BOP rescue organisations tired of being abused

Katrina Thompson and Sue Mackey give all of their spare time to the animals in their care. Photo: John Borren.

Volunteers at Bay of Plenty animal rescues are facing verbal abuse and harassment which makes the work they do even harder.

ARRC Wildlife Trust and Vada's Angels Animal Rescue spoke to The Weekend Sun to create awareness about what they are facing.

Katrina Thompson runs Vada’s Angels Animal Rescue with a friend and they stopped using a phone for the rescue because of the abuse they were facing.

They only communicate with people through email and Facebook and even that has its challenges. 

If people don’t hear back quickly they often get angry and abusive, she says.

The rescue mainly works with dogs from pounds that have been there too long and are due to be euthanised so they are on the road a lot and not always able to respond immediately.

Recently they had rescued a dog from a pound and discovered he had a tumour, they had to make the difficult decision to end his life.

While this was happening someone donated money but because they didn’t hear back “quickly enough” they sent angry messages claiming the rescue didn’t care about the animals and demanded a refund.

Katrina say the opposite is true because they were all crying over this poor dog’s death and they refunded the money as requested.

“We were already in not great head spaces for ourselves and to walk out to that, it was heart breaking.”

Katrina says they get abusive messages at least twice a week and she tries to shield her volunteers and foster careers from this because they need their help to run the rescue and they don’t deserve that kind of treatment.

“We are putting a lot into what we do and it's a tough job.”

ARRC manager Sue Mackey says people forget that they’re all volunteers and have jobs or are caring for animals so can’t be there immediately to collect birds. They need to be bought to the centre and left in a drop off cage if it’s after hours.

The most recent case of abuse they faced was someone threating to kill a waxeye bird that had flown into his house unless they went out to rescue it. She says in that case people just need to open windows and wait for the bird to leave.

Recently Sue was also harassed by someone wanting to drop off a bird after hours, she had been asked to leave the bird in the cage but waited close to an hour then called and said they don’t care about the bird and should be doing things differently.

Now these might seem like minor things to deal with but when people are already stretched because of the number of animals they’re caring for the harassment takes an emotional toll.

Katrina has 15 dogs at home and Sue takes the same number of birds home to feed as well as fielding after hours calls.

Both Sue and Katrina say for the most part people are patient and follow instructions but there are some unreasonable people.

They want people to have empathy and think about things from the volunteers’ perspective rather than getting caught up in a moment and reacting badly.

“Treat everyone with kindness, there's a lot of work going on behind the scenes. We treat everyone with kindness so we expect the same in return,” says Sue.

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What kind of person...

Posted on 29-11-2020 15:14 | By morepork

...abuses a voluntary organization because there is a bird in his house? Is it rocket science to open the windows? If the bird was hurt, there may be a case, but there is never a case for abusing people who are doing their best. I feel privileged if I find a bird in the house and I speak softly to it and try to appear non-threatening. The poor little thing is terrified enough. Open the doors and windows and gently try to coax it to an exit. Usually it is a 5 minute process, certainly no cause for a rising temper and abusive phone call.


Posted on 29-11-2020 15:07 | By morepork

You volunteer for something because you care about it. The work is its own reward. Don’t expect other people to see the value in what you are doing or to extend the kindness and courtesy that you offer, back to you. Don’t let the ignorance of some people stop you from what you are doing; overcoming it is part of the job. Let it be water off a duck’s back and stay focused on the real reason you are there: to help the animals. You make it clear what the rules are about late drop-offs etc. and you don’t get into arguments about it. If people don’t like the rules, that is not your problem; you are doing your best. NEVER return abuse or discourtesy or get into a "slanging match"... The majority of us support you 100%. Stay focused on birds and animals; forget about the idiots.


Posted on 29-11-2020 14:55 | By morepork

You said it perfectly!

Twice a week!

Posted on 29-11-2020 12:41 | By

Two cases of verbal abuse is actually extremely low Ask anyone in the hospitality industry how that rates. As for the abusers - you can’t fix stupid