When a rescuer passes away, does their family realize how many people miss them? People who the family never met? This week a long-time rescuer in San Antonio died. Her name, to those in rescue, was Lena Harris and she was known throughout the animal community for her work with many organizations.
When her death was announced, rescuers started to come forward with their memories, such as:
“I was on the phone one day with Lena ages ago when she started yelling "someone just threw a dog over my fence" and she ran out to help the poor frightened dog and called me back later with more details - no, she did not catch the culprit who threw the dog into her yard. This was a regular occurrence for her and she took care of all the dogs that were thrown over her fence and got them spay/neutered and up-to-date on shots.”
Lena made everyone smile every day. She had so many stories and loved to make people laugh. Her first passion was saving dogs and she was not afraid to tell anyone why you should spay your dog or how to be a responsible pet owner. I watch the dogs coming in to San Antonio Animal Care Services (ACS) and I can hear her commenting on each one - how cute one is or how someone could let their dog get in such bad shape. I will miss her jokes ,her laughter and her commentary every day. She was a beautiful person inside and out.
Fellow rescuers came up with plans to put together a tribute book for the family and they set up a chip-in, to allow one last good deed to be done in her name.
Lena worked for many local groups, including ACS. (In honor of that service, the picture at the top of this column is an ACS dog who needs immediate rescue.) It is really not possible to list all the groups - because when you work with one group, you usually work with many groups. Lena was no exception.
Probably the biggest fear of those who rescue is that no one will look after their animals when they are no longer able to care for them. Many people were concerned about Lena’s rescue animals. They needn't have been. San Antonio Humane Society took charge of all seventeen dogs that Lena was helping. That is what rescuers do for each other.
Lena’s family surely knows she touched many lives with her work; but maybe the families of other rescuers do not realize how closely rescuers work together and how every person is important. Animal people are often thought to just care for animals, but that is belied by how they watch out for each other. So if your loved one worked in rescue and you think only you will ultimately remember, think again . . .
Every animal they saved for a loving home brought joy to a family that sends you their blessing. Every rescuer they worked with mourns their loss to the rescue community. Your loved one will be remembered and missed for her good work and good heart, as Lena will be.