“We’ve got to get these people,” she says with a heavy exhale. “We’ve just got to punish them.” The voice belongs to Rebecca Eaves, the founder, President, and face of a life-saving organization called The Arrow Fund, whose mission is “to provide medical treatment to Kentuckiana animals who have been the victims of torture or extreme forms of abuse and neglect.”
Rebecca and I have just spent three extraordinary hours at Blue Pearl Specialty Emergency Pet Hospital, holding four damaged little souls and taking photos for this article. These are the worst of the worst possible injuries and none of them is guaranteed another day. The challenges are mighty, but exhaustion is replaced by elation when a pup or kitten shows signs of rallying.
“The things we see are… Every day I say, I can’t be shocked. And it seems like I constantly am,” says Eaves. “We’re at capacity. We can’t take them in unless we have a foster for them. We’re having to turn down these babies, and it’s killing us.”
In the past seven and a half years, Rebecca has met almost every tragedy that has been walked, wheeled or carried through the doors of Blue Pearl or Metropolitan Veterinary Specialists and Emergency Service. Transports, both on the ground and in the air, bring desperately injured four-legged patients from all over the state, often triaged and treated en route. “We give them love, sometimes for the first time in their lives,” she says. “We wrap prayer blankets around them, and we put special stuffed puppies with heartbeats in their beds to soothe them.”
Saving desperately abused and neglected animals is the mission of our city’s own Arrow Fund, a nonprofit devoted to providing medical care and forever homes to these deserving victims. Reporter and volunteer Tara Bassett shares their story of hope.
The cases flow in like the tide. The Arrow Fund’s Facebook page is filled with frightening images of true torture, abuse and neglect. Without a permanent facility, they’re dependent upon an intricate volunteer, foster, and adoption system. Fosters must be capable of caring for special needs patients in their homes, either in recovery or hospice mode. The administrative demand is great and the supply limited, but Director of Operations Thom Ham, Director of Public Relations Angie Fenton, and a Board of six work daily in the service of victims of human cruelty.
Gratitude was Rebecca’s theme for the day, not only for the progress made by the patients in our arms. She asked me to publicly credit the “angels” of the organization, saying, “Without the team of volunteers we have, from the office staff to the child who sells bracelets and gives The Arrow Fund the proceeds, we couldn’t do the great work we’re doing.”
The lack of a facility has painful repercussions, because strict criteria is applied in the vetting process. Dozens of requests for assistance come in every day, each painful to review.
It’s a heartbreaking task taken on by three Board members, including Rebecca, who decide which four or five will be the beneficiaries of the finest medical care available. Kathryn Callahan is the Kentucky State Director of the Humane Society of the United States, a lobbyist and advocate. “The lack of a true “home” is a big disadvantage,” Callahan explains. “The Arrow Fund is the go-to organization for the type of injuries other organizations can’t handle. A physical facility would give them the opportunity to help more animals for year to come.”
Kentucky is at the bottom of the barrel - yes, 50th in the U.S. – in animal protection laws. At the beginning of each legislative session, Rebecca and a busload of supporters (including this writer) descend on Frankfort with hundreds of like-minded citizens for Humane Lobby Day. We make the day trip to remind elected representatives that we expect significant positive changes in the law.
Rebecca Eaves has a vision for the brick and mortar building, once it appears. “We’ll be able to handle numerous special needs animals. We’ll have a vet on site 24/7 and staff around the clock.” She looks away, awash in the emotions of a dream she hopes will be realized, and soon. “There will be space for training and education, room to give the dogs exercise as they grow stronger, and an adoption center where potential parents can meet their future family members.”
Clooney is one of the lucky ones who has gone to his “fur-ever” home. Those who are not so lucky will be gently escorted across the “Rainbow Bridge,” an homage to death employed to ease the pain of a pet’s loss.
Rebecca walks with them through it all, right to the bitter end. Her gentle words bring tears to my eyes. As they’re making their transition, she whispers, “You are loved, you are safe, and no one will ever hurt you again.”
To learn more about The Arrow Fund and help them to achieve their goals, go to Facebook.com/TheArrowFund or email [email protected] <
Tara Bassett is host of “Puppy Pack Adventures” podcast and “Take it from Tara,” Monday and Wednesday from 4-6 PM. “Waggin’ Wednesday” airs in the first hour of her show on... well, Wednesday! It’s all on WCHQ 100.9 FM, Crescent Hill radio.