Secrets of an Animal Rescuer

Authored by Shirley Zindler

The people, animals, and situations in this book are based on my experiences as an animal control officer, animal rescuer, wife and mother. Names and identifying features of many of the characters and events have been altered to maintain the privacy of those involved.

Excerpt from Chapter 1 of Secrets of an Animal Rescuer


The ropes around my ankles bit into my skin as I was lowered headfirst down the steep drainage pipe. It wasn’t much bigger around than I was, and it was set at a 45-degree angle, underground-in a hillside. It was intended to divert water around a remote country home and I couldn’t even see the dog yet as the pipe curved slightly about 20 feet down. It was pitch black in there and my flashlight beam didn’t reach the end of it. I felt a little claustrophobic from not being able move much in the tight space, but I could hear the dog whimper, which motivated me to keep sliding downward on my belly. Before that day, I had never even met the two men who held the ropes that kept me from tumbling straight to the bottom but I had to trust that they would keep me safe.

A cobweb swept across my face; I brushed it away as I slid lower and a dog finally appeared in my flashlight beam. He looked like maybe a Cattledog mix and he must have been terrified. He growled ominously as I slid closer, and the sound echoed in the tight space as he began to back away from me. The pipe was so narrow that I struggled to reach my hand into my pocket for some liver treats. I tossed one in his direction where it slid rapidly down the pipe toward him. He gobbled it and looked for more. It was critical that he not retreat much farther as I was nearing the end of 60 feet of rope and the pipe went on indefinitely. The blood rushed to my head because of my steep facedown position, but I tossed a few more treats and slowly slid the catchpole out in front of me. With some careful maneuvering I was able to get it over his head and cinch it to a safe level.