The critical thing with working for animals is the fact, that it actually means working with humans to make it possible in the first place.
Humans are difficult. Humans who understand and adore the animals are usually not huge philanthropists. Humans actively working in animal welfare often have their own, not always easy, vita which brought them to this topic to begin with. And I’m not saying that I’m an exception. But we all have to work together if we want to make this work, if we really mean it!
Of course you can have impact as a single person. But the one who is committed as a private person without an organisation is going to reach their limits after some time. Individuals cannot work so much, individuals cannot write contribution receipts, individuals often don’t have the much-needed financial backup on their own to help comprehensively. And if you really get into the topic, you do want to help more comprehensively, that’s for sure!
That’s why I did what I actually never wanted to do, I founded a society. This was 18 months ago and since then there hasn’t been a single day when I wasn’t exuberantly happy about what we have achieved so far, but haven’t cursed myself why I realized this stupid idea against every sense of my intuition. Because the price to pay was freedom.
Most of our society’s friends don’t even know who is behind the most of our activism, and even closed co-activists can only sense what it means to spin a wheel (a pretty cumbersome wheel) every day, 365 days a year, which becomes bigger every day. Hardly anyone can imagine, what it really means to lead a company whose customers (the hungry and sick animals) rely on the survival and functioning of this company whose employees can’t get compensated, who only show up for work because they want to and who could drop out any given day, which is something they do on a regular basis, and whose commitment for this company has to be scrounged, encouraged, hard won or aquired every day all over again. This is what the boss is doing.
In this case, the “boss” is me. A boss who is available 24/7 (and I really mean 24/7!). For 18 months, every day. Who has to supervise legal and fiscal requirements, is in contact with donors, partner organisations, activists, those who want to adopt an animal, foster homes, media, public authorities, sponsors, combatants, who has to jolly along everything and everyone and hold them in balance, who checks the publications, translates, creates, edits, shares, comments, replies and handles a thousand additional things seemingly in a breeze, which includes nearly everything from hauling heavy boxes to challenging negotiations with foreign customs. A boss who is positive, friendly, polite and balancing and simultaneously purposeful and resolute, or gives the best at all times, ….because each and every mistake costs either money, image, important allies or, even worse, animal’s lives. I am terrified of mistakes. Because that would mean that those who rely on me would have to suffer. I have to perform.
No money – no food, no money – no medical aid, no money – no way to respond to daily calls for help which are in the daily mail. So I deliver. Mostly it’s a lot of fun, because every time when I see an animal’s expression change from plain suffering to fullest satisfaction after being rescued, I am so happy and this joy never wears off. It’s quite the opposite…
I say thank you seemingly the whole day. Without a break. Everyone who contributes deserves this and it truly comes from my heart. Sometimes I can only be astounded at how much time, money and energy some of our combatants invest in this and I am almost ashamed about our donors’ generosity. I know how difficult it is for some and not maybe so difficult for others, so many pass up things, only to be able to help us and despite this I still have to ask every day anew for more of everything: more commitment, more money, because the wheel is getting bigger regularly and it has to work.
Most don’t know that I have to master a full-time job, too. A job which fortunately often leaves some time to do some things along the way. The stuff I can’t do during this time is handled in the evening and nighttime. My nights have become short. But still there are complaints if something is delayed, when mistakes happen or don’t get responded appropriately. I’m no machine, sometimes overly emotional, sometimes not informed enough, sometimes just… Me.
There wasn’t a single hostility, no defamation, no accusation, no malice, that hasn’t already been poured over me, because I do what I do, the way I do it. Instead of letting myself get tangled in destructive discussions, instead of publicly pulling apart those people with all their lies and presumptuousness, which, to be honest, is something I would like to do at times (and which is something I absolutely would be capable of with my rhetoric and temper), instead of all of this, I always subordinate my mental state, take a deep breath and think of all those who rely on me so much. It’s about the animals. Everything good for the society is good for them, too. Unfortunately that doesn’t automatically mean that it’s good for me. Everyone working with us, works for the animals, not for me. Sometimes I get the impression that this get’s confused.
Delegating is nice. Who knows a few things about legal requirements for societies also knows that the management is liable. Everyone else in the society can pull up their shoulders and say “Oops, sorry… I’m done.” and is gone for good. Not that this hasn’t happened before.
Comprehensive help needs steady structures. We have great people, we have the best ,
but there is some work and responsibility that can’t be delegated. I’m not only liable financially and legally, my name and image are connected too and many of the things that work, work because the people know that they can trust me, they know that their donations are spent thoughtfully and their work gets valued.
Meanwhile I think I know why many animal welfare organisations fail. Nearly all of them are at the mercy of a few responsible persons, they all know what I am writing about here and depending on how much suffering they can take or how persistent they are, soon the wheat separates from the chaff whereas in this case the “chaff”, all the warriors at the front who give up, have my fullest understanding.
Our society is on the cusp of really taking off, all the big goals are within reach. This means the marathon is just really starting, because everything up until now was just the warm-up. I reached my first goal. 18 months ago, we had nothing, no money, no supporters, no idea! Today there is a solid society with great supporters, good know-how and excellent reputation. I should be happy and so proud! But I am tired, simply infinitely tired, too and long for the times when I, too could simply say… ooops… I’m done…. when I didn’t like something or my interests and emphasis shifted. I can’t do this anymore without causing much damage and abandoning those in need of help. Sometimes that really scares me.
But tomorrow will be a new day and giving up no option… please see above.
(Thank you so much Luisa Mayr for translating this text!! Love you <3)