“You are the One, Neo. You see, you may have spent the last few years looking for me, but I have spent my entire life looking for you.”
– Morpheus, The Matrix
Humans seem to be born to measure things. From our earliest days in school we are taught that the tools that will be used to measure us are grades (A thru F) and ranking and comparison to our fellow students. We carry these ideas of measurement and self-worth throughout our adult lives, always striving to attain the highest possible measurement afforded to us. Whether in our day jobs or our passion jobs, we constantly compare and measure ourselves to our peers in whatever we are doing.
It seems in animal rescue that the measurement tool we utilize is how many dogs were saved/adopted/transported, etc. It is without a doubt that the perception is that more is definitely better than less and that the larger groups or more frequent volunteers are indeed far superior to their peers. If volunteer A saves 1 dog and volunteer B saves 10 dogs, you’d likely attribute more impact and positive praise on volunteer B. But I ask you, what is the power of the one in animal rescue?
Imagine for a moment that I told you that the 1 dog saved by volunteer A went on to be a therapy dog helping an autistic child communicate more effectively with the world. Would you attribute more worth to that 1 dog and the volunteers that saved him than to the 10 dogs that were simply adopted to other homes? Or perhaps that 1 dog went on to become a service dog in law enforcement and helped find illegal drug shipments, stopping these drugs from getting into the hands of thousands of teens and adults across the country and saving countless lives and families from the impact of loved ones addicted to drugs. Starting to feel more support for volunteer A and the impact they made? Or maybe, just maybe, that 1 dog became a companion to a young child, and that 1 dog became the inspiration for that child who grew up to revolutionize animal rescue; not just for the U.S., but for the world. This child grew up to be a voice for the voiceless, the leader of the movement, the face of animal rescue, and forever changed the way humans treat animals thus ending euthanization of healthy animals entirely. That 1 dog, saved by the infrequent volunteer forever changed the world.
So the next time someone measures your impact in animal rescue or just questions your impact on animal rescue entirely, remind them that it only takes one to make a difference. And they may never know the difference your efforts made and how that one made a sweeping change and had a ripple effect for many years to come. Be proud of what you do! Whether you volunteer weekly or monthly, whether your rescue takes in 1 or 100 animals each year, know that your efforts now could have ripple effects for many years to come.