Animal Rescuers Share with Why They Save Homeless Pets


Anyone who has ever rescued a pet knows there are few greater feelings than giving an animal a second chance at the happy life it deserves. And the selfless people who have dedicated their lives to rescuing animals experience this feeling every time they connect a homeless pet with its forever family.

Still, saving animals is no easy feat. We learned through our interviews for’s latest feature, Real-life Heroes: Animal Rescue Volunteers Share How They Keep Fighting the Good Fight, that there are countless challenges that come with this noble endeavor.

So why do these animal heroes charge on to fight for these animals? We asked them — and were completely inspired by their answers!

They are born animal lovers

There was one very distinct detail that every rescuer we spoke with shared with one another — they have always been passionate about critters!

“I’ve always loved animals — I grew up with everything from dogs to guinea pigs to hedgehogs to bunnies — and in the back of my mind, I always knew helping animals was something I was passionate about,” reminisced Jessi Burns, Marketing and Communications Manager of Foothills Animal Shelter in Colorado.

Lisa Jensen, Board Member of Safe Haven Animal Rescue in Oklahoma City, said she’s also been nurturing a love of animals as far back as she can remember.

“I have loved animals all my life, and have had a dog just about my entire life,” she said. “It’s a love that came from my parents.”

Her happy memories of her early experiences working with animals stayed with her through the years, and had a major impact on what would later become her full-time passion.

“I recall in junior high volunteering for the local shelter by walking dogs and feeding them. I knew as I got older, I wanted to do something with animals and thought about training seeing eye dogs. I realized at some point that I was a terrible dog trainer!” she admitted. “I found my way to Petfinder a few years ago and saw the comments about fostering, and realized that’s what I wanted to do.”

They share a kinship with the creatures they save

In the same way many people feel an unshakeable bond with their own pets, people who work in animal rescue feel a connection to homeless pets everywhere.

“I have heard some people say we do what we do because we felt alone or abandoned at some point in our lives,” explained Mari Salls, Shelter Manager of Friends of Strays in Florida. “We can relate to the animals on a personal level. Maybe it’s the unconditional  love they show us even when they have been through the worst life can offer.”

And just as the rescuers have overcome their own hard times, the animals also persevere through their difficult circumstances — with help, of course, from the people who work so hard to save them.

“They are not broken, they are not bad, and they love with all of their being,” Mari said.

It’s not just their calling — it’s their duty

Marina Hebert, a volunteer with Small Animal Rescue Society of BC in Vancouver, also has a passion for animals — and can’t imagine not being a part of the cause.

“It’s a matter of integrity for me,” she said. “I wouldn’t feel right calling myself an ‘animal lover’ or ‘animal advocate’ without doing what I can to help put a small dent in some of the neglect and abuse out there.”

She believes her peers feel the same way — how else would they be able to get through the heartbreaking moments often brought on by the job?

“It can be stressful, and sometimes even traumatizing, when you have to witness the effects of abandonment and abuse,” she said. “But we keep going, because there is no other option.”

All of the volunteers we interviewed agreed on another very big point — anyone can help, and no effort is too small to make a difference! If you’re interested in helping save homeless pets in your community, consider reaching out to your local pet rescue or animal shelter to see how you can contribute to this wonderful cause.

Kelly Wright explores and celebrates the magical and mysterious bond between pets and people for’s Animal Heroes section. If you have an amazing story about how an animal has brought joy and wonder to your life, please email her at