As an animal welfare worker (professionally or as a volunteer), you know what it feels like when you make a positive difference in the life of an animal. It is exhilarating, heartwarming, joyful, motivating and provides a sense of accomplishment and hope.

More than likely, when you decided to spend your time with animals, you did so because of the strong urge to make a difference, follow your heart and to do what you were called to do. It is all about helping as many as you can and changing the world one animal at a time.

When you begin to realize that you can not help them all and there will always be many more to help than you are able to, you may begin to feel helpless, defeated and angry. The urge to continue helping and giving to animals may be so strong that you can not not do it.

If you continue helping animals with defeated feelings and a loss of hope, combined with the realization that you probably are not going to save them all, you may find yourself starting to withdraw from people and becoming hardened. Your passion to help animals can become all consuming and you can start to feel bitter, frustrated and really angry that no one else seems to care about animals as much or in the way that you care.

Burnout, Compassion Fatigue, Emotional Exhaustion these are all familiar topics to those of us who spend our time helping animals. Sometimes, just by recognizing the signs that you may be close to reaching a burnout period and need to find ways to regain some balance back into your life, you can quickly start to feel hopeful and on your way to a renewed sense of hope and passion.

A few signs that YOU may need Rescue:
• you can not stop rescuing animals
• your personal life starts to suffer as a result of taking on the animals suffering
• you lose interest in social activities and friends
• you stop having fun because you feel guilty when there are so many animals currently suffering
• nobody else can do this work as good as me or care about the animals the way I do

As an Animal Communicator and also someone who has been involved in animal rescue, I have some ideas about how the animals themselves, view our rescue efforts.

Through my communication sessions with rescue animals over the last 20 years and from the messages and wisdom they have shared with me, I have come to believe that our animal friends strongly sense our emotions and feelings.

They are always extremely grateful for being rescued and so appreciative for the gentle and kind touch of the rescuer. I know, from personal experience, that it is very common for the rescuer, who comes into initial contact with the animal, to feel anger, sadness and bitterness at the thought of the person or persons who did this to the animal. However, because animals are so sensitive to our emotions and feelings, when we have anger, bitterness, sadness or any negative feelings while assisting them in rescue efforts, they can take on these feelings as their own. When this happens, it can hinder their healing and put them in an almost depressed state of mind as they internalize our sad or angry feelings.

We may want to consider looking at it this way. The past is gone. The situation from which they came was obviously very difficult and undesirable. If we can focus more on the future that is ahead of them with hope and joy, they can begin to heal and trust that from this point on, it can only get better for them. They will have the opportunity to find a forever home, experience unconditional love or transition to the Other Side. Whichever circumstance they experience as a result of their rescue, is better than where they came from and any of those options are desirable and welcomed by them.

If you feel that you may be suffering from burnout, compassion fatigue, or emotional exhaustion or if you find that your work with animals overshadows other areas of your life, there are a few things you can try to bring the joy and balance back into your work and personal life.

Spiritual guidance, programs specializing in Compassion Fatigue or Burnout, one on one counseling, books on Compassion Fatigue or Caregiver Fatigue or websites dedicated to Compassion Fatigue, are all good choices and may be exactly what you need.

As an Animal Communicator, Cherie has made it her mission to give all animals a voice, deepen the human animal relationship and help raise the compassion level for all living things.

Cherie can be reached through her website www.cheriev.com . You may also contact her directly at cherie@cheriev.com or 818.577.5247.

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Comment by Michelle Alberigi McKenzie on March 13, 2015 at 11:43am

Thank you! I work at an animal shelter, and while it's no-kill, the stress is still beyond beyond. I will share this with my coworkers.

Comment by RAk on May 27, 2009 at 9:41pm
Cherie, I love your blog

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