Born with a Heart for Animals

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Written by Becky Monroe

Charlotte Maxwell-Jones, founder of Kabul Small Animal Rescue, plays with rescued dogs in Kabul, Afghanistan, in 2019. (Kabul Small Animal Rescue)

Born with a Heart for Animals


I had other plans for this week’s blog, but yesterday I learned the tragic news that Charlotte Maxwell- Jones, founder of Kabul Small Animal Rescue, had to make a gut wrenching, possible life threatening decision to stay in Afghanistan with her rescued dogs or flee the country without them.

I felt like I had to give her this week’s time – I can’t think of a single thing more deserving.

When I spoke to a friend about how sick and saddened I was over this news, she said, “How do you know her?”

I do not know Charlotte at all. I have never met her. I knew little of her work until recently.

But, I know her heart and I cannot begin to fathom how shattered it must be after all of her attempts to leave Kabul with all her animals and staff tragically failed.

I cannot begin to understand the situation in Kabul. The fear, the terror, the chaos, the death and destruction, the fate that lies ahead… that I will never be able to envision or truly relate to.

I can in my own small way relate to what it is like to have to leave helpless animals behind. For every auction I attended, there are dogs whose faces I still see when I close my eyes.

When I worked at Animal Control and held the head of the dogs and cats we euthanized, I can still see their tails wag as I walked them into the room or felt them purr before placing them on the table. Those are moments I will never forget.

I have a dear friend, Peggy, whom I met through a pet store protest. We have kept in touch for the last few years and yesterday we just kept messaging each other our heartbreak.

It is hard for others to understand these hearts we are born with. Often, we can be criticized for loving animals more than people.

Our conversation ended with us agreeing on this statement, “Sometimes I resent the heart I was born with and other days I am grateful for it.”

I wonder what kind of day this is for Charlotte?

There are a thousand political things I could say. Faults I could find. Blame I would like to place, but truthfully, right now in this moment, none of that matters.

What I feel is the most important thing of all is that as animal advocate, we pray for Charlotte and her staff and the animals left behind.

I think we need to all take a moment to breathe and to recognize the immense compassion Charlotte represents. The absolute willingness to not only follow her heart and her passion but to ultimately risk her own life in the name of animal rescue. It is apparent she just couldn’t betray her mission or the souls she has tried for so long to save.

The critics will chime in that she chose animals over her own life as if that was her choice to make.

I believe Charlotte was born with a heart only a small population of people will ever come to understand. Like many of us, we never chose animals by conscious choice. We just feel in our souls a duty to protect them, to provide better for them. We will choose them every single time because we don’t know another way.

I saw this poem the other day and it certainly encompasses Charlotte Maxwell-Jones and the work she does and will hopefully continue to do:

To Love a Rescuer…

To love a rescuer you must love all of her.

You must love the scars covering her body from panicked and hurt animals she was trying to help.

You must love her fractured heart, that has been broken so many times she no longer even takes the time to mend the pieces.

To love a rescuer, you must embrace her grit and determination, and know that although she fights a war she can never win, she can and does win a few battles.

You must love the tears she will shed over those she lost.

You must give her comfort that she refuses to accept, as she blames herself for things she could have never foreseen.

To love a rescuer you must acknowledge the rage she feels towards the world at times, and know that anger is driven by a love of life too few have.

You must give her space and room to cry and mourn for the losses that others have caused out of carelessness or cruelty.

To love a rescuer you must understand her passion to heal and save is a calling, not a choice.

You must accept that to save animals is part of her soul and without that she could never be happy.

To love a rescuer you must be patient. You must accept her work comes first. She will forgo sleep, forgo food, forgo her life for animals in need. She will work tirelessly until her body and mind fail her completely and she cannot go on.

To love a rescuer, you must be strong.

You must not be threatened by her focus and love of animals. You must accept that the things you love about her, the strength and convictions and loyalty are also what drives her sense of duty to animals in need; you cannot have one without the other.

To love a rescuer you must never ask her to choose, because she will, and it will not be you. –Author Unknown

My thoughts and prayers go to Charlotte,  her staff, the animals in her care and to all those left in Afghanistan. It is my genuine hope that somehow kindness and love will prevail under these heinous times.

May those willing to sacrifice in the name of their passion – in the name of those with no voice – in the name of those who are helpless, give us the courage to follow our desire to make the world a better place for ALL those who live in it.

As of August 30th, an update on Kabul Small Animal Rescue and Charlotte was provided by SPCA International. Please keep them all in your thoughts and prayers in the tumultuous days ahead.