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A Day in the Life of an Animal Rescue Coordinator
 Posted: 09/12/18 9:11 AM by Andrea Sams

My name is Andrea Sams and I am an Animal Rescue Coordinator. I’ve been called on to help cats out of trees, rescue baby birds that fell out of nests, catch farm animals who wandered out onto the highway, and much more. But that’s not what I do. In a nutshell, I’m responsible for recruiting and managing relationships with our dog adoption partners, most who are privately run animal rescue groups, and coordinating with them to speed up our life-saving efforts when we face space issues or have to find help for dogs with special needs.

That’s my job in a nutshell. But if you were to step into my shoes for just one day, here’s a pretty good idea of what you might experience being an Animal Rescue Coordinator like me:

I walk into my office already thinking of a million things I want to be doing to help save more lives, like searching for new rescue groups and contacting more people willing to transport dogs from here to our adoption partners. But before I can even turn on my computer, one of our veterinarians is at my door asking me to work on finding an emergency rescue placement for a dog with a broken pelvis who was hit by a car. I have until 5:00pm. It’s 8:30am. Here we go…I got this. I’ll do whatever I can to get this poor boy seen on social media and send out emails to all my contacts. Done!

Now, back to filling out health certificates for the happy dogs that found rescue placement and will be leaving on an out-of-state transport tomorrow. Then I’m scheduling surgeries for some other—wait. What? A puppy had a vaccine reaction and needs special attention? No problem, it’s a puppy. I’ll get his photo posted and he’ll be confirmed to a rescue in no time and on his way to somewhere where he can be monitored 24/7. Done! 

I’ve found several rescues willing to take some of our large dogs that are heartworm positive. These are the hardest dogs in our shelter to find homes for, so I’m psyched! But because heartworm treatment is so expensive ($500+ for big dogs) and I’m asking them to take several, our rescue partners can’t take them if they haven’t been treated. No problem! That’s one of the main reasons why we have a Second Chance Fund—to help us save the lives of animals with medical problems. I’m feeling pretty great when I can tell our rescue partners the happy news that we will be able to treat these dogs for heartworms at no cost to them.

Now it’s lunch time, but I’m not thinking about lunch. I’m thinking about how I only saw two empty kennels when I walked through the dog rooms this morning, knowing we’ll probably get 15 new dogs in the next 4 hours and hoping we get a lot of customers today and our team adopts a enough of dogs. I’m thinking about the 20 dogs I need to take photographs of before the day is over so their pictures and bios can be sent to our rescue partners in the hopes they might take some of them and ease the strain on our crowded kennels. I’m thinking about 10 dogs in particular who have been here the longest and who I’m most worried about if we run out of space.

Space. It’s like a bad word in the shelter. When you work here, you see real quick just how important space is to life-saving. Sometimes people will ask, “Why don’t you just build more kennels?” but that’s never the answer to add MORE dogs to our already crowded shelter. The answer is to find MORE homes and to find MORE ways to help people keep their own pets and to get them spayed and neutered so there are fewer who need to be sheltered in the first place.

When space is at its most critical point, the buck stops with the Animal Rescue team. If there aren’t enough people coming in to adopt them then we have to find other partner groups to take them in and find them homes quickly or our community’s animals face euthanasia. In my mind, that’s not even on the table as an option when it comes to space. I know there will always be animals that are not safe to place into homes or their quality of life is so poor that the only humane choice is euthanasia. But we, as a community, should be doing everything we can together to make sure every savable life is saved. That is what building a no-kill community is all about- working together to save them all. We just can’t do it without you.

Another email from the vet is waiting on me when I get back from lunch with a list of dogs with special needs, so I send out my plea to our rescue partners from most urgent to least. I take photos for a couple of hours and as I do, I walk countless dogs up and down the shelter halls. I watch them interact with me and other people, and I wonder what’s on their minds. What do they think we’re doing? They get excited when they see a door. Do they think they’re going home? Because unfortunately they’re not…at least not until a family or a rescue partner comes for them. I’ll have to take them back to their kennel and I know they’ll be reluctant to go back in. They’ll wonder why I left them there when I’m gone.

Now our rescue partners are here and I’m talking to them about these amazing dogs while at the same time getting paperwork gathered…all the while thinking about the new dogs that I need to get listed so they can be seen, too. Then, wouldn’t you know, a dog comes in that has had its tail ripped off and I have an hour to find it a place to go. I find it a rescue and the dog leaves with them just before I call it a day. Done!

Not every day is a success. I don’t get to go home and relax much, because I know they will still need my help tomorrow. They will need your help tomorrow. For eleven years I have woken up and brought myself to work here because they don’t have a voice. They are brought in everyday for reasons unknown to us. They are lost, they are old and broken, they are young and orphaned, etc. Many of them are perfectly healthy and perfectly behaved and yet they still sit here waiting on their forever home. I share my story because I feel like not enough people know that every breed of dog you can think of ends up at Greenville County Animal Care, no matter how purebred they are. Just because they’re here doesn’t mean there is something wrong with them, and like people they deserve another chance, too.



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