What is GoFundMe?Fundraising made easy >>
You are probably wondering why you are seeing this long “blog” rather than a website for animals in need. It is because after working almost half of my life in the rescue field, and making Pets In Need Animal Rescue what it is today, I have been ousted as the President of the group. This happened a couple months ago, and I am finally getting the courage to share my side, and hope to get the word out, to help me gain control of the rescue I have devoted my heart and life to. Please continue to read on to hear my story:
Some of you know me, some of you have heard of me, some may not know who I am. My name is Keri Demers, and I started “Pets In Need Animal Rescue” back in 1997. Back then I was working at Wignall Animal Hospital in Dracut, where I still work to this day. Wignall was the pound for the Dracut Animal Control. At the time the animals would come in, and sit there for a while until someone adopted them, or a rescue would take them.
All of my life I had a dream to work with animals, in fact, I always wanted to work at “that animal hospital up on the hill”, which was actually Wignall Animal Hospital! As a child, I wanted to be a veterinarian, but, as I grew older and understood what exactly that meant, I knew I didn’t have what it took emotionally. Even though I loved animals and wanted to work with them, I could never euthanize an animal, and it would upset me too much to see sick or hurt animals.
I ended up going to school for Animal Care, and graduated with an Associate Degree, then went on to get a Veterinary Technician Degree. While pursuing that degree is when I started working at Wignall, and then decided, that too, would be too emotional for me! So I dropped out, with just the one degree.
One day shortly after I started working at Wignall, we had a staff meeting where we decided someone needed to step up for the animals, and actively find them homes, so they were not sitting in cages longer than they had to. At that meeting I was nominated to be that person.
At the time, the rescue was called “Wignall Adoption”. I made a list of “no-kill” shelters and rescues and contacted them all and told them what my goal was, and some of them agreed to work with me. Every time an animal came in, that was not claimed, I would bring these animals to the rescue groups, some 2-3 hours away, to help them find their forever homes. I did this all by myself.
As time went on, the rescue groups I had been working with started to become full with their own animals they were trying to help. I was finding it harder and harder to find safe places for these homeless animals to go. I had to find new ways to help these babies find safe places to go!
That is when I turned to the internet, and found PetFinder.com. I started posting the animals on this site, and through the help of the internet got the word out there that these animals needed a place to go. I also found people, like me, who wanted to help with the animals, and open up their homes to help them.
Shortly after this, is when I changed the name to Pets In Need. I was devoting so much of my own personal time to this “project” that I felt I wanted it to be more of my own. Eventually the state required all rescue groups to become legal, and registered with the state, and be officially 501c3. With the people who I could trust and were my friends I opened up the rescue to let others in and have more control.
Things continued to progress from there! We acquired PetCo in Nashua as an adoption center, and took over a small shelter in Somerville. Then shortly after we acquired PetCo in Amherst, Nh. I was traveling to all of these locations 2-3 times a week, while working a 40 hour work week at the animal hospital and a 2nd job on the weekends. I even missed family events and birthdays to help find these animals homes. My family is always very supportive of me so they understood.
After a couple more years go by, in 2010, we acquired PetSmart in Chelmsford. Around this time, I was starting to get burnt out, but was ecstatic that the rescue was growing so well! My family and friends helped me with the shifts of taking care of the animals until volunteers were found to take over the shifts. Some days I would get up at 5am to go to the store to feed and clean the animals before going to work a 10 hour day at the animal hospital. It was a lot of work, and stressful, but I did it for the animals. It was what made me happy in life.
Finally, the day came. In 2012 the rescue was offered an actual “shelter”! My dream was finally coming true! Imaging the animals we could save with a shelter facility. But I was so drained, burnt out. I couldn’t take on anything else, but also didn’t want to lose this opportunity. At this point, the people that were working with me, stepped up and helped to manage that shelter. They were the contact and found the volunteers to take care of the animals etc.
At this time, I started backing out of doing so much, because I was just exhausted and had spent so much of my life devoting time to the animals. Even though they made me happy, and completed me. I just needed time to myself. I didn’t want to stop what I was doing, just take a step back.
This, I feel is when the trouble started. The other volunteers, most of who had not been there for the long haul, did not know all that I had done for the last 15 or so years, mostly by myself. They only saw that I was not doing as much as “I was supposed to do”, especially being “in charge” of the rescue. This cause hostility, and resentment.
I tried to get back to being more involved with the rescue, but at this time, there was some hostility between myself and these volunteers. Although we tried to work through it, it was a very hostile situation, and somewhat uncomfortable at times.
After these volunteers made one of my good friends uncomfortable, and accused her of stealing kittens, and even getting the police after her, that was what put me over the edge. I didn’t want to work with a rescue like this, one that treated their volunteers this way, or people in general this way! So I said I was no longer working with them.
However, after calming down, and thinking about it more… I started this rescue! I know it’s an “organization” now, but I started it, I helped to make it what it is today. Why should *I* be the one to step down!? So I told them so, and decided to continue on, and attempt to work through it.
These volunteers thought otherwise though. They wanted me out, they were on a power trip, and felt I was not fit anymore. They even went as far as to accuse me of taking money from the animals! At the time, I panicked, as I do with everything I’m being accused of. I have a guilty conscious, and I was, in fact, in charge of the money. I frantically looked everywhere for this “missing” money. I even said I had it somewhere, because I should right!? Well this money was left at our shelter facility, where all of the volunteers had access to, and was open to the public on the weekends. After speaking with close friends, and calming down, I realized that this was just a ploy to get me out of the rescue. They now had something to hold against me! They even got the police after me! Of course the police did not do anything, because there was not enough evidence.
My point to all of this is. I would like to get control of the rescue I started almost 20 years ago. I feel that there is a void in my life, something missing. My purpose in life is to save animals. Yes, I could start another rescue; But is it really fair that I be the one to start over, when I have already devoted so much of my time and life to this one? Just because some people, for whatever reason, felt the need to take over, and kick me out?
They have threatened me with a letter from their lawyer, and I have retaliated with a letter from my lawyer. But it’s been a couple months now, and nothing has changed. They are continuing on with the rescue, the rescue that I started.
With the letter, I am hoping to get my side of the story out, and hope to get people to understand what I have been going through, and what I have devoted to this rescue. I would so very much like to continue doing what I love, and helping the rescue continue to grow, and I need your help.
I am still working two jobs to support myself, and I have no extra money for a lawyer. If any of you could find it in your heart to help me get the rescue back, I would forever be indebted to you
Thank you so much for hearing my side,
Founder of Pets In Need Animal Rescue Inc.