adams
Last month, 55 dogs arrived at Angels of Assisi as the result of a seizure. We picked them up from a designated holding area, and since then we have housed them, bathed them, performed dental work, kept detailed records, sweatered and blanketed them, and rejoiced at the simple things, like the much anticipated, slow and deliberated tail wag.
Most of all, we've given them our hearts, and, based on increasingly trusting eyes that follow our every move, we believe they have given us some of theirs as well. Recent court proceedings have not resolved who gets custody of the dogs, and for now they are floating on the uncertainties of their future, with a real possibility of going right back where they came from.
Limbo is not the place we'd like to be with these 55 hearts and souls right now, but it's where we are. Our job is to keep the creeping feelings of dread far away from their daily routine, and let them bask in the attention and care given by staff and volunteers. We trust that the authorities handling their outcomes will be fair and consistent, and arrive at a resolution soon. Until then, we'll live in the moment with them because sometimes a day at a time is all one can muster. We'll keep our hearts open, while knowing they may get broken, and do our very, very best in their interest, because they deserve nothing less.
You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in your joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.
― Margery Williams
Name Tags- check.
More towels- check.
Full tank of gas- check.
Caring and efficient transporters- check.
Clinic staff and volunteers on standby- check.
A caring community ready to toss in a healthy dose of TLC- check.
We're doing a puppy mill rescue tomorrow, and expecting around 50 dogs. They only know how to eat if their food is thrown on the floor- right now bowls are foreign to them. They were matted to point of not being able to open their mouths, and we suspect they are in a little bit of shock right now. We're warming up the dental machine, the bath water, the clippers, the blankets, and our hearts to welcome them here tomorrow night. Hang tight, little ones, things are going to get better.
Indifference and neglect often do much more damage than outright dislike.
— J.K. Rowling
Our handsome boy, Big Head Todd, paying tribute to the few and proud.
Some people spend an entire lifetime wondering if they made a difference in the world.
The Marines don't have that problem.
― Ronald Reagan
We're holding on to several small dogs for a family in need. It was one of those situations where there was little time for talk or consideration, just an immediate decision that yes, we would help these dogs for the sake of safety. They have been great little guests, but like many new guys you can see the wheels turning, trying to figure out why they are here, who we are, and just how they will fit in.
Today they got a break from the wondering, as a man carrying an oxygen tank, a cane, and a smile arrived at our door. He came just to see them, to give them a familiar face, some one on one, and a reassurance to hang in there, and trust that every little thing is going to be alright. And for the time he spent with them, it was beyond alright, it was spins and grins and hey! We know you! And you're here just to see us! A kind and familiar face goes an awfully long way in this big old world, especially when yours has been turned upside-down.
We're expecting our guests to go home soon, and are ever so grateful that they got to let it all hang loose with their friend today. His visit took a tremendous amount of effort, but for these dogs it meant everything, and we think it did for him too.
If a friend is in trouble, don’t annoy him by asking if there is anything you can do.
Think up something appropriate and do it.
~Edgar Watson Howe
It's been a huge day of community involvement- Wag O'Ween!- all wrapped around dogs in costumes escorted to local businesses by our faithful volunteers. These generous folks donated and gathered over 2000 pounds of food and litter, plus treats, toys, copy paper, bleach, laundry detergent, paper towels, and checks for our programs at Angels of Assisi. Best of all, we got to meet a lot of nice folks, and you all showed us, once again, how much our community cares about animals.
It's hard to express the extent of our gratefulness, but this email from one of our clients may help you understand. He is one of the recipients of your time and generosity, and at the end of the day, this right here is what it's all about.
Thank you, again, for a wonderful event today, and for making a difference.
When we give cheerfully and accept gratefully, everyone is blessed.
— Maya Angelou
Roanoke City Animal Control Officer Billanti recently contacted us about a dog needing help- she had some serious skin issues that needed attention, along with a general health exam. There was one hang up, the owner was unable to transport her. There was also a solution, and for that we are very grateful- Officer Billanti picked up the dog, a sweet girl named Lola, and brought her in for treatment. A few hours later, she came back for Lola, and we sent her home with some much needed medications and a brand new dog bed.
Thanks to all of our animal control officers who go above and beyond for the pets in our community. We know it's a tough job, but we also know you are making a big difference- not only for the pets, but for their people too.
Compassion is a verb.
~ Thích Nhất Hạnh
We're officially up and running with our Pets for Life program! Our goal is to build a humane community by bringing animal services, resources, and information to under-served areas. By addressing the critical need for accessible, affordable pet care, this program will help our community animals by empowering the people who care for them.
How? How does it all work? By picking a neighborhood, and knocking on doors. We were lucky with the beautiful weather yesterday, and got to meet quite a few folks who were sitting outside. The first guy we encountered was Bear, and he's going to have his skin issues addressed on Tuesday when he comes in for a neuter appointment.
As we worked our way through the neighborhood, most folks were happy to talk to us, and a few even invited us in, like this gentleman. He is deaf, but we communicated pretty well via notes on scrap paper. He's done a great job taking care of his 14 year old dog, and we're going to pick her up on Tuesday for a check up, along with a relatively new housemate- a cat who showed up on the doorstep- who will also come to Angels of Assisi for neuter, shots, and microchip.
Along with some wonderful progress of getting animals signed up for clinic visits came sights of dogs on chains, as many as 3 in a yard, and stray cats. Knowing this gives us something to work towards, and it will come together as we get to know folks, and they get to know us. We're not there to take animals away from people, we are there to give them resources and information to make things better- for both pets and humans.
Animal rescue is so much more than swooping in and taking them all away from their owners. It's also keeping pets in their existing homes, and helping those homes along the way. Are these all perfect situations with white picket fences and jeweled collars? No, but you can't let perfect take the place of good, and sometimes, most times, good is more than enough.
This little girl was brought to our clinic today, in hopes that what ailed her would be an easy fix. An exam revealed emaciation, infections, unhealed wounds, hair loss, and the need for extensive treatment. She was signed over to our care, and became another benefitting from the Biscuit Fund.
I brought her back to my office, to the red therapy chair, and she never moved. In fact, she stayed glued to one spot, staring at the door. I believe she was waiting for those that left her with us to come back, right through it, at any moment.
The realization that they were not seemed to slowly sink in, and as it did, I sent her photo to my friend, Chelsea.
You see, my friend Chelsea has also had someone recently leave her, unexpectedly and filled with pain. And my friend Chelsea knows that while nobody can fill that void, this little dog needs her to need her, and take care of her, and fill the spaces- those between her protruding back bones and those in her heart. And while Chelsea works on her, little Biscuit dog will do her own sort of healing, the kind that only neglected rescued animals can reciprocate with. We're looking forward to seeing the results, for both of them, in the days to come.
I had the pleasure of helping check in for surgery this morning, and it was a wonderful experience to see how much you all care about your animals. Each one was gently brought in, by leash, carrier, or in your arms, and each was bid a sad, albeit temporary, farewell. The goodbyes were peppered with "you'll be fine" "I know a part of you will be missing when I come back, but it'll be OK" and a few tears here and there. Nelson, pictured below, got to hang with dad as he filled out his paperwork.
Thank you to all, today and everyday, for bringing your beloved pets to Angels of Assisi for shots, check ups, spay/neuter, surgery, and dental work. Thank you for waiting patiently for your turn, and for understanding the busy flow of our building. We appreciate your support very much, and we love the fact that you love your pets like you do.
Meet Jackson. He came in sort of hot mess, and we were able to groom him and make sure he was updated on vaccinations. After a stay with us, he went back to his owner, equipped with some information on keeping him busy, a new Kong toy, and an appointment for neuter and microchip.
Reunions such as the one between Jackson and his owner, we believe, are an integral part of animal rescue. Sometimes people need a little help in keeping their animals, and we can play a tremendous and important role in making that happen. There are times when us humans get a little lost along the way, times that we live, literally, day to day, because that's the only way to keep from falling into complete despair, and there are times when our animals are the only reason we get up and try it again, because they love and need us. And because we love and need them.
Welcome home, Jackson. We enjoyed meeting your owner very much; we wish you both a lifetime of health and happiness, and will always be here for you.
Until he extends the circle of his compassion to all living things,
man will not himself find peace.
― Albert Schweitzer
Imagine a wonderful little grandma, with an endearing English accent, presented with a precious new kitten by her family. It happened here last Saturday.
This adoption is one of the many memories we have of our summer ASPCA 100K Challenge, and we cherish each and every person- from both sides of the pond- who has helped us make them.
Some of our adoption center animals got to visit Roanoke Fire and EMS Station 1 today. and got a special message from those on duty. Guess what? We heart you right back- thank you for being our local heroes, every single day.
Our friend Nicholas requested donations to Angels of Assisi for his ninth birthday, and he really loaded us up! He got to take a tour of the clinic and adoption center to see all the good his donations would be going towards, including some kitties fresh out of surgery for some pretty serious medical issues.
I'm frequently asked "Are you surprised?" when referring to the goodness of volunteers, fosters, and those donating. My answer is no, I'm not surprised. I'm grateful and humbled, and we do our very best to put people's time, talents, and gifts to the best use possible. We are eternally thankful for your support.
How lucky we are that ours is a community of people who love animals, and they will help them, over and over. Just like Nicholas did in honor of his ninth birthday.
We had a wonderful time at the Salem Red Sox game yesterday- dogs and baseball, what could be better? Thrown in some adoptions, that's what! Our senior girls Chi Chi and China were 2 who found new homes, and a good time was had by all. Many thanks to Salem Red Socks and our volunteers who made sure the afternoon was perfect!
Baseball, to me, is still the national pastime because it is a summer game. I feel that almost all Americans are summer people, that summer is what they think of when they think of their childhood. I think it stirs up an incredible emotion within people.
~Steve Busby, in Washington Post, 8 July 1974