Matilija Press
Book Titles



All For Animals


Published in 2003, Coastal Woman

Women Who Work With Animals

Even as a child, Jeffyne Telson dreamed of helping animals. And today she is living her dream. Through her five-year-old Santa Barbara-based nonprofit organization ResQCats, Telson rescues stray and abandoned cats and kittens—over 600 to date.

Once a litter of kittens is safe within the confines of ResQCats facility—a large

converted greenhouse—Telson and her volunteers go into action. They nurse sick and injured kittens back to health, patiently strive to earn the trust of feral kittens, have them spayed or neutered and place them in loving homes.

Telson used to ask herself, "Why, with everything that goes on in the world, am I working with just kitties? Why not people?" And then she realized that she is bringing joy to many people. She says, "What I never thought about is the difference that it makes for the people who take the kitties home."

For nearly ten months out of the year, Telson puts in 16-hour days caring for cats and kittens. This sounds like more fun than labor for someone who adores kitties. But it can also be heart-wrenching work. Telson must wear an emotional suit of armor to endure the abuse and neglect she sometimes encounters.

What happens to the occasional cat or kitten that cannot be adopted? They join the Telson's growing family of 25 cats, 9 collies and 15 African Sulcata tortoises—all of which were rescued.

While Telson gives her all to the cats, it's not a one-way street. She says, "I felt as though the first 57 kitties that came through here in 1998 saved my life. My husband, Mitch, was diagnosed with lymphoma that year. Sometimes at night, I'd come out and just be with them. I could let my emotions out. I could love on the kitties and they would love me back. I could cry and they would make me laugh. They have given me more than I've ever given them."

Karen Stevens doesn't work directly with animals on a daily basis like Telson does. She doesn't even own a pet. But she improve the life conditions of animals everywhere. Through her organization, All For Animals, Stevens strives to educate consumers about cruelty-free living for animals and inspire them to be more compassionate. She says, "I launched a Web site in 1997 as a resource for animal lovers in the Santa Barbara area." She listed pet stores, veterinarians, zoos and parks where locals could take their dogs off leash.

She has since added information about animal abuses, but not in the way that people are accustomed to receiving it. She says, "Some sites show photos of animals being abused or mutilated. I share information that is uplifting and inspirational. I show people what they can do to help animals rather than what they shouldn't be doing."

What inspired Stevens to become an animal advocate? Believe it or not, it was a stray cat. Stevens first saw the 10-year-old taupe and white cat at an abandoned warehouse near where she worked. She brought the malnourished cat home and named him Cassidy.

Stevens, her life suddenly took some unexpected turns. She explains, "When Cassidy came into my life things changed." She left a destructive relationship. She started her organization and she became an author. In fact, the day she finished her book, All For Animals, Tips and Inspiration for Living a More Compassionate Life, Cassidy, (then about 16) died in her arms.

Like Telson and Stevens, Tara Horne is on a mission to save at-risk animals. Only she focuses on dogs. Through her Santa Barbara organization, Safe Harbor Animal Rescue, she matches homeless dogs with suitable families. Her motto is, "We help you find a pet; you help save a life."

According to Horne, "I've wanted to do this my entire life." She has one difficult hurdle to overcome, however. She explains, "I'm overly sensitive to animal cruelty. I knew that working with animals was my calling, but I had a hard time figuring out how I could do it and still maintain my sanity."

Horne discovered her direction quite by accident. She lost her own beloved dog and began the arduous task of finding another one. She visited animal shelters throughout Southern California. Her heart ached as she met dog after dog after dog that, if not adopted, would be killed. She said to herself, "I have to do something about this."

And Horne became a one-woman matching service. She visits high kill shelters, becomes familiar with the dogs, takes a picture of them and then she goes in search of an appropriate family.

She says, "People call me up and they're looking for a specific kind of dog." If she doesn't have a particular dog in mind, she goes back to the shelter to try to find one. She says, "This has become my mission."

Each of these women is on a mission—one that brings them personal joy rather than financial reward. But their desire is not for fulfillment or money. All they want to do is make a difference for the animals that they so dearly love.

Matilija Press Home | About Matilija Press | Recent Articles | Media Coverage
How to Order Books | Our Guarantee | Consulting Services for Publishers & Authors