Itty Bittys and Pitties Rescue is the result of the determined vision of Jolie Foley. Here is a bit of her story:
Jolie Foley’s passion for rescuing animals began almost as soon as she did. At age 5 she already wanted to start her own ranch and by age 7 she had lobbied hard enough to convince her parents, who were not big animal lovers and who had no interest in their daughter having any pet, to relent and let her rescue a dog from the shelter. Jolie says that day impacted her so profoundly that it changed her life forever.
“The day I went to the shelter is as clear and vivid as if it happened today. I have never forgotten the visual, the smell, and the pit it left in my soul. As I walked the long aisles of dogs in cages with locks at my eye level, so many dogs to a cage, so loud, all barking, pleading, begging, eyes piercing my soul, with help me written all over their faces, there were 2 distinct feelings I was overcome by: How in the world would I know who to choose? Who was going to get to come home and be my very first pet? And my second and even more disturbing thought, on what should have been the happiest day of my life, was how could I leave all of the others? This was the most difficult decision I ever had to make. I did choose a dog who was young and playful and sweet, and I fell in love with him instantly. I was overjoyed that he seemed to love me and was so grateful when the officer took him out of the cage and let me play with him. I was disturbed by the fact that all these dogs were locked up, and the man had a large ring of keys hanging from his waist… I remember thinking, I need to get that key.”
Now obsessed and even haunted by what she’d experienced and learned in that shelter, Jolie dreamed only of getting that Magic Key and rescuing every animal caged, mistreated and murdered. She was devastated by the injustice and in the brilliant purity of her child’s heart and mind she knew without a doubt that this system had to change.
Fortunately for all the many, many dogs, cats, strays of every kind (including human), Jolie managed to retain the immense love and optimism of that child’s heart and add to it the strength and determination of the woman and mother she became.
“I allowed my own children to rescue as well, and our house was always full of children and pets. I figured out really early on that my passion was ignited anytime there was a child, an elderly person or an animal in need.. and in a blink of an eye, I would spring into action. While I was a young mother, I had to work to support my children. Working at retirement homes, teaching, and working with special needs kids, along with caring for my own children and our rescued animals, was my life.
Then after raising my children, and having spent 20 years working with kids, while rescuing animals as a side hobby, I chose to embark on an adult journey of Rescuing full time.”
“I rescued out of NYACC, for over a year, coordinating rescues, transport, and putting rescues and adoptive families together. This was both rewarding and heart wrenching every day… I was overjoyed for every dog we got off death row, and devastated for everyone we couldn’t save. There were days I stayed up 72 hours, just to make sure that no dog I was working on slipped between the cracks… It became paralyzing because I was too far away to do much if something fell through. I realized my imprinting at an early age of the pain inside the shelters was a fear that was larger than life. I was again reminded of my early years in the East Valley Animal shelter, and my dreams of having the Magic key in my possession.
I got a hold of my fear one morning, and walked right into east valley Shelter, to pull a dog for someone else. It was the second time in my life I was touched by that same inner voice that said “this is where your supposed to be”. Funny that it was 38 years later at the very same shelter.”
“I followed my heart and allowed my passion for rescue to drive me. I have been rescuing death row dogs alone now, for over a year on the ground, in the trenches, and have built my rescue alone, from the ground up. I have put everything I am into what I’m doing. It’s a 24/7 job where there’s no pay and I’ve never been happier. I spend every day doing what I love. I’m learning how to be more effective, save more lives, and work together with other like minded people to help every animal we can by pooling all our resources. The past year and a half has been spent making good connections with people, vets, dog food companies, and other businesses that support our rescue efforts and enable us to get more animals out of the shelters and into their forever homes. It takes a village to do this everyday and I’m so grateful that there are so many others standing up for animals rights, and helping us rescue all that we can.”
Just recently, after spending the day driving a rescue dog to and from Santa Barbara for orthopedic surgery, Jolie found, in an antique store, the Magic Key replica from her childhood dream. It represents the beginning of her rescue desire, that she has now been able to make a reality. The key will be hung at the new 1100 sq foot location, inside Big Al’s pet Food Warehouse, right next to the Letter from the IRS for Itty Bitty’s and Pittie’s 501c3, which is pending, as a reminder of how far she’s come.
“I was basically born to do this but had no idea, and didn’t realize as a child, that not everybody felt the same way. Now, no matter how many hours a day I work, it never feels like work, and I cannot describe the feeling I get doing this. I have no desire for notoriety, nor have I ever kept count of how many dogs I’ve rescued. I do this purely out of love and desire to right the wrongs for these voiceless animals, and try to give them the chance at a forever family. Perhaps this stems from being orphaned, displaced, and knowing personally the feeling of not belonging, and knowing how important it is to feel safe. I know many people don’t believe that animals have feelings, or that animals know when they’ve been rescued, but I’m convinced these are people who have never saved a dog… Those of us that do this daily, know the behavior of a grateful animal. They absolutely know they have been saved, and are forever grateful. They come back to life; they beam with gratitude and peace.. and there’s no better feeling than watching that transformation, from dejected and giving up, or terrified, to knowing they are safe and loved.”