Our day begins with logging onto our computer, only to find we have a mere 161 emails to read before finishing our morning cup of coffee. Some of the subject titles read, “Senior Hound, last day is today,” “Overflowing with Puppies,” “13 more left, please help,” “Shy girl, and 3 legged beagle due to be gassed Tuesday.” Imagine having such a death sentence being held over your head, opening email after email, seeing the faces of fluffy, highly adoptable puppies, a scared little Shepherd curled up in the corner of a dirty kennel, a Labrador with just a blur behind him where the camera couldn’t capture how fast his tail was wagging.
Sometimes, well… no, most times, our eyes are welled up with tears, and the thoughts of: Where are we going to put them? How will we pay for the transport? What if one is heartworm positive, how will we pay for the treatment? This is when we take a deep breath, email our volunteers, start brainstorming about fund raising ideas, rebalance the checkbook, and just end the morning with an emailed response of ‘We’ll take them all’, backed only with one thought…
‘We’ll figure it out’.
We talked with Elyse Langsett, EHR’s Fundraising Director, after they won BBS’s most recent 1-Day Animal Shelter/Rescue Giveaway on Facebook. She elaborated on how this New Jersey rescue was started, their struggles and their successes.
When & Why did you start?
We became a 501c3 non-profit rescue in 2004. Our founder had been rescuing abandoned animals off the street in a bad inner city area for many years. One Monday at work she received an email that had pictures of all these puppies and dogs that were going to be gassed on Wednesday. She was shocked and determined to save as many as she could and with her employer’s blessing and over the next two days she worked on finding fosters and transport to try and save these death row dogs. Wednesday morning when she called the shelter to find out how many dogs were going to be killed that day she was able to speak the words which changed her life forever and became the seed from which Eleventh Hour Rescue would spring. The words she spoke were, “We will take them all…no one dies today”
What’s different about your rescue?
Our rescue is different because we take urgent cases across the United States and sometimes from other countries. What really sets us apart is our volunteers. We really do have the best volunteers in the world, hands down. We are 100% volunteer based and we are proud of the dedicated volunteers that make EHR what it is. I’ve even been approached by other shelters and rescues who ask me what our secret is, they tell me they can’t even get their paid staff to work as hard as our volunteers do. I tell them that there is no secret, we just have a common goal and big hearts, that’s it!
What is the greatest success story or “win” that your rescue has had?
We have saved thousands and every single life is precious and everyone has their own story. They are all successes and wins for Eleventh Hour. Every story, every life touches us all and we are the better for having helped. We did rescue one special dog who survived the gas chamber and became an overnight sensation last October; we were privileged to rescue Daniel the Miracle Beagle and gas chamber survivor.
What’s the most rewarding thing about working at your rescue?
The most rewarding thing would have to be seeing the dogs and cats find their forever homes. We save dogs that are emaciated with no fur from having mange, heartworm attacking their bodies, fleas from head to toe and a demeanor that shouts, “I’ve had a hard life.” After some time with us, we see their heartworm cured, their fleas get treated, their coats grow back in and they gain some weight. That sad, scared dog that walked into our doors gets to walk out confidently with a new family and a new lease on life. You can just tell they are thankful for their second chance and we’re thankful we were able to give it to them.
What can people do to help your rescue?
There is so much people can do to help us. If you’re local, come by and volunteer! It’s a great opportunity to get involved and more fun than you could ever imagine. Also, since we are a non-profit and receive no state or town funding, we rely strictly on our fundraising efforts and the generosity of our supporters. We won’t turn a dog away because they are paralyzed, blind or need hip replacement surgery so our vet bills are astronomical. Every dollar helps us to save another life and we appreciate any donations people are able to give us.
It sounds haphazard, and you might be thinking to yourself, that we made an irresponsible decision, do we really think we can save them ALL? How can we commit to taking a dog, sight unseen, with no idea about their health or temperament? Most of all you are probably asking yourself, ‘why do we put ourselves through this?’ or ‘I could never deal with that, I just couldn’t handle it.’
Approximately 4 million pets will die this year in shelters across the US. Some die humanely with lethal injection, some will be thrown into a gas chamber and die a slow, frightening death, some will be shot, or beaten. They will die with a feeling of abandonment, lonesomeness, and fear. Yet, these dogs are real, they are living… breathing… beings that crave love, companionship, and trust, while offering the same in return. They feel pain, hunger and sadness and we do what we do because we want to make a difference. If we can bring comfort to just one, we will. If we can save just one life, we will. The stories we read and each dog’s story is heart-wrenching, the numbers of those we can’t help are overwhelming, and every day we are haunted by the faces of those we can’t save.
We cannot stop.
We will not stop, until all of the cages are empty.
Thank you to Eleventh Hour Rescue for their dedicated work and service to the animals of their community.
We have another 1-Day Animal Shelter/Rescue Giveaway in a couple weeks! Stay tuned to the BBS Facebook Page for our announcement!