How to Start a Cat Rescue

Step One: Get a Dog

We knew we were in this for the underdogs. A ragtag pack of animal lovers that came together in their mutual hope to ‘do it right’, while knowing full well that to everyone, including to all of us- there is a different view of what that means. To us—collectively that means stepping up when we are needed and taking on what we can to meaningfully make a difference against a mountain of animal suffering in a world that is unkind to both the human and non humans that inhabit it. 

Our organization began with 5 semi-feral cats and the commitment to intake a few challenging cases on a well planned schedule…and then there was Airy.

Airy is the embodiment of what we are referring to when we say that doing it right means stepping up when we are needed, and taking on what we can. A cat rescue with one dog. One. She came to us from a ‘rescue’ (read: hoarder) that honestly, I don’t even want to mention by name. Airy is a victim. She has been failed by humans—repeatedly. First, clearly used for breeding in the south she found herself with a saggy tummy dumped in a high kill shelter. From there she was sent to a ‘rescue’ that was operating with sub-par and frankly unethical practices. For three years Airy was housed in a crate with cedar bedding in a dim shed with other dogs and rarely was she given access to a fenced mud-filled yard in which other dogs ran the perimeter, and the literal and figurative stench of animal suffering hung in the air. Airy was not alone in this story- there were over 100 dogs in need of rescue from their rescue. 

We put Network in our name. We network animals, we work with multiple organizations and communities, and we believe in networking as a critical component of saving animal lives. And so I helped to network Airy and her friends. I never met her before she was ours. I did not see the hell that she endured (although I speak to those that did). I respect, thank and will always remember their names for what they did—boots on the ground….but Airy was out of time and needed a placement, step up when needed. We could afford one dog in boarding, we have wonderful relationships with a couple good-minded trainers, we have experience with the underdog, the reactive dog, the misunderstood blocky dog and so having planned to start with some difficult cats and move into dogs, chickens and small animals down the road, we became a cat rescue with one dog. We can take on one dog right now and we stepped up when we were needed and I feel great about that.
We can take on one dog right now and we will not step up many times that we are needed or asked to take more dogs and I ache in the face of that. The need is great—greater than us and so we are humble enough not to try to peak the mountain but to pick away from the bottom with the help of our community. Airy moved from boarding to “temporary” foster with my family. I train and love and hold her every day. Every day she makes progress, she comes out of her shell and moves further from the memories of all the times she has been failed before. We will not fail this dog—I will not fail this dog and so I chose to use the space for our first blog to make a public promise to the boots on the ground that saved our one—our first dog and her friends. Airy has been rescued for the last time.