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How I learned not to look away


We’ve all been there — we see a story on the news or posted on Facebook of some horrifying act of animal cruelty. Maybe some people are able to go on with their day, but those of us who love animals can’t. We might look like we are, but one of those stories can in fact ruin our entire day, week, month.

black and white cat

Slick was nursed back to health thanks to HELP Humane in Belton, MO.

But I can tell you that working at the Petfinder Foundation changed my perspective on these stories. As the VP of development, it’s my job to thank the donors who give to us, and to share the stories of the pets who are helped by shelters and rescue groups with assistance from our grants.

So while I see the terrible stories about the cruel acts committed by sick individuals, I also see the scores of compassionate people who respond by helping. I see peoples’ best selves — the part of them that is moved to defend our most defenseless creatures, whether by giving their money, their time or both.

Slick’s story is just one example of the type of report that comes across my desk every day. We learned about him from Cyndi Dill at HELP Humane Society in Belton, MO, which received a Shelter+ Challenge grant from the Petfinder Foundation and The Animal Rescue Site.

girl snuggling with a kitten

Slick and his new best friend

“Slick was brought into our vet clinic right at closing time on a Saturday afternoon,” Cyndi writes. “A Good Samaritan had seen the kitten get tossed from a car right in front of her. She stopped to help the kitten but could not afford to have his injuries treated. Her vet contacted us about taking over his care and we were happy to be able to help him.

“Our vets were not sure he would survive — he had many injuries and a hairline fracture on one of this back legs. He did survive and is now in a family where they can’t imagine life without him. Their little girl dresses him up. He is now a year old. Slick loves his little girl.”

This story might start with a heartless person who committed an unthinkable act of cruelty toward a helpless kitten, but it ends with an outpouring of love — from the woman who in all likelihood risked getting hit by a car herself to save Slick, the vets who labored to save his life instead of writing him off as a lost cause, the staff at HELP who paid for his care and found him a loving home, and of course from the adopters who made Slick a family member for life.

Of course, for all too many abused animals, there is no such happy ending. But what I’ve learned in my job is that, for every cruel person, there are hundreds of heroes. So don’t look away. Look closer, and you’ll see them. Better yet, volunteer, adopt, donate, and you’ll BE a hero, whether for an abused pet or just one waiting for a family to call his own.

Your donations enable us to help shelters and rescue groups help more pets like Slick.



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