I have spent every evening over the past week writing a very lengthy blog about the no-kill vs. kill shelter controversy and was all prepared to post it tonight. But as often happens by fate more than planning, something happened this week that circumvents those plans. Will just save my educational blog for another time.
Yesterday an obviously starving female Boxer who we named Layla was picked up by our Humane Officers. Having no history on her as often the case with the stray animals that find their way to our shelter, its gravely obvious that she’s been on her own for quite some time. She’s in very sad shape…nothing more than bones. Weighing in at only 31 pounds, with terrible skin, worms galore and a tilt to her head resulting from unknown causes, she’s pitiful. And while gobbling the food offered her, did nothing but wiggle her butt in joyful appreciation for it and the comfort and love showered on her by our staff.
But this blog is not really about Layla….just inspired by her.
Layla capped off two pretty rough days at our shelter. While there is always a steady influx of unwanted animals that is frustrating and challenging, our staff is accustomed to this reality and manages to maintain their sanity through it all somehow. But when you have two days filled with seemingly nothing but one neglected animal after another, even the most experienced veteran of the shelter world can be taken aback. From an old Schnauzer that was clearly in grave condition, to a puppy that had a shattered leg that was in terrible pain and had been suffering with such for days, to the tiny little curly haired Poodle mix with a shriveled front leg that was found running loose on a busy city street, another dog with an injured leg and a mouth full of rotten teeth, to our dear Layla, starving and struggling to survive. How much of this can any one person take?
In sharing Layla’s story with Facebook friends, many people had the same response. Disgust, sadness, compassion, and ultimately anger as one friend shared. And while anger was predominant, the other repeated reaction was one of appreciation for those that were there to receive and help Layla. Those people who choose to tackle this job for no other reason than their deep personal caring for animals in need. I assure you it’s not for the money as no one gets rich working in a shelter!
I find that I don’t get angry anymore at seeing animals in this sort of condition and while at times it concerns me that I do not, I think it’s in large part because time and time again I see how fortunate these animals are to have found their way to us and our shelter and the amazing people that work and volunteer there. People that risk having their hearts broken by sharing them with those that themselves are broken and battered.
These animals, as unfortunate as they may appear, are lucky. Maybe they have had unfortunate pasts but at least they have a hopeful future. And I can’t help but wonder where each of them would be today if our shelter was not there to receive them. If we were not able to offer them compassion and care when they do arrive. If we were without the means to save their lives and find them homes.
We couldn’t offer them this if it weren’t for the people that work each day trying to make their lives better. And that would surely be impossible if we didn’t have the support from our community that we do.
To those that have offered already to help with Layla’s vet bills, as she’s the most visible animal in need to those people like the couple who in the midst of these especially difficult days stopped to bring us three huge bags full of freshly laundered toys to share with our animals.
To those that regularly make us a part of the charitable contributions to those that volunteer regularly to offer additional comfort and attention to the dogs and cats that live in the cages and kennels for countless hours as they await their forever home.
I’m lucky that my heart is only big enough to hold the appreciation I feel rather than the anger that could so quickly dominate it if it were allowed. But there’s no room for it. Really! I can’t be angry at the people that have done these animals wrong when there are so many that are trying so hard to do them right. And to all of you, especially our very special staff, I thank you from the bottom of my very full heart!