Intro: this is the story of a specialist animal rescue worker: a TNR (trap-neuter-release) volunteer. She made a comment on a heavily viewed page about the high suicide rate of animal rescue workers. I felt that Cheryl’s comment deserved a wider audience than would be the case had it been left as a comment.
It is front line feedback from someone who has been involved for a long time in TNR programs. For me this is a form of animal rescue. I hope you like her comment. It provides us with an insight into the emotional and practical difficulties of working in animal rescue generally and in managing feral cat colonies in particular. The friendship of her colleagues keep her going.
By Cheryl Colby
I have been doing extensive TNVR – Trap/Neuter/Vaccinate/Release in the Raleigh, NC area for over 11 years. I can personally attest to the exhaustion and feeling of dread in trying to ward off overpopulation that eventually leads to death.
I have trapped literally hundreds and pulled more kittens than I can count out of these colonies. My saving grace is that I work with several wonderful organizations in our area to place these kittens and I have access to free spay/neuter/vaccinations as a result of volunteering at a local monthly clinic. I make rounds to feed before, during, and after work and feed over 100 cats a day.
All out of pocket, with the exception of very generous donations that occasionally come my way. It is mentally and physically fatiguing and the demand never ends, because the price of walking away is too high.
I am angry about the mentality that allows the overpopulation to occur and I am angry that the laws don’t do enough to protect the animals. I am angry that the hundreds of people that see me making my daily rounds offer practically no help – financially or otherwise.
My saving grace is the relationships that I have made with like minded people. THAT is what I try to hold onto. Most others do not understand and, even worse, ridicule what I do. It’s pretty disheartening and emotionally draining. However, I do agree with the statement about feeling this was a calling. I have been in the “right” place more times than I can count to save animals in jeopardy and I have the intelligence and stamina to keep pushing through to keep making a difference.
HOWEVER – I totally understand and can relate to the depression. It’s a constant battle of exhaustion, heartache, and being constantly broke. A pretty bad combination that gets to me more and more as time goes on. In the meantime I and my like minded allies keep putting up the good fight. It certainly is not easy and I empathize completely with those who have commented that find themselves in similar circumstances.
P.S. Please comment and support Cheryl. Trolls will not banished.