cassandraSince I was a child I have always been very passionate about helping animals. I would find lost dogs in my neighborhood and go door-to-door trying to reunite the dog with its owners. One house I would pass on my walks, I always noticed a dog chained up that did not look like he was being taken care of very well. So I knocked on the door and asked if I could buy their dog for the $17.00 I had for getting a good report card in school. That one, I count as my very first rescue, at age 12.
I began volunteering at my local Humane Society as soon as I was old enough to be allowed to walk the dogs. As I grew older I became a foster for the special needs pets at the shelter, mainly pregnant cats, but also the occasional neglected dog.I have always made a great effort to help stray animals. I have even become a bit of a point of contact if people find a misplaced animal in my town.
Recently, I received a Facebook message about a found dog with a Humane Society rabies tag as its only form of identification. I went down to the shelter and looked up his owners. I called them, and they didn’t answer. So we went to the home address listed on the adoption paperwork. The owners were ecstatic and shocked that a total stranger could find their dog’s home.
One day on Facebook I read about a lost dog named Jemma. They were trying to organize a search party, and I knew I had to help. I convinced my husband to take us out to help. And during the long journey Jemma took us on, we found out just how rewarding it was to work together as a family to reunite dogs with their owners. One night Jemma finally made her way into the live trap, and that was it—we were hooked.
The Retrievers has become a second family to us and is part of our lives each day, whether my husband is in the field trying to help a lost dog, or I’m taking a lost dog hotline call. Volunteering for the Retrievers has been a great bonding experience for our family.



Anne-Kristen and daughters. Taken on the day Jemma was caught after three months on the run.

Rescuing animals is intricately weaved into the fibers of my soul, surely comprising a large part of my genetic make-up (although not a geneticist, I am convinced of this truth). This passion has only grown stronger with each year of my life, beginning as far back as my memory allows. From wildlife to domesticated animals, I have dedicated my life to rescue work, on a volunteer basis, because I simply can do nothing less- and am always striving to do a great deal more. In addition to mothering my human children, I nurture and cherish our many family pets at our home, which I’ve titled an animal sanctuary (because it only seems fitting).
Although I thought I was no novice to rescue, it wasn’t until one of my own beloved dogs, Jemma, went missing — in a rural, heavily wooded community hours from my residence — that I learned of the Retrievers. I, who protected and saved animals, was now searching for one of my own, against virtually every odd. The Retrievers guided me through a journey I then thought was a nightmare, and now realize was a blessing. This team not only gave me hope, but also the knowledge, expertise, and direction necessary to keep my dog alive while in Survival Mode, and ultimately, bring her to safety.
They say everything happens for a reason and, while I’ve questioned that adage on more than one occasion, I am convinced Jemma’s path led me to the Retrievers out of no coincidence at all.  After a little over a year of following other lost dog cases, studying the work of the Retrievers, I officially came on board as a team member. I love serving as a First Responder, providing critical guidance and, most importantly, hope and confidence to families who have lost a dog.
Every day I am thankful for the work of the Retrievers, especially looking into the adoring eyes of my own “retrieved” pet. Even more, though, I am eternally grateful for the capacity to give back; this gratitude and passion grows stronger with virtually every united dog and family.