Almost a year ago, we were approached by a film crew about a super top secret docuseries being produced by none other than the Austin film legend, Richard Linklater. All we knew about its focus was “the human-animal connection,” but we were thrilled and eagerly said “yes, we’d love to help!”
A legitimate question is “Why would we focus time and attention on our 5 seconds of fame when we have so much work to do to save lives and run our organization?” I’ll tell you why. People can’t see what I see and they really need to in order to really understand the magic that is APA!.
They need to see the Sophie’s Choice-like drama of how dog, cat and kitten teams scramble every day, all day, to respond to as many emails as possible that come in asking us to save lives, knowing we can’t possibly save them all. Our episode in That Animal Rescue Show is what we see every day: the last minute life stories of animals who are facing deadlines because they are too young, too sick, too contagious, too scared, too nippy or just because there are too many animals to keep alive in another shelter. And they pour in. People would be blown away if they could see the desperation in the emails our teams receive from other cities followed by the Macgyver-esque moves that Katie makes to save dogs, the foster shuffling that Anna and the bottle baby nursery team does to save neonatal kittens, and the Jenga game that Kristen, Neil and Laura make to save cats with their teams.
The world should also see the Touched by an Angel-style show of the heart and soul relief given to people who plead for help and are answered, the staff that cares for these guys until a home is found, the foster families who line up to pick up a new foster fur baby and the volunteers who pour their hearts into walking and training, giving warm bedding, and ensuring that the pets eat.
The world should see the Grey’s Anatomy-like medical heroics that happen at our clinic. Dr. Bardzinski and her team say yes to the animals who have been mangled by cars or disease, the animals who have suffered neglect and malnutrition, the animals that seem beyond repair and they fix them. People likely don’t understand how hard it is to triage cases that challenging, day in and day out, but our team does it every single day, showing up again the next morning for more problem solving that will save lives.
You should see the APA! version of Shawshank Redemption, also known as the behavior team’s daily work. The dogs they try to save, who others have given up on before us, are some of the most challenging dogs in the country—and some are just wrongly accused, and simply misunderstood. Laura, Aaron and Sarah lead a team of amazing staff and volunteers who spend their days waiting for that little, almost imperceptible breakthrough when a dog lets them know they are getting it. The dogs begin to get that this is their last shot at life and if they can master not being a naughty pup, the world will open up for them. Okay, maybe they don’t get all that... But that glimmer in their eye, that their behavior is turning the corner back towards life and they have hope of a home outside the shelter, is what it is all about.
The world should see the Brady Bunch dramedy of the love, time and patience that goes into the weeks Anita and her team work on the cats who contract ringworm (a skin fungus), or other contagious disease, and then the ridiculously funny pleas for foster homes that are written with so much love it makes your heart ache. They should see both the stress and the devotion that Oliver, Allie, JoAnna, Gerri and so many more give into every cat that comes into our care, giving all that they have (every second!) to make sure these deserving felines have their shot at a forever home.
People should know the lifesaving acrobatics that Fathom and her team of volunteers and staff do to place catheters in legs with no blood pressure, revive hypoglycemic puppies, and force-feed sick dogs all in an effort to keep them alive until Parvovirus runs its course. The work is mindblowing, because it is also in a Contagion-like setting trying to prevent the spread of Parvo to the rest of the shelter.
To be honest, all of our programs and our people deserve their own spotlight. Our incredible foster program, neonatal kitten nursery, FeLV sanctuary… We could go on and on and on. It’s these people, caring for these pets, that inspire us every single day. And we are hopeful that their stories inspire you, too. If you can think of shows that match the internal workings of your favorite APA! program, please tell us what they are! Tweet us, post on our Facebook page, DM us on Instagram, email us. We want to hear from you.
We are so excited to share a little bit of our behind-the-scenes on That Animal Rescue Show. We cannot wait for you to see it.
To watch That Animal Rescue Show, head to CBS All Access here. If you’ve already seen our episode and are feeling inspired, we sure would love it if you could support our work so we can keep saving more lives.