Society For Animal Rescue & Adoption (SARA)
By David Walega
Can you imagine feeding, watering and caring for over 850 animals during the hottest August on record in the U.S.? That is what Southern Animal Rescue Association (SARA) founder Tracy Frank has done for the rescued cats, dogs and factory farm animals at the sanctuary while braving temperatures of well over 100 degrees.
Climatologists have declared August 2011 in Texas to be the warmest on record for any state in the United States. Such severe weather has had a huge economic, environmental and agricultural toll on businesses throughout the Southwest. SARA, located in Seguin, Texas, is a no-kill animal sanctuary that needs your help during this critical time. Located fifty miles in either direction to the nearest population center, many resources have been drained to maintain the high level of care that Tracy and her small staff provide to the animals.
On a recent Sunday, I caught up with Tracy during a typical hectic day, to talk about the current weather situation and its effect on running the animal rescue she started over sixteen years ago. When we talked the local temperature was 113 degrees, which increased the urgency to feed and supply enough water to the growing number of rescued animals, many of whom are dumped at the sanctuary gates in dire condition. She responded with the confidence of someone who has weathered many difficulties and has never swayed from her mission to protect animals.
SARA is situated on the site of a former dairy farm, and is now home to hundreds of abandoned cats, dogs and rescued factory farm animals. Tracy came to animal rescue from a very unlikely beginning, growing up on a family ranch where hunting and participating in rodeo activities was expected. From an early age, however, she possessed empathy for the animals she worked with daily. Her true passion for animal welfare was awakened while teaching special education in her mid-thirties. Finding abused and abandoned dogs along the country roads that led to her home, the transformation toward animal protection began with the rescue of a few strays. As the population of rescued animals grew so did her passion to help these animals live out their natural lives regardless of impairment, age or disability.
Inspired by Best Friends Animal Society, Tracy founded SARA as a no-kill sanctuary. Based on the Best Friends example, the no-kill business model was at the time a controversial, if not revolutionary, approach to animal welfare. Since its inception, the population of SARA has grown considerably, now housing over 850 animals within its 380 acres at any given time. The property also serves as a wildlife refuge with the occasional feral pig joining the population.
According to Tracy, the feral pigs in central Texas suffer some of the cruelest abuse. It is legal for local sport hunters to shoot them from helicopters and hunt them with dogs. One special pig appeared in Tracy’s life with severe injuries from a gunshot wound. “We managed to catch him. It turns out he had been shot in the face. His jaw was broken, he had a hole the size of a fifty-cent piece in his cheek and he had maggots in his sinuses and jaw. It was horrible.” Porfirio the pig was stabilized and treated with antibiotics. Tracy fed him with a syringe for months and developed a close bond with him. “He was my baby. He died in my arms. Buckshot must have come dislodged or a blood clot went to his brain and killed him.” The cases of animal abuse at the hands of unfeeling neighbors has only strengthened her determination to help more and more animals.
The sanctuary’s remote location and environmental extremes present unique obstacles for the care of the animals. “Everyday is a struggle to water, feed and care for the animals,” Tracy explains. “We have a small but devoted staff to care for the animals, distributing over 2000 pounds of dog and pig food everyday, for example.” The most urgent issue during this summer is the distribution of water, along with providing enough hay and attending to the special needs of a wide variety of animals. “We use thousands and thousands of gallons just for the pigs and the dogs who have pools and large wash tubs to cool off. We keep the water running 24/7 for the pigs when it's really hot.” Tracy explains that the main obstacle is the high electricity cost to pump the water from their natural spring. While the cats enjoy two air-conditioned shelters, the pigs and other animals must be monitored constantly to be kept cool in the extreme heat.
Tracy has built a community of volunteers and supporters to help SARA spread information on spaying/neutering as a solution to overpopulation, as well as the need to adopt shelter and rescue animals within the region. Tracy’s volunteer base consists of college students on break, local high school students, church groups and caring individuals. Your donations are needed now to ensure that the animals continue to receive the critical care they require to remain safe during this historic heat wave and enable SARA to continue its good work helping animals.Visit their website and donate today.