While the past few years have been quite a challenge for humans – the different strains of Covid-19, quarantines, masks, social distancing – it’s been just as difficult for our furry friends and carers. of them.
During the pandemic, adoptions grew at a record pace and some shelters found themselves empty for the first time. Now that life is back to normal, the concern of the professional animal rescuer is that these same animals are returned to the same shelters or, worse, abandoned.
“This pandemic has raised awareness about animals, and that’s wonderful,” says Jodi Chase of A Better Life-Pet Rescue. “People went and they emptied the shelters. But all along, as a lifeguard, I was like, “Oh shit!” Everyone wants to do a good deed because they have free time, but what happens is that these shelters are filling up with these same dogs and cats.
Jodi Chase knows all about animal rescue. As co-founder and former president, now vice president of A Better Life-Pet Rescue, she’s seen a thing or two and has stories to tell.
“People have to think before adopting. Now that life is getting back to normal, people say, “I don’t have time for the dog anymore. Well, you make time for the dog and get a dog walker if you have long days at work. You made a commitment to this animal, and it’s like a child. You don’t just abandon your child. Can you say I’m passionate about it? she asks, laughing.
A judgment-free zone
Despite her stance, Jodi isn’t one to be judgmental; she’s been there and made her own mistakes along the way.
“I had a dog when I got out of college. I had to have a pug and I bought him from a breeder. His name was Hamlet, the prince of Providence, Rhode Island, and I loved him a lot. But I didn’t have him neutered, and I gave him away because I came from a background that taught me that animals are there for a purpose. I look back on that and think, ” God, I was so young and stupid.” I made sure he went to a good home, but I regret it.
Jodi reflects on this time in her life and the important lesson she learned helping others adopt a pet. “I always think about my mistake when working with someone younger. I make sure they understand it’s a lifelong commitment. Cats can live around 20 years and dogs can live from 16 to 18. Are you ready for this commitment?
Having been raised on a three-acre farm and in a family with “agricultural values,” which means animals are seen as providing a service, Jodi was uncomfortable with animals as props or animals. animals as a service.
“I’m pretty much a farm girl from southern New Hampshire. I grew up living an agricultural type life and we never had pets. We had pigs and sheep, and I had a rabbit that I loved that was kept outside in a cage. I would never do that now. My father, who was also raised on a farm, raised beagles and sold them. He loves animals, but he loves them differently. I came into contact with animals from an early age in a different way than my father. I just wanted to feed them and take care of them, and I wanted to make a difference.
Then came college and an acting career, but beneath the surface, Jodi had a calling to serve. It all started when she found a stray dog or cat that needed help.
“I started rescue in 2004, basically finding dogs and cats. Back then, we only had emails to find homes. We didn’t have a website. We ended up by creating a website, but we didn’t have non-profit status at the time.”
After about a year, A Better Life-Pet Rescue was official. “In 2006, after saving nearly 500 animals on their own, this non-profit status emerged, and that’s when things really picked up.”
Cut to 2022, and A Better Life has rescued around 3,000 dogs and cats over the years. “I don’t have an official figure, but I can estimate the figure on our website. It’s probably a conservative figure. With the help and guidance we’ve provided, there could be over 5,000 , but physically rescued, about 3,000.”
“Do not breed or purchase while shelter pets are dying.”
That’s Jodi’s mantra. “I know it’s corny,” she laughs. “But that’s what I say all the time. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t hate breeders and I’m not a hater of breeders. I hate puppy shops and think they should be banned. We must reap the benefits of breeding. Anything lucrative with animals is forbidden to me.
Another interesting piece of information is the difference between an animal sanctuary and an animal sanctuary.
Shelters are different from animal shelters. Some rescues have a facility, but the majority are foster rescues, where they rely on volunteers to foster the animal.
“Our rescue helps people who find animals. Say you found a cat or dog, you didn’t know what to do with it, and you didn’t want to take it to a shelter because you know the end game is euthanasia.
This is where A Better Life-Pet Rescue comes to the rescue. They take in animals in need, providing money to the foster family, so they don’t have to pay anything out of pocket. Then they meticulously vet potential owners who want to adopt the animal.
“We call their vet referral, and if they rent, we call their landlord and review their lease to make sure the animal is licensed. We need to cross all the T’s and dot all the I’s, making sure that the animal is not placed in a home that will abandon it after it passes the cute and fluffy stage.
The process can seem daunting, but Jodi assures us it’s worth it. “We adopt most people who apply, but sometimes we have to say no if someone isn’t ready. Once we get to the home visit, it’s rare that we don’t go through with the adoption. I’ve only done this twice in 20 years.
One of the most important issues for animal rescues is not money or finding donations, but finding volunteers to take in animals in need.
“The community can provide support through donations. While we absolutely appreciate donations, foster families are what we need most. Even if there is only one kitten that will be adopted in a week, it is an important way to volunteer. Because we do not have an establishment, host families are essential. Sometimes people forget that we are not a facility. We are a group that loves animals and wants to make a difference, like everyone else.
Jodi likes to remind potential adoptive parents that A Better Life-Pet Rescue covers all expenses, and there are never any out-of-pocket costs when a volunteer adopts an animal.
A better life-Today
As mentioned earlier in the story, Jodi is the co-founder and current vice president of A Better Life. She has recently taken a step back and is delighted that Emilie Alfonso, who also holds a position at Sanford Zoo, will take the reins as director.
“Rescue work is an emotional rollercoaster. The ups and downs are so extreme that it can hurt you and your soul a lot.
“I’m semi-retired,” says Jodi, but as a busy improv actress who works in entertainment at Walt Disney World, “semi-retired” is a relative term. Jodi is looking forward to spending more time at home with her husband, John, and their two rescued dogs and two cats.
“Honestly, I couldn’t do it without John. I never would have lasted this long without him. The job can be daunting, and I may have finally left the roller coaster, but I will never stop. It is the essence of who I am.
For more information or to volunteer at A Better Life-Pet Rescue, go to betterlifepets.com