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Strawberry Fields
Animal Rescue Illinois
Mission, Vision and Values

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Mission

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Vision

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Principles & Values

Our mission is to provide refuge for senior animals and animals needing hospice care. We aim to provide education, assistance and support to the public to help people better understand and care for their companion animals. We do more than

rescue, we DRIVE change.

We focus on helping the most vulnerable animals; senior animals, those near the end of life and the sick. Our vision is a world where all vulnerable animals get to live out their lives in a loving home to receive the care they need.  We strive to support this vision by:

  • Creating a robust network of foster caregivers to provide loving care to vulnerable animals in a home environment.

  • Building a center or sanctuary to support the needs of vulnerable animals – to provide needed shelter and veterinary care in a comfortable low-stress setting

  • Developing a hospice care program with a network of trained foster caregivers.

  • Providing a sizable resource network as well as an extensive outreach program for pet owners in underserved communitites.

  • Our policies must reflect the complementary goals of keeping pets and their people together, reuniting lost pets with their families, and finding new homes for pets who have lost theirs.  

  • We treat potential adopters respectfully and never discriminate against them based on race, ethnicity, sexual orientation or financial circumstances.

  • We want to ensure that our own attitudes and actions do not create further obstacles for struggling pet owners. We should treat people with dignity and respect, no matter what their financial or life circumstances look like.

  • We suspend judgment and inherent bias and make sure that we do not allow people’s appearance, ethnicity, manner, language of speech, or attire influence our judgment about their ability or desire to care for their pets.

  • Our policies demonstrate our commitment to these principles by ensuring that our volunteers are representative of the communities we serve and that our programs engage with and include those communities in a meaningful way.

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More On SFAR's Mission and  Vision

Root Causes

  • It's time to look at the big picture when it comes to animal welfare. If we choose to help an animal in need, but neglect to look at what's going on in the life of the owner then we aren't getting down to the root cause of pet overpopulation.

  • Animal in need + entire family unit= BIG PICTURE

  • We must begin to look at the entire family unit and then ask ourselves what can we (or I) do to help? 

  • Strong bonds between people and pets make for stronger communities. 

  • It's PAST TIME we stop trying to paint everybody with a broad brush.

Taking A Closer Look At Pet Surrender

  • 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):

  • poverty

  • unexpected emergencies

  • 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.

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Why Did the Mission Change?

  • It's vital that the people behind the mission are keeping a close eye on what's going on in the animal welfare 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 to changing these old belief systems.

  • Community members are the solution as opposed to the problem.

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Why Did the Mission Change Now?

Rethinking How We Look At Vulnerable Populations

  • A real shift needs to take place when it concerns how animal welfare professionals talk about people, especially vulnerable populations.

  • Vulnerable populations may include 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. 

Food for Thought

  • What does it look like to rethink how we support vulnerable 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.

  • 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 them to the shelter in the first place.

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