• Rae Gellel

Meet The Rescuers: An Interview with Independent Rescue Volunteer, Clare Elsey

Clare Elsey is not affiliated with one particular rescue organisation, though she does collaborate with them often. She operates independently, having become known in her local area as someone always on-call to help an animal in need – reuniting lost animals with their owners, even those who have been found passed away, and delivering injured and orphaned wildlife to rehabilitators and rescue organisations.

Quite simply, Clare is a force for good in her community, and The Animalist was delighted to interview her this week.

Can you tell me a bit about yourself, and how you got started in animal rescue?

Clare and Blessing.

There’s not much to tell about me, really, I’m a bit anti-social, I tend to prefer animals to people. I didn’t start out to get involved with animal rescue, but like most of us, I had a passion for animals and then it just kind of found me.

It started when I found an abandoned elderly Staffie tied up behind a cafe in Plumstead. She’d panicked and managed to twist her lead up that tight that her collar had started to choke her. By the time I got to her, she was taking her last breaths. I don't know how, but I manged to get her breathing again.

She did her seven days at the council pound, and then I picked her up and found her a rescue place at Little Angels Staffie Rescue. She was called Blessing, and stayed with them for over 18 months.

The spot where Blessing was abandoned.

Do you prefer to operate as an independent rescuer - rather than as a volunteer for a particular charity, and if so, why?

I'm really not a people person, so I prefer to go out alone, though I do have some amazing contacts that take the animals I pick up to rehabilitate/rehome them (yourself being one of them). And I have a personal connection with Little Angels Staffie Rescue, as mentioned, and New Hope Animal Rescue.

Are there any rescues you’ve been involved in that stand out as particularly memorable?

The Staffie, but also a fox who just showed up at my doorstep one day. He was so ill, mangy, full of fleas with an injured leg, but that didn’t stop him taking a bite out of me when I caught him. He had a lot of fight in him, so I knew he’d be okay. The Fox Project collected him, and then brought him back to release when he was recovered. I’ve seen him a few times since and always give him a sneaky treat.

You’ve recently become involved with a group called The Missing Paw Team. What are the aims of the group, and what’s your role within it?

The group was started by a lady called Vicki Hudson, with the aim of reuniting lost and stolen dogs. Volunteers go out to people who have found dogs straying, and scan them for microchips, and also scan deceased cats in hopes of getting them home too. So I’m a volunteer scanner for Vicki and The Missing Paw Team.

You've become known on Facebook as someone always willing to help an animal in need. Does it ever get difficult to keep up with all the tags and messages?

It is a struggle, as I don't claim to be a rescuer. I just can't see an animal suffer, and if it needs help, I'll do whatever I can for it.

What can the general public do to make your job easier - both the people who contact you for help, and the public in general?

For the public - please neuter and microchip your pets! Cats and dogs, even birds and tortoises, it makes it so much easier to get them home. And also to the public - not every cat you see is a stray, and if you suspect one is then put a paper collar on it with your phone number.

What would you say to someone involved in rescue who’s going through a tough day?

We can't save them all, for the ones we lose - you were there, they didn't suffer and they were not alone, you might not have been able to save their life, but you saved them from a miserable death. Know that another soul will need you soon.

Visit The Missing Paw Team's website