Rescue? Oh, It Means What I Want it to.

Yesterday I asked you what you thought it means to “rescue” an animal. Your responses were all across the board.

rumpy is cute
Obligatory cute photo

Some tweeted to me that caring for a new pet is rescue. Others think that adopting from a shelter that could kill the animal is a rescue. And yes, some of you believe you rescue an animal when you buy from a puppy mill.

So what’s the takeaway for me? Simply this:

Rescue is not something we do for the welfare of animals. Rescue is something we do to make ourselves feel better.

If rescue is all about some badge of honor WE wear, then it’s not really about helping animals at all, is it? 

25 thoughts on “Rescue? Oh, It Means What I Want it to.

  1. How about the way our pets rescue us 🙂 ..mine have rescued me from life of self centredness..and have taught me more about myself and the world than I ever thought I could learn 🙂 you look very adorable btw Rumpy 🙂 hugs Fozziemum

  2. Such a beautiful photo! It’s interesting because this is an idea I’ve never really consciously thought much about. Though obviously it’s been going through my mind somewhere because I know that when people tell me how kind I am for “rescuing” my beautiful little blind kitten (now fully grown glorious ratbag of a cat), I feel rather uncomfortable with this idea because it makes me sound like some selfless martyr, when the truth is that I am as lucky to have Oscar as he is to have me. But then again an animal being loved and cared for is a pretty special thing so I guess no matter the circumstances, that is what being a rescued animal means, but at the same time their humans are still just as rescued by them.

  3. Spot on Rumpy….we do things because we feel and we do things because they make us feel better… I think we need to be careful about the words we use. ‘Rescue’ denotes a victim. How about we offer care and nuture to our furry friends, and they offer unconditional love and company in return. It is all about love. 🙂

  4. Yep, my pets have rescued me from a life of complete boredom. They have rescued me from watching a TV show from start to finish without letting someone in or out at least once. They have rescued me from a perfectly clean house (what’s that hairball doing there). Life would be dull without them. BTW I didn’t rescue Morgan my one-eyed cat. She rescued me and my older pets who were all getting too sedentary about life.

  5. YEP.
    This is an EXCELLENT summary of how the term is misused.
    Remember the Friends episode where Phoebe tries to prove to Joey that there’s no truly selfless act? (
    There may be something to that, but I don’t think there’s anything wrong with feeling good about donating, volunteering, fostering, adopting, etc. If they weren’t at least a little enjoyable, people probably wouldn’t continue to do them.
    HOWEVER, there’s a big difference between enjoying something and pride and arrogance about something, and using it to prop yourself up against other people. Or misusing terminology to make yourself feel better. Huge difference.

  6. You look lovely on the picture Rumpy! Thank you very much for giving us the opportunity to think of “what rescue means”, which was interesting to listen to what other people think!

  7. I totally disagree. I still think the word is a valid definition of removing an animal from neglect, abuse or death, and I don’t think it has entirely to do with how we want to see ourselves but what we’ve done for those animals. If that was the definition, then I could have taken in hundreds of animals rather than the dozens I did and called them all rescues instead of focusing on the ones I knew would be dead otherwise, or saved my time and money and just adopted them all from shelters when killing rates were 95% and I could get them for free.

    For those of us not only picking up cats off the road and trapping in city and rural areas before they’re killed by animal control or some 11-year-old with a BB gun–or legally shot by the state police–as well as wresting them out of the hands of #$%^%!! nutcases who use gumbands on a kitten’s testicles to neuter him at home or take all the cats from a home where they are freely interbreeding and being sold on craigslist with no veterinary care for $25 each so people could buy their meth, rescue is something that’s done very much for the animals. It’s shocking how much of this still needs to happen in order to keep animals from abuse and death, far more than there are fake rescues.

    If we humans like the label, it’s also on the backs of the people who adopt from “rescues” to investigate what that “rescue” does. I think people fall just as much for the selling point of “rescue” as they did for puppy mill dogs in pet stores, not looking into either practice and just being a consumer.

  8. Well made, good point. The ultimate responsible answer is, take “me” out of the equation and what’s in the animal’s best interest? A lot of times, it’s grueling, exhausting, expensive, not too much fun, nor even rewarding (depending on the severity of the situation). But, yes, when it’s done for the welfare of the animal, when an animal is rescued, a little piece of my heart expands. Thanks Fumpy.

  9. We rescued each other. At some point in my life I found myself in a depression and if it wasn’t for my pack I would have probably gone crazy. They helped me and I helped them. For me I think of the animals well being even above my own. I feed them before I eat and I buy their food before I go grocery shopping for myself. I can say that I put my packs well being before my own every day.

    Every one has their own reason for rescuing or adopting, the thing we have to remember is that it is a long commitment of caring for them once we do give them a home.

  10. Actually I don’t agree that it’s all about the person who does the rescuing/adopting. Diid I feel good about rescuing/adopting the dogs from a cage in a shelter rather buying a dog in a pet store or from a breeder? Absolutely. I felt very good. However, did I not also save those dogs from a life in a shelter or no life because there is no room in a no-kill and the dogs must go to a kill-shelter?

    I think it’s semantics. No matter what you call, one way or another you are giving an animal love, food and a good home.

    Juliet said it best in Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet when she said
    “What’s in a name? that which we call a rose
    By any other name would smell as sweet”

    (Okay, I taught English in a high school for 15+ years.)

  11. I would think the majority are looking out for the welfare of the animal and not to be recognized as some kind of hero or something.. It’s in our hearts to care for and nurture. People need to be rescued from drowning, from fires, and so much more. If I see a starving cat, dog or person, I will provide food. I needed to be rescued from myself several times in life and God made a point of showing me that.. Anyway God bless all that care for the neglected and the abused. We are imperfect people trying to make a difference in someway…

  12. Hmmm me wantz to say me waz resckued in da true sense of da werd! Me WAZ a victim of Puppy Mill peeple n eben when me waz found wanderin after me waz thrown out me waz still used to breed….when me got sick again da peeple were gonna put me to sleep! Da Vet told dem what waz wrong n dey REEFUSED me da care n meddycashum me needed!!
    Me waz on me way to beein PUT TO SLEEP fer no other reeson den beein sick…
    When Mum got da email ’bout me she came to see me n da rest iz history…bemember no one told her how sick me waz!
    When she got me to Vet’z n all da testz dun n Mum called da peeple who had me n she asked many questshunz n da truth came out….well she deecided to keep deespite da cost of me care…she made a choice to lub me n give me a grrrreat life…
    Did she do it fer herself?? NOPE! Cause she cuud have just put me to sleep ’cause she had no xtra green papurrz; instead she cut back on her stuff fer ME!!!
    So me not fink she do it fer herself butt fer me…
    So dat iz what me finkz!
    Yer furend Nylablue =^,,^=
    A grrrreatfull kitteh in Canada

  13. I just published a post this morning, after which one of your readers turned me on to your blog because of the parallel topics. Fabulous! Clearly, we’ve had the same thoughts running through our heads. “Rescue is not something we do for the welfare of animals. Rescue is something we do to make ourselves feel better.” Absolutely brilliant!

    And considerably more succinct than my long-winded thoughts on the subject:

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