I’m Emily and I’m one of the co-founders of Velvet Acres Animal Rescue. I started in the animal field in 2012 at the Baltimore Humane Society in Reisterstown, MD. Before then, I had very little experience with animals at all. I never had pets growing up; the closest we had were a litter of kittens that our neighbor’s outdoor cat raised on our back porch. Beyond that, I was around neighbors’ pets and friends’ pets but never lived with any. I always wanted to become a veterinarian and took every chance I could to learn and read about animals. Dogs and horses were my favorite growing up.
When I moved to Baltimore, from Ohio, and started at BHS, I initially worked in the cattery. I didn’t know then that that would be the start of my love for cats! It started slowly. A couple months into working there, my boyfriend and I started fostering a 9 year old, cantankerous, tortoiseshell cat named Velvet. She wasn’t getting adopted and had even been returned once. Neither of us had animal experience but wanted to see how it would go and a cat was a better option at the time over a dog. Velvet started as a foster but it quickly became apparent that she was not leaving. She chose me as her person and there was nothing that could’ve made me let her go. I had a chatty little shadow who always knew when I needed her. She was there when I cried, when I was sick, when I needed someone to brighten my day. She was a part of me in a way I had never experienced before, my soul cat. We only had a little over a year with Velvet before we had to help her over the rainbow bridge and we still don’t know exactly what happened. Without her I felt empty and lost but working in a shelter, I saw others that needed me, just like Velvet did. It was a couple months before we welcomed another tortie named Kiki to the family. She had been in the shelter for almost three years and I knew that no matter what I was feeling, I couldn’t let her stay there any longer. That desire to really save a life that needed me has continued to this day. I share my home with quite a few animals and many of them are here because they wouldn’t be welcome in most other homes; cats and a dog with bite histories, semi-feral and feral cats, independent cats with little tolerance for human interaction, older cats with a multitude of health issues. Each of them is a part of the family, no less than the “normal” ones who love everyone and everything.
Velvet showed me what can happen when you take a chance on the “less adoptable”. She was 9, she had an attitude, she was a cat that no one else wanted to take a chance on. But I’m eternally grateful that I did. She has inspired me to continue to take a chance on the ones that others don’t look at twice; the fearful, the shy, the unsocialized, the independent, the elders. She ignited my love of cats and showed me that animals truly are my passion in life. Velvet Acres Animal Rescue got its name from her and it will forever be a tribute to her life and the impact that she had on me. Ours is but one in a sea of stories about the bond between a rescue pet and their human. Because of her, and stories like ours, I started this rescue to help others connect with a rescue pet and to save as many animal lives as I can.
I’m Carissa and I’m one of the co-founders of Velvet Acres Animal Rescue. I have always had a passion for animals, even as a young child. Being born overseas in Central America, I was surrounded by natural wildlife. I was raised in an animal loving household where critters of all kinds were welcomed into our home (anything from dogs, to cats, to birds, to small rodents, and even reptiles). I always knew that I would end up working in the animal field, but I never knew exactly where my animal loving journey would take me.
As a child, I always volunteered in shelters and rescues. I wanted to help animals in anyway that I could. I was always curious to find out information about animals. I pursued my passion in college and graduated from Miller-Motte with my Veterinary-Technician degree in 2013. Upon graduating, I worked in a couple different animal hospitals for dogs and cats. I knew I was helping animals in those hospitals, but I always had this desire and yearning to do much more. After working a few years in private practice medicine, I went on to work at a rescue zoo out in Coats, North Carolina. I got to work with a lot of exotic animals such as llamas, parrots, monkeys, hedgehogs, snakes, armadillos, pigs, emus, and even an Ocelot! (large jungle cat). My heart was finally full and I felt that I was fulfilling my passion to help all creatures, big and small. In December of 2015, I was in a devastating car accident that left me physically injured and without a vehicle to get to the zoo. My heart was broken up about not being able to get back to work and the zoo having to push forward without me there. I have always lived by the motto “Everything happens for a reason” but I couldn’t quite grasp what would happen next. After a few months, I was able to get back to work and landed a job at the SPCA of Wake County Holding Center. I was happy to be getting back into what I missed doing the most, caring for animals in need. I loved being able to work with animals that had been so mistreated that they no longer trusted, nor cared, for people. I would call these animals my “special needs” critters. I loved gaining their trust and making them feel safe around me and seeing their transformations was amazing. As I got back into my passion of rescuing animals, I still felt as if something was missing from my life. It was then that I realized that I wanted to open up my own rescue and have my main focus on rehabilitation and behavior modification.
I have my own “special needs” animal who was severely abused and mistreated. His name is Shadow and yes, he is in fact my shadow. When I first rescued shadow in March of 2014, he was extremely nervous around people and would literally urinate himself if he was approached or touched. Fast forward to present time, Shadow is not as fearful as he use to be and enjoys being a goofy boy. New things still make him feel uneasy, but he trusts me well enough now to know that nothing, or no one, will ever hurt him again.
I know that my purpose in life is to give animals a second chance, regardless of where they came from or what their background may be. Animals are the only creatures who will love you unconditionally. My promise to them is that I will continue to be an advocate, especially for the abused and mistreated.