Animal Rescue Illinois
"Strawberry Fields is a foster based, senior animal rescue.
We serve the greater Chicagoland area and south east Wisconsin."
Strawberry Fields is a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit animal rescue.
All donations are tax deductible.
Illinois Department of Agriculture License # 087-15190
What is the new mission, why did the mission change,
and why did it change now?
Strawberry Fields Animal Rescue:
A New Mission and Vision
What Is The New Mission and Vision?
The Big Picture
Presently the majority of the animal welfare community focuses on just helping animals in need of rescue.
If we choose to help the animal in need, but neglect to look at what's going on in the life of the owner then we aren't even beginning to look at the entire picture.
Animal in need + entire family unit= BIG PICTURE
We must look at both sides of the equation. The big picture is looking at the entire family unit and then asking ourselves what can we do to help? That includes animal welfare professionals and our communities as a whole.
Strong bonds between people and pets make for stronger communities.
We have to step back and look at the BIG PICTURE and then actually reach out and say, "What can I (or we) do to help you?"
After all, isn't if FAR PAST TIME we stop trying to paint everybody with a broad brush.
Dedicated animal welfare professionals continually study and publish data regarding pet surrender. As a result of their work we are better able to understand the reasons behind pet relinquishment.
Pet surrender is NOT a black and white issue.
The challenging and often complex circumstances that may cause an animal to lose their homes may include the following (but aren't limited to):
a pet owner becoming ill
lack of affordable and accessible vet care
shortage of pet friendly housing.
Looking at the entire family unit doesn’t mean taking the animal out of focus. However, it's imperative to understand the people and the community connected to the animal to make our work effective and successful.
A vital aspect of helping people is trying to keep them from resisting or refusing critical services for themselves. Pet owner's refusing services, such as mental health or addiction help, happens often. The reason being; a beloved pet may be the only family a person has and it may be very scary saying "yes" to help, when they don't trust what will happen to their pets.
It's time we start providing support resources for pets and pet owners in order to address ROOT CAUSES.
Human Animal Support Services
Providing support services that may help pet owners keep their pets, when it is best for the animal to remain in his or her home, has become a a priority for Strawberry Fields Animal Rescue.
This approach allows shelters and rescue groups to focus their sheltering and rehoming services on animals most in need.
The ultimate goal is to empower pet owners and provide valuable resources in the hope that one day they won't need us at all.
Presently. there is a deep divide among the animal welfare industry and pet owners.
That divide comes from a place of judgement and a lack of empathy toward fellow pet owner's facing hardship.
Pets are part of the family unit and an important part of our community structure. Caring for them and keeping them safe is OUR collective responsibility.
Keeping families together centers around the idea that people who love their pets should NOT have to be separated from them due to life circumstances BEYOND their control.
We MUST begin to offer support services designed to preserve and honor the human-animal bond.
It's time to reduce judgment of families in crisis.
It's important for the animal welfare community to create a NONJUDGEMENTAL dialogue with pet owners in order to solve the problems that led them to the shelter or rescue in the first place.
The future of animal welfare is a community model.
Animals will be sheltered in private homes.
Barriers to adoption will continue to be lowered.
Volunteers and staff will continue to be repurposed for better adoption counseling, customer service, and behavior consulting.
Re-home will continue to grow in importance, as will other types of intake intervention.
As we lessen the burden on shelters, not only will they reap the benefits, but animals will as well. As a result, we have a blueprint for the next iteration of animal welfare in this country.
Why Did We Shift Our Mission?
Strawberry Fields is still a new, small organization. We believe that no matter the time an organization is operating or the size of an organization that it's vital the people behind the mission are keeping a close watch on what's going on in the sector. This is especially true when it comes to saving the lives of shelter animals. It's vital our organization is ready to pivot when needed.
For decades efforts to solve issues in animal welfare were founded in the belief that the public was negligent or ignorant and the solution centered around legislating behavior, instituting punishment combined with having to educate an uncaring or ignorant public. This negative attitude towards the public led animal sheltering to adopt strict rules, policies, catch, and kill tactics for animal control and other policies that really reinforced an us versus them attitude. It begins with those of us in animal welfare to recognize that community members are part of the solution.
Community members are the solution as opposed to the problem.
Why Did the Mission Change Now?
A real shift needs to take place when it concerns how animal welfare professionals talk about people, especially vulnerable populations, like low-income individuals and communities of color. The value of people and their pets need to be recognized on an equal level.
Marginalized communities and people with lower incomes deserve animals as much as wealthy people, and yet, that has not been the way that shelters and rescues typically have worked.
Often times we have been in such a reactive mode that we haven't focused enough time and attention on the proactive piece. This reactive mode happens because lives are at stake but the proactive piece is actually solving the problems that lead animals to coming into the system.
What does it look like to rethink how we support communities and families with pets?
Are we supporting the welfare of animals when we remove them from a lower-income area and then transfer them to a higher-income area for adoption? Is it right to view something as cruelty or write a citation if assistance or resources may be better for the animal and the pet owner?
Strawberry Fields has decided to adopt the humane and cost-effective Human Animal Support Services model—prioritizing supportive services that keep human-animal families together and pets out of shelters.
Strawberry Fields is a new, small organization but we believe that no matter the time an organization is operating or the size, it's vital that the people behind the mission are keeping a close watch on what's going on in the sector, especially when it comes to saving the lives of shelter animals.
It begins with those of us in animal welfare as well, as the public, to recognize that community members are part of the solution. They are the solution as opposed to the problem.
For decades efforts to solve issues in animal welfare were founded in the belief that the public was negligent or ignorant and the solution centered around legislating behavior, instituting punishment combined with having to educate an uncaring or ignorant public. This negative attitude towards the public led animal sheltering to adopt strict rules, policies, catch, and kill tactics for animal control and other policies that really reinforced an us versus them attitude.
The community supported sheltering model invites community members to play a more prominent role in saving lives. This model allows the shelter to focus on the animals who need the most help - those with urgent medical needs or behavioral challenges. For people who think they need to surrender their pet, this new model does away with the “no questions asked” surrender process. People can often keep their pets if we start a conversation and work with them to solve the problems that led to the shelter in the first place.
Keep Up With Important Topics In Animal Welfare
Take some time to read from the sections below!
Both Ends of the Leash
The animal welfare community and the human welfare community are really doing the same work, just for opposite sides of the leash. The biases over who should and shouldn't own pets still exist. There's no doubt about that, but the conversation has changed and now more than ever as a movement, we're coming to grips with the fact that pet ownership isn't only for the privileged few.
The Human-Animal Bond
The human-animal bond transcends all, regardless of where someone lives, their race, or how much they have in their bank account - pet ownership is for everyone. It’s a concept that is gaining more and more acceptance across animal welfare, and it has brought new approaches to keep people and pets together to the forefront.
Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
So much of what we do in animal welfare is built on discriminatory practices. We do not adopt to lists of people that we don't think are adequate homes, background checks, the way we speak to people, the way that we virtually chase people out of the shelter when we don't think they're adequate, or we don't like how they have talked, it goes on and on. And then the way we treat people who do have to surrender their animals.
Judging Pet Owners
There is a person behind every pet and as pet owners we all start somewhere.
As far as judgment goes it doesn't tend to be very productive — and there’s a big difference between a genuine desire to educate, set an example, and maybe plant some seeds versus wanting to feel superior or unfairly gate-keep.
Every shelter animal is an individual and everyone of them have a story but so do the pet owners.
One Health Integration
One Health Integration focuses on highlighting the Human-Animal Bond (HAB) when considering how to best support the health and well-being of humans, animals, and their communities. To achieve the best outcome for people, animals, and the environment in a shared ecosystem we need to offer successful public health interventions with cooperation between professionals in all three sectors.
Pet Mutual Aid
As our industry moves more and more toward a community-based model, we can see how animal welfare readily fits into this vision. Heather Own from Chicago's own One Tail At A Time said “It used to be that we would never ask anyone if we could help them keep their animal because the people who coming in to surrender them were bad people. We subscribed to the industry wide notion that people who couldn’t afford pets shouldn’t have them.”