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Meet Shira Scott Astrof of Animal Rescue Mission

Today we’d like to introduce you to Shira Scott Astrof.

Shira, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I started rescuing animals at a very young age. It all started with finding a sick kitten in my backyard when I was seven years old.  The vets didn’t think it would survive because it had all kinds of medical problems. But, we adopted the kitten and, against all odds, nursed it back to health. That was the beginning of my rescue passion and by age 12, I was pretty much running a cat rescue operation out of my parent’s house in Long Island.

As a family we began migrating to a vegetarian and then vegan lifestyle after my sister did a summer internship at the Farm Sanctuary in Watkins Glen, N.Y.

I moved to Los Angeles when I was 17 to attend The University of Southern California (USC) as a theatre major.  Almost immediately I volunteered at various pounds and rescue group and continued this until I was ready to fulfill my dream of heading my own non-profit 501c3 animal rescue organization. So, along with some like-minded people, I initiated the founding of the Animal Rescue Mission (ARM).

At ARM we have an amazing volunteer rescue team, and together we have already helped save hundreds of dogs and cats in need. We also specialize in abused and neglected dogs which is a chronic problem in Los Angeles. We find fosters who with our assistance nurse them back to health emotionally and physically and then we find safe and loving forever homes.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc. – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
Being involved in animal rescue can be a very emotionally and physically draining experience.  Many well-meaning people begin the journey but soon find that they cannot continue.  Almost daily we encounter the worst of humanity and the horrors inflicted on the innocent victims affected. And when you do all that you can and it is not enough, you can’t help but feel that you failed them.  But there also those incredible moments when you realize that you rescued an abused or sick sentient being, nursed it back to health and gave it a new and better lease on life. The dogs and cats cannot talk but when they surrender  their fears and show their trust in you,  then all the heartache you went through melts away and you know that what you do does make a difference – perhaps a small difference, but to those living and breathing beings, it is ALL THE DIFFERENCE.

We’d love to hear more about your business.
Animal Rescue Mission primarily rescues, rehabs and finds forever homes for abused and neglected animals but we also have various programs being set up for other animal advocacy work. We have a vegan outreach program to help encourage, educate and inspire people to make kinder choices with their food and clothing. We also do a lot of education outreach in the local communities including speaking at various colleges and high schools about what young people can do to get more involved in the animal rights community. I’m continuously inspired by the outpouring of young people wanting to get involved in animal rescue causes. Another somewhat original program we are starting is to help homeless dog owners by providing vetting, food, and supplies for their animals. Having volunteered at various homeless shelters, I have learned that some of the best dog parents are themselves homeless. All they need is a little help.

And one other program I am very passionate about is helping save dogs from the dog meat trade in China and South Korea. I have partnered up for the past few years with different animal rescues overseas to transport as many dogs as we can to us here in the U.S. These dogs need a lot of rehab and love, but every one of them has made a successful transition from being caged for food to becoming members of loving families in Los Angeles.  We can all learn from their resilience and their faith in humanity.

What were you like growing up?
I grew up in an amazing home with parents who challenged me all the time to be the best I could be, didn’t allow excuses for things under my control (there was plenty of tough love that I didn’t fully understand until later) , and gave me room to grow and pursue my dreams.  Choosing to attend college in Los Angeles was not what they preferred but they gave me the choice that if I was accepted to USC they would support my decision. My parents are my heroes because of the lives they live helping others and doing so much themselves for animal causes.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Robb Zbacnik, Jessie Cohen, Melissa Schwartz

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