The animal rescue world needs more proteges

“Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.” ― Benjamin Franklin

I do a lot of networking in animal rescue and I talk with a lot of different people.  Some people I speak with are experienced rescue professionals and they teach me a thing or two, and some people are newbies in the rescue world, but with a spark in their eye and big plans for how their idea can revolutionize animal rescue for everyone.

We’ve all been there at one point in our animal rescue careers.  Maybe you volunteered as a transporter, worked in a shelter walking dogs, or helped canvas the neighborhood to find a lost puppy.  Each one of us entered the animal rescue world with a vague understanding of the intricacies and difficulties involved in saving man’s best friend.  Our first foray often sparks something inside us to do more, give more and contribute to solving the problem together.

If you are lucky, your passion for wanting to help was fanned and supported by someone that took you under their wing as their protege.  A more seasoned rescue professional who slowly shared the lessons you’ll need to be successful, and the ins and outs of the animal rescue industry.  This person likely helped you to understand the disconnectedness of animal shelters and animal rescues across the country, the need for communications, transport and fundraising, and the fact that PetFinder dominates the adoption side of things.  They helped you to comprehend the enormity of the challenge and the need for a support system to rely on and prevent burnout.  And they probably tried to listen patiently to your zany ideas for singlehandedly solving the problems of rescue, while quietly thinking to themselves how there is so much more you need to learn.

I was lucky enough to have a mentor who has been there since my early days in animal rescue.  She’s a private person so I will not share her name but she is a seasoned pro having done animal rescue for over 20 years.  She listened to my ideas for Doobert from the early days, and helped guide me to build the processes and procedures that we use to this day to help ensure we are dealing with reputable organizations.  She was never judgmental even when she probably could have been choosing instead to gently nudge or guide me in the right direction after listening to my adamant justification on how I was right.  She boosted my confidence when it was lacking, and supported me when I needed a strong shoulder to lean on.  She is the reason I pay-it-forward trying to support others in a similar capacity.

Do you have a protege that you’re guiding?  How are you helping shape the next generation?

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