If I knew before hand that starting an animal rescue as an LLC would open up my life and character to the scrutiny and hateful comments of other well known rescues would I do it again? Honestly, knowing what I do now I probably wouldn't open a rescue at all.
When I was in college I dreamed of going to veterinary school to become a shelter veterinarian. Animal rescue was something that fascinated me, and was something I had been involved with from a young age. My neighbor, Glenda, was an avid animal rescuer and licensed wildlife rehabber specializing in falconry. I grew up on a farm, and I got involved at a local pet rescue and started fostering at 17 Years old.
As a child I would follow my dog around the fields as they dug up field mice and would rescue them before she would eat them. It seemed like animal rescue was in my blood.
When I reached college, I pursued pre-vet but wasn't the greatest student and the goal of vet School became far fetched.
My junior year I started working at a local pet store that sold puppies for thousands of dollars from "reputable" breeders. Outside of puppies, they sold guinea pigs, hamsters, reptiles, and fish. I quickly became aware of the injustices happening to animals in the pet store industry. How the care of an animal was sacrificed if it wasn't going to make them money. I was horrified. But felt like I couldn't leave because who would advocate for the animals?
I began rescuing the guinea pigs from the pet store and nursing them back to health then rehoming them. I did get fired for this, but did eventually get rehired. This lead me to rescuing hundreds of guinea pigs in the PNW and finding them homes. Eventually I approached the pet-store owners and asked if I could rent a room in their store to adopt out cats/kittens. I began rescuing cats and kittens from high kill shelters, and using my rental home's garage to nurse animals to health and adopt out guinea pigs.
Then COVID happened. And my vet internships were cancelled, school was online, and I had nothing to do. So I ramped up our rescue operations and began to fully think about what it would look like to pursue an animal rescue full time.
Then one day the rental home I was in was evicting us (not because of the animals in the garage), and the fate of my little rescue was on the brink of closing. But God. He provided a way when things seemed impossible and we signed a lease for a building in the heart of Newberg.
After 6 months of renovating we opened our doors. We were so excited and the response of the community was amazing. But the response of the rescue community was less than welcoming.
You see, the issue was that we were operating as an LLC. I understand why they would think we were an LLC to profit off animals. But what was missing from their judgment was establishing a relationship with me. Knowing my heart, my goals. And they would quickly understand that I would never sacrifice the care of an animals to put money in my pocket.
I started the rescue as an LLC simply because I had no idea what I was doing. I was 21 years old, finishing up college, had zero support from the rescue community, and no one to turn to for advice in running a non-profit. Would these rescues rather me set up a board of directors that are just yes-men with no concept of rescue, and don't care what I do for the sake of being a 501c3 non-profit? Because if I had started a non-profit in college my board would have included a friend of my dad, a college friend, and a co-worker. All who couldn't have cared less what I did. So I started the LLC because it was simple, and would allow me to learn the ins and outs of running a business, and how to run an animal rescue.
I will be the first to acknowledge that our first year of rescue was rough. We made so many mistakes, had bad policies, and failed many times. But we learned and grew, and found some amazing rescue organizations and individuals who came along side us, judgement free, to help us learn.
But as we were learning and growing, never did it cross my mind that I started this rescue because I wanted to profit off animals.
I knew that when I was ready to pursue becoming a 501c3, I wanted to have a board of directors who were passionate about animals and could provide advice and wisdom when needed. And now that we are a 501, I can confidently say I have a GREAT board of directors who are doing this simply for the love of animals.
As of today we have provided second chances for exactly 1,712 animals since December 2020.