Prayers For Pets

Feline friends relaxed in their hammocks beneath desks, slept on shelves and steps built along the walls or cozily wedged themselves underneath a filing cabinet. “Here at Hope for Life Rescue, animals can be animals, cats can be cats and dogs can be dogs,” Director Pauline Cushman says of the free-roam facility. Dogs are allowed free-roam privileges as well, with the exception of those sly cat chasers, of course.

On a late September day, I was greeted in a way we all dream about—puppies and kittens swarming me at the door. Hope Center housed 66 cats and 8 dogs on this particular day. Pauline was trying to figure a way to take in a dozen Chihuahuas rescued from a hoarding situation. Continuing to take in more animals is becoming rather difficult because of the limited space. Currently, they are maxed out, forcing them to turn away a handful of people on a daily basis.

Hope for Life Rescue receives an average of 75 emails a day. Most are from high-kill facilities inquiring of any open space, so there’s a short window for Pauline and her team to act before these animals are soon euthanized. What makes them unique is that they take the worst of the worst animals. Senior-aged, abused, neglected and those animals that are in need of severe medical procedures are the ones often found at the center.

After I walked a couple of the senior dogs around the block with Donna, Pauline’s assistant, we had some down time before the doors opened. I walked over to an enclosed room where I met the Jack Russell mix, Pumpkin, and her 12-week-old puppy, Pie. Pie looks like your average sweet, innocent puppy, but she and her mother had to be rescued from a horrible living situation—their paws became burned after they were confined to an asphalt patio. Someone made a call, and the dogs were then taken to a local shelter before coming to Hope for Life Rescue.

Dogs are immediately vetted with local veterinarians when they arrive. “We make a commitment to God to take care of a dog the way they’re supposed to get taken care of,” Pauline says. If a dog needs to be treated before being taken home, they’ll allow them to be adopted, then keep their commitment to cover the bill. Once approved as suitable pet owners, people are able to take an animal home for up to a week if they’re still on the fence. Their motto carries over to the open-ended adoption fees. “You just can’t place a price on them. We want people to give from their hearts.”

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Hope Center goes through 25 pounds of cat food a day and 400 pounds of litter per month, and $100,000 is spent each year on vet bills. Programs like their Hope’s Garden Resort & Boutique, a serene pet daycare and boarding facility, directly supports Hope Center. However, because they rescue an average of 500 animals a year, the need is far greater, and the funds to do so are hard to come by.

Amid all of the e-mails for animal rescues, there are quite a few prayer requests passed along as well. After all, prayer was how it all began. “I was never an animal person until I was saved by the grace of God,” Pauline says. During a pivotal heartbreak in Pauline’s life when she left the corporate world and a marriage behind, she began coming across animals who needed help, and her heart broke for them. Even though animals hadn’t been a part of her life before, she started rescuing animals independently. Seven years of prayers later, God opened the doors in 2002 and gave her the name: Hope for Life Rescue.

After spending the afternoon with Pauline, you’d assume she’d been around animals her whole life; she’s like a magnet for them. Cats rest in her lap, and a pair of puggle puppy siblings jump on her legs while she shares her story with me. Dedicating her life to the deed of giving back, Pauline is one of the warmest people you will ever meet with a passion for both animals and people that is simply contagious. “Life matters, period.” Pauline says. “God created all life, so animals’ lives matter, too.”

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