Animal Planet’s new pet rescue show The Guardians follows the Guardians of Rescue — a volunteer organization with a simple mission, to help animals from perilous situations and to educate or rescue owners who may have lost their way.
The group cover the tri-state area and is made up of a diverse bunch, from vets to retired private investigators and even techies, all united by their desire to protect the well-being of animals.
Right at the hub of the Guardians of Rescue wheel is Dori Scofield. She’s the Guardians of Rescue executive director and president of Save-a-Pet Rescue, which provides housing and finds homes for many of the animals rescued by the Guardians.
She is also a mother, a true survivor and a tireless optimist in the face of daunting and often tragic scenarios.
Dori’s Herculean efforts earned her Animal Planet’s compelling new docuseries, which also features the tight-knit group of collaborators who support her and help her alleviate animal (and to an extent human) suffering.
Dori and her crew provide aid to animals in distress, supporting veterinarian care, foster programs, rehabilitation, and working in tandem with other rescue groups. They even give economic support to families, both military and not, who need assistance to care for their animals.
One could say Dori was born to help the vulnerable who cannot speak for themselves. She has been rescuing animals for 30 years, re-homing over 30,000 animals in that time.
Personally she walks the talk. Dori has, at last count, 43 animals including dogs, cats, horses, rabbits and chickens. She is married with four children.
Sadly, Dori’s son passed away at the age of 25 from an overdose in 2011, leading to the establishment of Dan’s Foundation for Recovery in his memory.
Dori took time out from her busy schedule to speak with us about the show and her work…
Monsters and Critics: Dori, we love your selfless hard work for vulnerable animals. What are your biggest concerns for the community as you serve in the greater New York area?
Dori Scofield: My biggest concerns are of course for the animals, who have no voice in our community. When so many people are struggling with economic issues to make ends meet, the animals always suffer; they are often the first thing to go or be left behind. On any given day, there is never a shortage of neglected, abandoned or abused animals.
We have a huge feral cat problem here on Long Island. I have been doing TNR (trap, neuter, return) since 1979! I am a big supporter of it because I see first-hand the difference it can make for these poor cats who are dumped and left to fend for themselves.
Our shelters here are overcrowded with orphaned dogs and cats, and there are so many people who still do not spay and neuter their pets. It is a never-ending plight, and we are always racing against time to save lives.
But as Mother Teresa once said, “I cannot help them all, but I can help the one that stands before me.” That is my mantra, and I remind myself of it often.
M&C: Are the Guardians of Rescue able to get people to bring in their animals without too much conflict? I see that most of the cases involve poorer people, new immigrants and those living in fear inside their neighborhoods. Can you talk about the economics of animal abuse cases, and your opinion about this?
DS: No two cases are every the same. Some people are very willing to relinquish their pets if they can no longer provide for them and are very grateful. On the other hand, some will not budge. In those cases, if we cannot remove the animal legally, we make sure we do whatever we can to improve their lives.
Whether it’s building a pen with a heated house and providing food, grooming, medical care, etc., we make sure we get it done.
No matter what the economic or living situation, we are respectful yet persistent. Some of the neighborhoods are really tough; there is drug and gang activity. It’s not easy making change in these neighborhoods, so we have to handle it very carefully.
We are fortunate to have eyes and ears in many areas to keep us up to date on animal abuse and neglect. Language barriers are tough but if one of our members cannot speak the language, there’s always an app for that! My phone speaks many languages!
M&C: When did you know for sure you would dedicate your life to serving animals and creating an animal rescue?
DS: Pretty much since I was born! I drove my parents crazy. Even if one of my stuffed animals fell on the floor, it broke my heart.
Every dog and cat followed me home from school. Every injured animal was brought to me by neighbors even at a young age.
To me, it is my calling; my purpose for being. Everyone has a purpose. I found mine at a young age and have never regretted it, even when it gets tough.
I always wanted to provide a safe haven for animals in distress and having Save-A-Pet and Guardians of Rescue has come naturally to me. It is hard, grueling work but at the end of the day, I know I did my best to lessen the suffering of animals.
M&C: How did you meet the cast, specifically Robert “Rob” Misseri and Marvin “Moose” Baynes? What is the criteria you have to allow someone to be part of your GOR team?
DS: I met Rob [Misseri] about 11 years ago. Because we both live on Long Island, and both share an immense passion for animals, we teamed up and have been working together ever since.
I met Moose a few years ago when we were in New Jersey doing an outreach day of vaccinating, microchipping, nail clipping and distributing much-needed food in Camden.
He is not only a wonderful vet but an amazing humanitarian. We love having volunteers. Anyone with a passion for animals has the potential to make a difference. We welcome everyone whether they have an hour to devote, a day or more.
M&C: How did Animal Planet find you?
DS: In the past we have been approached by production companies to do various segments and shows.
Rob and I both felt the timing was right this year and, of course, Animal Planet is a great platform for us to share our message far and wide and get other people involved in helping animals. So when we were approached, we took advantage of this amazing opportunity.
M&C: Will you expand your operations now that Animal Planet has given you a platform to share your work? What is your hope for GOR in the long run?
DS: My hope for the long run is simple…to be able to do what I do on a broader scale, to save even more animals and certainly to spread our message of help and hope for every animal out there suffering and waiting.
I would love a bigger facility. Our shelter is small, though mighty, but also falling apart! A larger facility would enable us to save so many more. Currently, we have a tiny clinic. I would love to get a larger clinic to do more spays and neuters and low-cost veterinary care.
M&C: Is Misty [the office dog] still working the front desk at your offices on Long island?
DS: Yes, she is until we can place her in a loving home. She is an amazing dog who holds no grudges against those who have abused her. She lived a horrible life.
Those days are long behind her, but she needs someone who can devote a lot of time to her. She hates to be alone. She thrives on human companionship, and she is so darn smart!
M&C: What happened to Brian and Face’s rescue, Sanford, from the first episode?
DS: He is in a foster home who I am hoping will adopt him because he has some issues from his past neglect.
Please help support Dori Scofield, Guardians of Rescue, Save-a-Pet, and Animal Planet’s new show The Guardians. You can do so through the following links.
Animal Planet’s The Guardians: #TheGuardians: Facebook: @AnimalPlanet
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