Carole Pitzer assists animals in need
By Brendan Quealy
Carole Pitzer describes herself and the group of women who make up the Coalition for Animal Rescue and Education (CARE) as “a bunch of short, dumpy gray-haireds.” But to the animals they rescue every day—these women are so much more.
When people are experiencing a financial, emotional, or other kind of hardship, this dedicated group is there to help with animal rescue services, as well as pet medical assistance and spay/neuter programs. “We have been rescuing dogs and cats from Jefferson County since 2004,” Pitzer says. “It’s an extremely low-income county with a poverty rate around 30 percent. People can’t even feed their kids right now, so we get a lot of phone calls asking us to take their dog.”
CARE carefully assesses each situation before removing a pet from the home. If the only issue is an animal not being fed, the organization is more than happy to provide food. But if the situation is beyond a simple fix, the family may be encouraged to relinquish the pet. If necessary, CARE brings in the Animal Control Division to take charge of the situation. “Most of the folks in this area are poor and on a limited income,” Pitzer says. “Our typical phone call that we get is: ‘My husband lost his job. We lost the house. We’re leaving the dog here.’”
CARE has even found homes for cows, horses, pigs, and other animals who were left behind. When families are forced to evacuate their homes due to foreclosure, it is not uncommon to discover animals who are left to fend for themselves.
Understanding the importance of the human-animal bond, CARE does whatever it can to keep people and their pets together. Many times that means helping women in abusive relationships leave their homes safely with their beloved pets in tow. Research from national animal welfare organizations reveals that when there is abuse in the home, animals are almost always victims, too. “A lot of women will not leave because they are afraid their dog or cat will be killed. Sometimes the husband will even kill [their pet] right in front of them,” Pitzer says. “[It makes] you wonder who the real animal is.”
CARE is about keeping people and their animals together. Much of the group’s time and energy is directed towards working with senior citizens to figure out a way for them to keep their pets—often the only family they have left. “We will help them with whatever they need—food, veterinary care. All we ask is that they [contribute] as best they can,” Pitzer says. CARE relies on the generosity of the community to accomplish their goals. They accept monetary donations as well as contributions of pet food and supplies.
“This is all volunteer. No one here is on salary,” Pitzer says. “These people here are just wonderful. They come in day in and day out, and work like champions because we want the next animal [who] comes in here to get a second chance.”
Visit CaretakersNetwork.org to learn more!