Tails of Rescue 1 Charlie

Tails of Rescue 1 Charlie

Posted 2018-04-16 by Liz Bradenfollow
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I rescued and rehabilitated a lot of animals in my 20 years of freelance animal rescue, and I dedicated six years of service to the RSPCA prior to going freelance in my rescue work. I started there as a kennel hand at the tender age of 11 (back in the good old days when such a young child could sign up for volunteer work) and quickly worked my way up to apprentice handler.

The very first animal that I rehabilitated was a dog that nobody could get near, and the RSPCA officers who had signed me up just two weeks before only allowed me to attempt it so that they could laugh at the little kid with a big ego.

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It wasn’t ego. I just knew I could get near her, and so they left me to it and said I had half an hour while they had their lunch, and if I hadn’t been able to touch her before then she was to be captured and euthanised.

They left, I sat down in the corner and ignored the dog, the dog got curious, I let her climb into my lap, scratched her back and then her belly, and then carried her in to the lunch room and watched their jaws drop. Meh. I understand animals, it’s people that confuse me.

So the boss took me under her wing and commenced my training as a rescuer, and over the next six years I learned everything from safe handling and how to read a dog, right through to how to patch up wounds and identify signs of pain that weren’t immediately obvious.

I left the RSPCA in 1998, aged 17, after assisting with a euthanasia for the first time. It was a young and healthy dog that had been signed over for euthanasia because the owners were moving and “couldn’t bear” the thought of her living with anyone else, and so the law required us to kill her.

I was done. I had spent six years learning how to heal, and now I learned that staying there meant I also had to kill. Nope.

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Six months passed and I was living independently, next to a psychopathic cat-hating thing that loosely identified as a “man”. He had a history of torturing any cats within his reach, and so when he came around one morning holding a scrap of a kitten by the neck and demanding to know if it was mine, I said,
“No, but I’ll take her.” I knew that leaving her with him was a death sentence.

Little did I know it at the time, but that kitten kicked me off with my freelance rescue work. I hadn’t intended to get into it, but here was a small kitten, barely weaned, that needed help. I had skills and experience, so I helped her.

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I named the little black and white kitten “Charlie” after the main character in “Firestarter”, and set to work on getting her healthy. She was thin and weak but extremely friendly and quick to show affection. She deserved a chance.

I spent a couple of weeks feeding her small, regular meals, while giving her all the attention I could. I introduced her to my dog, who decided very quickly that she was Charlie’s mother. I got her vet work done after talking to my new vet about her. He had only just opened a few months before and was happy to get on board with it, and set me up with an account. I litter-trained her, I got her coat beautiful, and she took to riding around on my shoulder.

Transforming Charlie from a weak and unwanted kitten into a young and healthy cat was so satisfying that I kept doing it. By the time Charlie was 8 months old I had a house full of cats, kittens, puppies, and dogs in various stages of getting well, and then I heard about a lady who was devastated after the death of her much-loved elderly cat.

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I realised that it was time to let Charlie go, and she set the precedent for how the rehousing would look thereafter. I got in contact with the lady and spoke to her about Charlie. I described Charlie’s personality and history, and I decided that I would not charge a fee; the lady was not well off, but she had plenty of love to give. Three days later Charlie went to her new home, and my journey of rescue, rehabilitate, and rehouse had begun.

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