Written by: Danielle Eisenberg, Cat Caregiver
As I approach my first year anniversary working at Pets Alive, I have given a lot of thought about what it is I truly do as well as about the organization itself. When I first started as a cat caretaker, I encountered many things: passionate people, illness, loss, success stories, but most of all, all-encompassing compassion. On a daily basis, I go to work and care for 150+ cats. I feed them, clean up after them, medicate those in need, monitor their health and most importantly, show them love and trust. I have tried to approach the shy ones slowly and deferentially every day, and a year later I can touch them. Some of them have had near miraculous turnarounds in their tolerance and interactions with humans. I have also been witness to and part of the placement of over 300 cats into their new families and forever homes. I have kissed most of them goodbye and loved them unconditionally while they were in our care.
The biggest takeaway from the last year, though, is truly what Pets Alive does and our core philosophy. We are responsible for saving animals lives. We run many programs to help the community and support the animals in our care. We host a Senior for Senior program, Hospice fosters, pet retention programs, dog training classes, TNR, Pet Chow Pantry and educational programs, plus many others. We help people help their animals.
We work with local law enforcement in cruelty cases and become a holding/caring facility to rehabilitate animals who have suffered neglect and abuse. We take animals in from local ACOs for placement as well as from the general public, as space allows. This year we helped with two hoarding cases and saved many lives that would have been lost through euthanasia had we not stepped in. And we do time and again without skipping a beat.
We find ourselves facing challenges every day which most people would never think possible. Many or most would turn their head to not see the horrors of animal treatment in the world. But that brings me to what Pets Alive truly is. Pets Alive is a no kill animal SANCTUARY. Once an animal comes to us, we are the one place that commits to their care for LIFE. The animal hopefully will be adopted into a home, but if something arises, they can always come back to us and we will care for them no matter what. Each and every animal, anytime. Sometimes this commitment takes place just with us.
We have animals here at Pets Alive who have been with us for their entire lives, or the good majority of it. When we take in a harder to place animal, we work with that animal constantly in order to get them to a place where they can be more easily placed in an appropriate home. Sometimes this takes a long time – some take weeks, some can take years. As a sanctuary, we try and provide as much care for them and give each individual whatever it is they need so they can ultimately thrive. We have built special enclosures, set up special rooms for animals with special needs and worked with training personnel as well as volunteers to help improve behavior and adoptability. I have personally worked with many cats who needed help building trust, and I am currently clicker training a cat who has aggression issues so he can safely be around people. No animal in our care is labeled “not adoptable”. Our constant goal is to work with each one to find them a home that suits their needs.
All that being said, a SANCTUARY as opposed to a shelter needs more funds to care for our 350 animals. We provide care to those who, in some instances, have literally nowhere else to go. We currently house about 100 dogs, 225 cats, 8 horses, 6 goats and 3 pigs. The operational cost of caring for these animals is a daunting number at times. The basics of food, water, shelter, litter/bedding as well as the staff to care for them are the minimum. Add to that the medical costs of vaccinations, spay/neuters, surgeries and treatments for ailments, the electric bill and heating during our frigid New York winters… we feel it! We are not funded by anyone except public donations. We rely on the hearts of our donors to help provide us with items we need and their funds to keep it all in place to survive. As I write this today, I received the basic need of paper towels from an adopter, an offer for a volunteer to help clean up after the cats, 2 adoptions and an offer to become a monthly sponsor. Today was a good day. On other days we receive no help, supplies or money and more animals show up at the door for us to take care of.
I hope that you realize in reading this that we need your help. We are all passionate people. We all give of ourselves to help save the animals. Some people give their time, some people give their money but all people give from their hearts for the animals. Please be a supporter of Pet Alive to keep us the SANCTUARY to our animals that they deserve. Thank you from all of us at Pets Alive, animals and humans alike.