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A Safe Haven for Abused Animals

Updated on September 2, 2015

"First Hope"


My sister, Lisa, and her fiancé, are avid animal lovers and actively involved with providing a safe haven for distressed animals. In addition to holding regular jobs they donate their time and money to a rehabilitation and adoption center called “First Hope” in Virginia Beach, which opened March 1, 2010.

The “First Hope” shelter opened with a handful of volunteers and its’ primary role being to serve as a safe place of rest and recovery for dogs rescued by the local animal control authorities. This small, but efficient operation saw over 250 suffering animals rescued during the first six months of 2010... an amazing feat considering the size and scope of their present facility.

Upon arriving at First Hope animals receive medical care and are spayed or neutered. Medical care is provided by local retired veterinarians. Obedience training is also administered prior to being moved to an adoption center. Great pains are taken to ensure no animals are adopted until they are ready. Although the facility works mainly with dogs they provide aid to other animals. The number they can care for depends on volunteer availability and funding they can generate.

Working With Other Groups

First Hope is an offshoot of several other local non-profit charitable enterprises such as, Hope for Life Rescue, Inc.,, and Pet Guardian Pet Service Inc. They and several other rescue groups are providing care and assistance as well as solutions to the serious problem of animal homelessness in their local and surrounding communities.

As a result of this and their affiliation with several other organizations, Lisa now owns four cats and two large dogs…all victims of natural disaster, abandonment or abuse. One was in desperate need of medical attention. On a recent visit to Lisa’s home, my first, I had the dubious pleasure of their acquaintance. They looked nothing like the pitiful “before” pictures she had showed me.

Lisa greeted me at her door while a host of various colored little noses poked their noses out from behind her. Her curious charges were by no means shy as one would expect considering the circumstances these animals had endured before being rescued.

Upon entering I was immediately besieged with a bevy of wagging tails, sniffing noses and probing furry paws. As I sat down on her sofa a contest ensued between them, each vying for my attention. I instantly noticed how healthy these animals were. They were happy, had shiny coats and highly energetic. They appeared in better health and smarter than pets I had owned.


By smarter, I mean as this story is being written, a multi-colored fluffy feline is perched on the back of my chair editing my copy. A black shiny cat is acting as “copy boy”, while the two dogs share kitchen duty. One, a large female German shepherd is brewing coffee and the other, a male black lab mix is taking pop tarts from the toaster. He’s not so smart. He forgot the napkins!

Sure, the last paragraph was a bit “cutesy” and an exaggeration, but it emphasizes their present hale and hearty condition compared to their former state. These are but a few examples the compassionate pair, coupled with assistance from friends and volunteers, has helped rescue.

Volunteers are the life blood of First Hope and their partners. And there is always a need for volunteers to spend 2-3 hours per week. Many soon find they are enjoying themselves at the shelters so much it’s difficult to Part Company with their new found furry friends.

Volunteer responsibilities include feeding, giving medication, playtime and walking dogs. Some like to work “hands on” with the animals while others prefer to use their talents in other ways such as fundraising or construction projects. There is only one prerequisite…a desire to help save a little life.

Most volunteers give selflessly not only of their time but contribute financially as well. Any amount is greatly appreciated. A few dollars purchases another bag of food.

Like most non-profit rescue groups their continued success depends on public support from people like you ! These organizations are run by dedicated, self-sacrificing volunteers. One hundred percent of all donated monies go directly to the care of rescued animals and not a cent is wasted.

If you would like more information on how you can make a difference contact or one their sister organizations hyperlinked above.


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    • JY3502 profile image

      John Young 6 years ago from Florence, South Carolina

      Yes it is. But you need to read Animal Massacre: The Chesterfield 22 if you thought that was bad. Thanks for commenting and being a follower.

    • Writing By Cyndi profile image

      Writing By Cyndi 6 years ago

      That picture is beyond disturbing and yet it so a reality for some many pets. Thank you for sharing this

    • JY3502 profile image

      John Young 6 years ago from Florence, South Carolina

      Thank you Alastar. Your comments are appreciated.

    • Alastar Packer profile image

      Alastar Packer 6 years ago from North Carolina

      Yes, a wonderful and spirit-uplifting Hub.These animals long ago decided to take a chance with man-kind and I believe we have a duty to do our best for them. It's special people though like your self, sister, and her fiance/husband that generally have to take care of the far, far too many unwanted etc. Voted up with pleasure!

    • JY3502 profile image

      John Young 6 years ago from Florence, South Carolina

      Taking care of them can be a handful for sure. But I'm house broken...wanna adopt me? LOL

    • MartieCoetser profile image

      Martie Coetser 6 years ago from South Africa

      I hope your family’s haven for distressed animals is still growing from strength to strength. I can not understand how people get it over their hearts to neglect or hurt animals. They are as vulnerable and powerless as children and don’t deserve to be abused in any way.

      My granddaughter (7) adores animals. So we have on our premise a big dog and a small dog, a cat, two rabbits, a tortoise, two budgies and fifteen fish in a tank. Sometimes – when my children go away for a weekend or longer – I have to feed them all, and it takes me quite a time to do the whole zoo.

      After the death of my cat I’ve decided not to keep pets anymore. My grandchildren are perfect pets.

    • JY3502 profile image

      John Young 7 years ago from Florence, South Carolina

      Thanks for following me Whikat and also for the nice remarks.

    • profile image

      Whikat 7 years ago

      Thank you for posting this JY3502. This is a very heart warming story. I am glad to hear that at least some animals not only are surviving, but thriving and have people that give them the needed love and care that all animals deserve.

    • JY3502 profile image

      John Young 7 years ago from Florence, South Carolina

      They are doing a great job! She took me to see it about a month ago when I went to visit.

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 7 years ago from United States

      It sounds like you guys are doing a fantastic job and need as much help as possible. We have similar rescue operations here and I have just started to get involved with a cat rescue small group.

      I hate to see animals abandoned, abused and generally not cared for as they can only depend on us.

    • profile image

      evlwman 7 years ago

      Thank you for helping us spread the word and giving "HOPE" to the animals we are caring for at our facility.

      Making a difference, one life at a time.

      Love, Lisa