Featured Volunteer – Polly-Anna

Polly-Anna is the kind of foster that every little rescue like Zoe’s needs: experienced, dedicated, and ready to take on the tough cases that many have deemed hopeless. Polly-Anna specializes in rehabilitating cats and dogs with serious behavioural issues. She began rescuing in her early twenties, when her truck-driving husband would bring home strays he found dumped on the road. She would take them in, shine them up, and rehome them, all out of her own pocket. “And here I am, 25 years later, still loving the pure joy of working with animals, and the amazing transformations these animals go through.”

Although Polly-Anna has spent most of her rescue years working solo, when she became aware of all the rescues in Edmonton, she thought that one of them just might be a perfect fit. “I thought, I can foster, do what I love doing, and not worry about the expenses that come with it.” Looking at the variety of rescues, she discovered that each was a little different. Why Zoe’s? “Their beliefs were compatible with my own … and as the year has gone by, I feel really good about my choice.”

When asked what her most challenging rescue experience was, one particular case came to mind. “I get so many people who tell me a dog is aggressive, and most of the time, it’s a case of misunderstanding or lack of training.” Only one rescue, in 25 years, was unable to adjust to life with humans. “I beat myself up when I have to make a logical decision on an animal,” she confesses. But sometimes the logical decision is the right one for the animal’s own health. “I worked on her for the six month period I give aggressive dogs. I sought outside help, I made many efforts with her. But I ended up euthanizing her to give her peace.”

This is the kind of story that would-be fosters fear: the unfixable animal that makes you feel like a failure. Yes, there are downs to rescue. But Polly-Anna would say that the ups far outweigh them. To her, rescuing is a comforting – and even healing – process. “I’ve always had my own dogs who pulled me through some pretty rough times in my life. Now I help rescues pull through their rough times, and help them to become balanced and happy again.” Watching animals let go of their pasts reminds her to keep her own in perspective. “I have to live by it,” she says simply.

To those who still aren’t convinced of the immense benefits of fostering, Polly-Anna has this reminder: “you have the choice to find what works best for your needs. If you don’t have a whole a lot of time, your option could be senior cats or dogs. If you have lots of time, then puppies. If you have the abilities, care for those with medical needs. And with Zoe’s, you have a full team to support you, and no one is left alone. We’re all volunteers doing the best we can do.”