I used to pray for what I have now.

“I used to pray for what I have now.”
It’s a quote someone else said but I live.

I never dreamed of big things for myself, even as a kid. I knew early on in life I would never leave southern WV because I had a mom and a dad to take care of when they got old and I was an only child. All they had was me, so I’d be sticking around. Weird for a kid to think that far ahead but the truth. Sticking around in southern WV meant opportunities for things in life other people dream of, I would probably never have. It’s an impoverished area here where education isn’t at the top of the list. Men go into the coal mines and women are housewives like my mom was, work in retail, or the medical field. It takes all different people to make the world go around and the world goes around slower down here.

The only thing I ever truly dreamed of was saving animals. In grade school I fed the stray mutts dumped off at my grannies until they were all shot by people in the neighborhood. My granny would tell me each time one went missing that it got a home on a farm far away. In a way, I guess maybe she was right but even my little brain knew nothing good happened.

I used to call the Logan dog pound when I was in middle school to just to ask what was there even though I couldn’t have any of them. I could hear the dogs barking in the background and that never stopped weighing on my mind. The pound then had a gas chamber and a lot of times even though the barking on the other end of the line was deafening, the warden would tell me they had no dogs available. Those dogs are long dead, destined to die because of people, the place they were born, so many reasons… but I knew I wanted to change it.

There wasn’t a name for what I wanted to do. Rescue didn’t exist and wouldn’t exist here until years later. So I tortured my childhood with thoughts of ghost dogs I never saw, only heard and looked at strays by the road that I couldn’t bring home.

I’d pray my tiny, honest prayers that one day I would be able to help and I continued on catching the frogs before dad cut the grass & picking up the baby birds that never made it despite the sacrifice of countless worms and love.

I did that and it grew.

In high school I bought an aquarium for the sick fish at the Walmart. That was a losing game. I nursed the neighbors’ dogs. While kids my age were doing normal stuff, which I still did some of, I was up early dipping the drowning bugs out of the cousins pool and letting them stay on my warm hand until they had dried their wings and flew away.

And today I run a non-profit animal rescue that has saved so many animals. I have a great team. I have donors that believe in the vision and trust the process. I’ve changed the minds of some locals. We are spaying and neutering community animals and providing housing for dogs in need. We’re changing things. Every broken heart, every piece I gave to dying baby birds, neighborhood kittens that didn’t make it across the road, and those stray dogs that the adults were afraid of but I wasn’t…has led me to this. Here I am living my dream and changing things for the animals.

It’s my dream but I didn’t get here alone.
Thank you to everyone who is a part of
A Reason To Believe Animal Rescue.

Jessica Hill White

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