Reviewing What Really Matters
Recently, Chicken Soup for the Soul made a large donation of pet food to southern Missouri. I visited one of the local animal shelters that received some of the food to meet the animals and talk to some of the staff.
Before I arrived at the shelter, I looked up their site - reading up on their mission, facility and current adoptable pets. I was a little concerned to see a few negative reviews had been posted:
"It smells. The dogs were barking. What a mess. Too many dogs in a cage. Cat litter box had poop. Had to wait for someone to help me."
When I got to the shelter there were two workers in the office – one talking to a prospective adopter and one on the phone while simultaneously filling out paperwork.
The woman behind the counter looked up at me, acknowledged that I was there and went back to the call. I waited 10 minutes to explain the purpose of my visit. Could I have a tour of the facility, meet some of the dogs and hear about how the rescue was doing?
At first glance, yes it was smelly – (if you have a pet you understand that comes with the territory) – Compound that by 30+ dogs and 12+ cats (plus a few rabbits and snakes).
When I entered the dog kennel it was one long row with dogs kenneled on either side. Some containing one dog, some with two. And yes, it was loud. When we entered, they all started barking and jumping. As we slowly walked through and calmly addressed the dogs they stopped barking and quiet ensued
Upon entering the cat room – I found myself surrounded by a dozen felines roaming loose. Toys and cat trees graced the room. It was a serene spot. And yes, there were cat pans and yes, there was poop in the pans.
The shelter manager had started the tour with trepidation, I’m sure she was wondering what I really wanted – but as we went from room to room and our conversation softened to the daily demands and needs of the pets, I watched as she spoke to each dog, calling them by name, gently petting some, calming others. She acknowledged each cat by name and personality – siting which cat I could pet and which should remain at a distance. You could see the heart that went into their care.
I asked if they had a strong volunteer base to help and she kindly replied that they have wonderful people to help walk the dogs and do laundry but, never enough to keep up with the constant activity that surrounds a shelter.
My point is…
In a perfect world, all animal shelters would be spic and span. All dogs waiting for adoption would have their own rooms, beds, and outside space to roam. All orphaned cats would have trees to climb and toys to play with and a poop-free litter box.
In a perfect world we wouldn’t need facilities to shelter these animals as they wait for a family to rescue them.
But the world is not perfect and assures that we must have places to protect, feed and care for these abandoned souls.
Keep in mind - there is a difference between crowded, loud and stinky rescues and neglectful, abusive and cruel facilities. Most rescue organizations are non-profit and are just getting by. Help is hard to find. Expenses are high: rent, utilities, laundry, food, insurance, and vet bills.
So, instead of critical commentary, look past the smell and be compassionate and helpful. If you can volunteer – do! If you can donate money, food, or everyday items (paper towels, laundry detergent, cleaning products…) do! If you could run a fundraiser to bring community awareness and donations… do!
Positive action and support are what is most needed to help these organizations provide the best quality of life possible as they tirelessly find homes for these forsaken pets.