I had never volunteered at an animal shelter before, partly because I didn't know I could, and then I wasn't sure if I should. I categorize myself as an animal lover in the Disney style, not over the top, but to give you an example: It's actually my parents story because I was already out of the house, but it gives you the idea of how I was raised. My parents moved to the country and began to have a mouse problem, so they began what I referred to as the mousey relocation program. They had originally bought a traditional mouse trap, but when my dad found a mouse dying in it, he felt so bad he bought a live trap instead and after catching one, would bring it over to the nearby state park and release it. Now these mice were not gross sewer rats but cute, tiny little field mice who lived off of seeds etc. Our family just can never see an animal suffer, and we pride ourselves on our pets being well taken care of.
I actually started going to the shelter after we had attempted to bring home a pet kitten. It belonged to a neighbor who had taken in a stray that turned out to already be pregnant. I had gone over to pick one out with my two daughters, aged 9 and 3, but I asked if we could do a trial run since we already had a dog who seemed to like cats, and I don't mean that in a good way. When we brought it home, with the help of my husband holding the dog and me holding the kitten, we introduced them, and it was an obivous no go situation. Dudley, our dog, was shaking and crying, and when I tried to let him smell the kitten, he tried to take a taste instead. Anyway, I had to march the kitten straight back while my girls protested, and while I felt bad for them, I'm no animal expert and I've never owned a cat, so I didn't want to put the cat at risk.
The next day I researched our local animal shelter instead and found that not only did they allow volunteers, they encouraged them. After calling to make sure I could include my children, I took them over when my oldest got out of school. Since we couldn't have a cat, at least we could play with them. Our local shelter is strictly for our city, a smallish city in South Carolina where we had been relocated from Wisconsin with my husband's job. The area has a history of poverty and had only recently begun to climb out of this when the recession began. The reason I bring out the financial climate of the area is to explain the condition of our shelter. While they are in the process of building a beautiful new shelter, they are still $300,000 short of the needed cash, and the construction itself has been delayed several times. They are currently hoping to move the animals to the new place in the beginning of February. In the meantime, the animals are housed in the existing structure, which is unsanitary and exposed to the elements, which are usually mild compared to the north with the exception of this winter. They receive only $50,000 from the city for the year, and the rest of the expenses incurred are covered by whatever donations they receive. The people who work there are dedicated animal lovers whose noble intentions are tharwted by a lack of resources. There are also currently no participating veterinarians to assist in the care of these animals, and the influx of unwanted cats and dogs is relentless.
The people who volunteer help with laundry, washing the animals, and socializing them. The first time I went I was hooked, and it's mostly been with my youngest daughter, who is now four years old, that I continue to go when my busy schedule allows for it. It's these sad, but also happy stories that I want to blog about, to work on my writing skills and follow my dreams. Please give me feedback, even constructive criticism, but be kind, after all, it is a human with a beating heart that you're writing to.