Most everyone has a tug on their heart to do something outside of themselves to better the world around them.
My tug has always been animals.
I personally started my animal rescue adventures in 2002 when, within 2 months of buying my first house, I had two stray dogs show up at my house within 3 days. I already had a few “rescue” pets, but it was then that I started opening my eyes to the world of rescue.
Now for a sad story that changed my life. I use to work as a sales consultant for a party plan company. One night, I was at a home party in Anderson when a little puppy showed up on the hostess’ front porch. She believed in belonged to a neighbor and was going to feed it for the night so I left. I thought about that puppy the whole way home. Something kept telling me to turn around and get it, but I didn’t. The next day, I called to check in about business items, but as we were getting off the phone, I inquired about the pup. The hostess’ words broke me. She said “Jessica, I was hoping you wouldn’t ask. This morning as I was leaving for work, I fed it on the porch and then stopped by my mailbox as I was pulling out of the driveway. I didn’t see that it had ran under my car when I stopped and I accidentally ran it over.” My heart sank. I kept my composure and consoled her till I got off the phone. But once I hung up, I sobbed and wailed for a creature I had only met for a moment. I should have turned around.
Now, You can’t really make bargains with God, but that day, I did. I declared that if He put a tug on my heart to do something about a situation, I would not turn my back on it. In return, when it came time to let them go, I got to be them when they passed. Meaning, I didn’t come in to find a lifeless body. I get the opportunity to be with them for that last breath. Now, sometimes that has meant that I’ve gotten to them moments before their crossing; sometimes it has meant making tough decisions to end their suffering. It always means a lot of pain and tears, but I would never want them to do it alone.
After almost 10 years of independent rescue work. I started SAVED BY THE HEART in Summer of 2011. We focus on special needs pets, pets that have endured abuse/neglect, elderly animals, and pets needing surgeries. We also try to help pet owners in tough situations when we have the ability.
One of my favorite things to do is host fun, pet-friendly community events. We have some great partnerships that allow us to host events with businesses and organizations. We are thankful for each and every one.
In 2013, I attended my first national animal welfare conference. My intent was to learn a couple things to grow my little organization but I soon realized I was there for a greater purpose.
The outreach program Let’em Live Upstate was started in the Fall of 2013 and ran through 2018. LLU worked with rescues, businesses, and individuals to bring positive changes to animal welfare and save shelter pets in Upstate SC. The LLU team created, pushed, and started TNR Programs in area Counties, held multi-rescue adoption extravaganzas in Haywood Mall, and brought people together to advocate for animal protecting legislation all over SC.