When you love a dog, you usually have respect for all living creatures. The same is true for one wildlife rescue in New York. Today we have the chance of sharing the story of STAR Foundation with you! What started out as a service for missing domestic pets, soon became the spark of change for rescue and rehab of wildlife. Read more about STAR below through the words of Lori Ketcham, Director.
When & Why did you start?
We started about 20 years ago. One of the founders was retiring from a career as a dog groomer, and the first project of the organization was Pet Line lost and found service. The goal was to provide a network that would help pet owners locate their missing pets, finders get the pets back to their rightful owners, and the unclaimed pets into new, safe homes. We also offered pet tags that included a 24 hour service that would get pets home safely if lost anywhere in the United States. The fees from this service were used to rescue pets who were injured and who would not stand a chance of being adopted unless they received vet care and rehab first.
The founders also were licensed wildlife rehabilitators, and as this became known, the wildlife started to far number the domestic animals. Wildlife rehab and rescue quickly overtook the organization as the primary mission. We now care for 100’s of wild animals annually, and have many permanent resident wild and exotic animals who help us with our educational programs, and act as foster parents for the orphans who come to STAR to be raised and released back to the wild.
We are 100% volunteer. No one, not even board members, receive a dime for their time and labor. We get no funding from any company or government agency. We rely on private donations from regular people who want to help us care for the animals.
We provide a place for the unusual and illegal pets who are seized, abandoned and lost.
We are not open to the general public, as we are required to keep the wild animals protected from the stress of human intervention, and it is very hard to get people to support something they cannot see.
What is the greatest success story or “win” that your rescue has had?
Every successful rescue where the animal is placed in a new home, or released back to its natural habitat is a “win”. Many of the animals would not be alive if we did not help, and even though they are at risk as wild animals, they still deserve a second chance. We have placed 3-legged dogs, cats with no eyes, and found sanctuaries to take disabled animals from a blind fox to a 60 pound tortoise, and a neurologic coyote. We recently sent several alligators to a wildlife facility in Florida, which put a dent in our budget but will make a huge difference in the lives of the gators!
What’s the most rewarding thing about working at your rescue?
This job is long hours and hard, dirty work. Some days we can’t save something and it is sad. But we know we are doing good work, and providing care for as many animals as we can accommodate. It is a wonderful feeling to fall exhausted into bed at night knowing that you have made a difference to the lives you have touched. It is also a wonderful way to get to know the best people. Although the hotline calls can be trying and the people can be demanding and impatient, we are educating the callers one at a time. Our programs help us bring information to the public, and makes those people better able to respect and protect the wildlife they come in contact with.
What can people do to help your rescue?
Several large rescues that we aided in this past spring brought us about 150 animals that we have been caring for and slowly finding homes for. Our food, bedding and caging expenses are astronomical, but all who needed vet care have been treated, and are now ready to go. We hope that anyone interested in a new family member will look at our Pet Finder or Adoptapet sites and fill out an adoption application. If you are unable to provide a home, you can help us continue to care for the critters until they can be placed by making a donation on our website http://www.savetheanimalsrescue.org