Hope Springs Eternal

Most nights, the lights in Lauren Anton’s house are on long after her neighbors’ have gone dark. She’s thinking about the more than 600 dogs and 400 cats currently in the foster care system of Saving Hope Rescue in Fort Worth and the best ways to help them. 

Lauren is a founder and board member of Saving Hope. She’s dedicated 15 hard years of blood, sweat, and tears to the organization and, although her frustration and blood pressure levels are often off the chart, she remains determined to push the rescue forward and to save as many animals as humanly possible.

“We struggle so hard to do what’s right for these animals,” Lauren said. “Many of them have been abused, neglected, and abandoned by the people they trusted to protect them. Many are horribly traumatized, mentally and physically. Saving Hope’s mission is to undo those negatives through rescue, rehabilitation, foster, and adoption.” 

Lauren describes the challenges as staggering. “And the flow of animals needing help never slows down enough for us to catch our breath. In 2022, we spent approximately $1.2 million in veterinary expenses, but we’ve also saved more than 5,000 animals since we opened in March 2018.” In just two years after opening, Saving Hope spayed or neutered over 1,000 animals while also providing other medical services.  

“Unfortunately, we’re closed to taking any more animals at this time,” Lauren said. “It was a tough decision, but we felt forced to do it as a way to help us pay down some of those huge vet bills we’ve accumulated. But we saved more than 2,600 animals in 2023 before making that decision.” Of course, Saving Hope will eventually reopen their intake. 

Lauren admits this is the worst time she’s experienced in rescue. Shelters across the country beg for fosters and adopters. They are overcrowded, and that means more euthanasia of healthy, loving, and deserving dogs and cats. The Fort Worth shelters have gone from a 95 percent live release rate to 75 percent, which is positively heartbreaking.

Despite the heartbreak, Lauren and her colleagues are pushing the envelope in a collaboration with the largest, cage-free rescue in Florida.

“It’s a hugely impressive facility,” Lauren said. “It has its own vet clinic and dedicated spaces for specific needs. We’re collaborating, and they’re giving us valuable direction on how Saving Hope can have the same thing but on a smaller scale.”

The two biggest problems Saving Hope have are education and funding. 

“Believe it or not, we still have people who do not understand the need for, and the benefits of, spay and neuter,” Lauren said. “I know that’s hard to believe, but it’s true. Just recently, 31 animals were euthanized in one day in Fort Worth. That will continue happening until we get on top of spay/neuter, and we must educate the next generation now to do that.

“We have a property in Aledo, which is where we intend to have the facility we’re modeling after the one in Florida,” Lauren said. “It will be a place to educate and to adopt. It will have limited noise, which is terrifying to most shelter dogs. We’ll offer training sessions to the public, as well as an animal welfare community center for schools to visit. We’ll have educational events for the public on spaying, neutering, training, and caring for animals.” There’s a finished, 4,000-square-foot house on the property.

“We aren’t kidding ourselves,” Lauren continued. “We realize this is a huge campaign. We understand we need an entire village to pull it off, and we’re asking everyone out there to please help us do it. It’s the only way to stop euthanizing more than 57,000 animals per year in Texas. We lead the nation, and that’s not a distinction I’m proud to have.”

Saving Hope operates down to its last dollar every month, which isn’t comfortable.

Adoption fees at Saving Hope range from $200 to $500. That isn’t cheap, but only healthy animals walk out of Saving Hope, and that’s not cheap, either.

Times are beyond tough. Lauren is frustrated but determined to make it work, to “keep going and to keep doing.” She has 2,000 followers on social media. Just $3 from each one would allow the rescue to operate a tad more comfortably.

Lauren is determined to eliminate those days of 31 deaths. That 31 soars to 17,260 per day nationwide and 920,000 every year. That is beyond the definition of tragic, and Lauren’s lights won’t go out any earlier until those numbers slide downward.

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