THE ANIMALS ARE NOT THE ONLY ONES SUFFERING
In rescue we often focus on the animals, their story, their suffering, their recovery and their ultimate happiness. We can overlook the rescuer, and rescuers overlook their own personal well being. With this kind of repetitive behaviour real damage can be done.
I have been involved in this ‘industry’ for 6 years now. Every day you just get up and get on with it. One dog is rescued, another dies, another is adopted, another one needs help, another is rescued, another is returned, you see one chained, caged, in searing heat with no water, no hair, a broken leg, a missing eye. You scramble to help ones that you physically see, but also the ones you see online, through the social media pages.
The horror is constant and it becomes normal. And that’s when you know something has to change.
This is not normal.
This is not acceptable.
This is not sustainable.
I have personally suffered in silence for too long. I’ve tried to focus on the ‘paws’itive’ of each rescue. Elated to have them safe. Share their journey with you of their trans’fur’mations and their ‘happy home tales’, but I come back to asking ‘why did they have to suffer in the first place?’.
Because humanity is losing the fight.
We are the reason. Humans. Responsibility is shirked off. People expect others to solve their ‘problem’. A mother and her puppies, the dog that appeared at their gate with no hair, the dog they adopted but barks and they no longer want it. The list is endless.
I’ve even had people tell me ‘it’s your job to save them’. No it’s not. This is not my JOB. And to have countless messages every day with photos of animals in need can cause real trauma to humans too. No rescuer has been ‘trained’ or equipped with the tools on how to mentally cope with the expectation and pressure. There is no special counselling available to us. We are not robots. We are all just every day people that stopped and started saving lives.
In January I crashed. What many people had predicted materialised. I mentally deteriorated and needed to get out. I left Bali with in a few days of the walls closing in on me. I had to. The constant sights of those streets filled with dogs, some owned, some not, worrying the happy street dogs would be poisoned because they were multiplying. Seeing puppies, being messaged constantly expecting me to save them all. The worry and fear entangles your entire being and you just stop thinking normally. You become erratic, nonsensical believing that this is ‘normal’ and it just isn’t!
I believe now, as I sit in my parents home to catch my breath and perspective on life, that I am suffering Post Traumatic Stress. A stress that has been building up for many years. Seeing so much horror. Experiencing so much anger that I’ve had to internalise. But I know when I return I will be faced, yet again, with more dogs on those streets still needing support.
I don’t have the answer on how to change this scene. We are all doing our damndest to save the Bali Dogs. Large organisations, small organisations, solo rescuers and every day individuals. We save them, adopt them and save some more. Most of us run sterilisation days but it’s not touching the surface.
What is the solution? I am honestly out of solutions. One thing I do know is that in 2019 I have to change something. Mission Paws’ible will continue to focus on educating and empowering OTHERS to save lives, sterilise dogs and cats, educate people about better pet care. We will of course rescue those that cross our path.
Who knows what we will have achieved by the end of the year but dog knows it can’t be the same as 2018.
Thank you to everyone that has supported me through this journey. I know it hasn’t been easy for many of us. Thank you to my fellow rescuers, I know you all would no doubt feel the overwhelm as I do. Thank you to my family and friends that have had to deal with this for so long and to my ‘Black Dog’ Fatty, who is more of a therapist than a metaphor for depression. She is my teacher and has also been processing the stress I have been suffering.
Here’s to 2019 and a year of making an impact through education, activation and empowerment. Promotion of adoption and better pet care. Taking pride in our pets and the strong bond we can develop. Respecting them for living, breathing feeling beings and not a status symbol.