need coping advice-working @ shelter - VeggieBoards
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#1 Old 11-01-2003, 08:12 PM
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Hi...new to the board.

As of yesterday, I started to volunteer at the local Humane Society in my town, which still is euthanizing its cats. This shelter is in dire need of

volunteers. Recently, it got a new director who has great visions and we will be moving into a new, beautiful building soon. Anyways, like most shelters, the adoption rate is less than stellar. As I helped clean the cages of these lovely creatures, the director had the difficult task of deciding which cats were to be put down. When it was all said and done, nearly 20 precious lives were placed in a car to be taken to the vet. In the meantime, I am just staring at all these little eyes starving for my affection...and it was really depressing. Yet the few moments that these cats have with me holding them as I clean their cages gives me a great feeling because I know at that time they are feeling loved. (sigh)



I wish I could bring a few home, but my husband would have a fit..we already have 2 rescued kitty companions. I would just love to know if anyone else is dealing with this or has words of advice. I really feel that volunteering is something that needs to be done...because without us fighting for these animal, who will? But am I torturing myself at the same time?
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#2 Old 11-01-2003, 08:20 PM
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I don't think I could work at a shelter that euthanizes. It would take too deep a toll on me. You're a good person for doing it. Animals need people like you.

Muppetcow is a member here that I know helps at a shelter. I once asked her how she coped and she told me that whenever you see an animal going home with a wonderful family, it makes it all worth while. Hopefully, she'll see this thread and post some advice for you.
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#3 Old 11-01-2003, 09:42 PM
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I used to do quite a bit of volunteer work at the local cat shelter. (I have since moved, or I'd still be there.) They had a no-kill policy. I flat-out could not would not work at a shelter that regularly euthenized healthy cats, which is why I am not doing that kind of work right now. (I do volunteer work for people who need it every bit as much instead, there being no no-kill shelters in this area.)



OK, things you can do. Can you get on the board or join this society? That way you can lobby for a no-kill policy. Raise funds so that the cats could be kept longer before they are killed? Become pro-active in finding homes for these animals? For instance, does your shelter run "adopt me" ads in the local papers, or take notice boards full of photos to the local shopping centres? Do you get your animal food and veterinary care for free? If not, how about approaching vets and pet food companies for donations?



Our shelter also "outsourced" cats too, that is, sent them home for short periods to live with various volunteers who could not, for various reasons, have another cat full time. These cats would stay in the temporary foster home until they were adoptable, at which time they would go back to a "shopfront" to be adopted out.



This is such a difficult issue, shelters are tough places to run as it is... making them no-kill makes the whole thing so much harder. If you want, I can hunt down my old recources and info on no-kill shelters if you would like to see how it is done. I have plans on running my own no-kill shelter one day - getting the start up money though, that is the thing. I'm giving myself quite a few years, five at the very least, before I can even hope to realise this.

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#4 Old 11-01-2003, 11:12 PM
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They're neutred right?



Let 'em go!



Im sure they would rather take their chances on the run than a long stay in a cage and then being put to sleep.



Hi BTW im new.
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#5 Old 11-01-2003, 11:18 PM
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I highly doubt most shelters that euthanize would neuter all their animals (before knowing they're going home with someone). Usually what they do is add the cost (or a significant portion) of the spay/neuter to the adoption fee and then give you a coupon for that amount to use at a vet.

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#6 Old 11-01-2003, 11:35 PM
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I couldnt imagine working there. I get mad walking just walking past a pet store.
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#7 Old 11-02-2003, 05:41 AM
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Welcome to VB!



What you're doing is really something to be proud of and very hard to do when you care for animals so much. I haven't been able to volunteer anywhere yet, because no-one actually wants my help (I'm "too young", apparantly.)



I agree with the ideas Kiz put forward. Also, it sounds positive that you're moving into a new building. Maybe there'll be extra cages and it'll be more attractive to visitors. Also, when the centre moves, it might be an ideal time for them to make a few changes such as introducing a no-kill policy



Whatever happens think of the good you're doing by being there, and that it can only get better from here!
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#8 Old 11-02-2003, 06:34 AM
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Thanks for the advice thus far. Just a bit more info....prior to the new director coming into the facility, there was no spay/neuter program - but there is one now. And the fee is passed onto the adopting family. They do run pics in the local news paper every sunday and occassionally

will have the cats at a highly visible are, like the local shopping center or pet supply store (which does not sell animals).



Once a week, the local tv station will feature 2 animals (hardly enough but publicity is still a good thing). I would like to convince the tv station to donate extra time to feature more animals. There is a new volunteer director from Boston with tons of experience in running no-kill shelters and she has a lot of wonderful ideas (plus she is veg...whoo-hoo!), but again it takes volunteers. As someone mentioned, I think once the new facility is up and running, hopefully more people will be willing to come and visit. I was thinking about going to local businesses and asking if they would be willing to feature a few animals every week???



And you have to realize that I live in meat country OHIO, where raising 4H livestock and hunting are the past-times. :-( But I moved back here because I think I can make a difference and recruit others who feel the same. So far, I have written some scathing letters to the editor re: animal welfare and have received quite good feedback. There is hope!
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#9 Old 11-02-2003, 12:41 PM
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Originally Posted by Metronil View Post

They're neutred right?



Let 'em go!



Im sure they would rather take their chances on the run than a long stay in a cage and then being put to sleep.

Sorry, but that is (how shall I put this politely?) not a smart idea. Unless the cats were feral to begin with, they wouldn't be able to survive very well on their own. Diseases, parasites, predators, cars, stupid people, hunger, extreme weather: a cat used to being fed and used to living indoors would not know how to deal with these things.





Pezhead, I know how you feel. Just focus on all the good you are doing. On the fact that these cats will receive love and affection from you. And cry when you feel like crying. Don't bottle it all up.



(((HUGS))) to you!!
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#10 Old 11-02-2003, 06:52 PM
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I almost starting bawling just reading your post, so I don't think I have much to offer.

I'm glad that they are getting some love from you, even if the ending isn't happy. I am thankful there are people like you who are brave enough to do what you're doing, and I hope you're able to make a difference. I am sure you have already, to the lives of the cats/other animals you have loved.
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#11 Old 11-02-2003, 09:29 PM
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I volunteer at a no kill shelter, so I can only imagine how I would cope in your situation(if I could cope at all). But, like others here have said, you are wonderful for being able to do this for the animals! They need lots of love.



Maybe you can suggest that they put some info in the local paper in addition to the TV publicity. The shelter in my mother's town does that every week, and they feature cats and dogs that need homes. It really gets people's attention. Good luck!
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#12 Old 11-03-2003, 03:41 PM
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I volunteer at the Nebraska Humane Society. Technically, it's a kill shelter, but since we moved into our spacious new digs 3 years ago, we haven't had to euthanize an adoptable animal. We do euthanize those that are too sick to be treated, those that are aggressive, and pit bulls (either state or local law that says we can't adopt them out and almost all of them that we get have been fought and are mangled and/or sick anyway--so, while I feel bad that they are put down, I'd rather have them put down than end up being fought again).



It is heartbreaking, especially when the intake numbers are high. Last Christmas, the shelter wasn't even open, but staff had to empty the drop-off kennels 4 times during the day...mostly older animals. I have a feeling the *******s were "downgrading" to puppies and kittens and had to get rid of the older and therefore not-as-cute pets. Grrrrr....



When it gets to me, I take a couple weeks off to decompress or do a different job at the shelter for a while. Sometimes all I do when I go in is wash dishes instead of dealing with the public. There's also nothing like taking adoptable animals to PetSmart and talking to all the people who come by with the pet they adopted from the shelter. Seeing how well-cared for they are makes every bit of heartache worth it.



I've been doing this for over 3 years and it's the best thing I've ever done, but I know it can be very difficult. Just realize that you ARE making a difference in the lives of the cats you interact with and that often times, for an abused or homeless animal, a humane and respectful death is better than the alternative.



As a side note--all dogs, puppies, cats, and kittens adopted from our shelter are spayed or neutered BEFORE they are available for adoption. I believe it was the Denver Dumb Friends League that started the early spay/neuter program (at 8 weeks, provided the animal is healthy) and noticed within a couple of years that the number of litters coming in to the shelter had decreased significantly. We took their advice and have been doing it at our shelter for 4 years with fantastic success.



Prior to that, we were making people pay a deposit which they got back if they showed proof of spay/neuter, but that was terribly ineffective.
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#13 Old 11-10-2003, 09:50 PM
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It is heartbreaking, especially when the intake numbers are high. Last Christmas, the shelter wasn't even open, but staff had to empty the drop-off kennels 4 times during the day...mostly older animals. I have a feeling the *******s were "downgrading" to puppies and kittens and had to get rid of the older and therefore not-as-cute pets. Grrrrr....



A coworker of mine volunteers at one of our local SPCA shelters. She told me that the most absurd thing she's ever encountered was when an adult and child brought in their old lab mix and the child became fascinated with a puppy and his parent inquired about adopting the puppy. They were relinquishing the family pooch to the shelter and trying to adopt cuteness during the same visit. It's pretty heartbreaking the way some people view their animal companions.
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#14 Old 11-10-2003, 09:59 PM
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A coworker of mine volunteers at one of our local SPCA shelters. She told me that the most absurd thing she's ever encountered was when an adult and child brought in their old lab mix and the child became fascinated with a puppy and his parent inquired about adopting the puppy. They were relinquishing the family pooch to the shelter and trying to adopt cuteness during the same visit. It's pretty heartbreaking the way some people view their animal companions.



That is one of the most disgusting and upsetting things I have ever read. Surely the shelter has screening policies that would prevent people like that from adopting! I mean, the dog is not a freaking used car!
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#15 Old 11-11-2003, 02:48 AM
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When I adopted my cat from the RSPCA I overheard a conversation on the phone. Someone had called up, a pensioner, with a sick, old dog. He/she had no money to pay for the animals operation or whatever, and was calling to see if the RSPCA could help out at all. They said they could not help out with operations and stuff because they were not set up to do that (fair enough, they run on a tight budget) but then the lady said, "but we can put you dog down for nothing if you want". Grrrr......



And the day I picked my cat up they did no checks whatsoever. I just turned up, pointed at the cat I wanted, paid my cash and left with her. Took all of five minutes. They treated it almost like I was buying a bar of chocolate. I was very unimpressed. (I had actually spent time with that cat on a previous visit... but the lady who "sold" Pascale to me didn't know that.)



This goes back to what I said at the beginning of this thread... I'm not doing volunteer work with shelters right now, this is the only one in the area and I know I would be unhappy if I worked there. Right now I'm doing volunteer work with people who need it just as much.

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#16 Old 11-11-2003, 04:59 AM
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Wow, so glad you're volunteering at the Humane Society!! They are doing wonderful work and I wish more people would support them. If people continue to think of them as the "bad guys" putting pets to sleep they are only going to make everything worse. They are the good guys, taking the animals that "no kill" shelters won't accept and trying to find them homes. The more volunteers, the easier the job. Do they have a foster program? Glad they have a new director, as fresh ideas can really help. Suggest they start a fostering program so that less animals are put to sleep. Then it's on the communities shoulders to start fostering animals. It's really up to the community, not the shelter, how many animals are put to sleep. A shelter with no support, no fosters, and no money fills up quick and is left with no alternatives! Kudos for your support of them!
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#17 Old 11-11-2003, 11:54 AM
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Well, it has been 2 weeks since I started and things are getting better. This Humane Society does have a foster program and is beginning to work more with rescue groups. When I went in last week, 5 precious cats had been adopted the day before.



Plus, I guess my local newspaper is starting to have weekly profiles of volunteers at different organizations and I am going to get a write up this week, with a picture and everything. Hopefully, this exposure will make others want to volunteer.
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#18 Old 11-11-2003, 02:55 PM
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Pez, I admire you. The shelter here puts down 50 animals per day! I so want to help out there, but OMG it would devistate me.
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#19 Old 11-11-2003, 03:46 PM
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Quote:
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A coworker of mine volunteers at one of our local SPCA shelters. She told me that the most absurd thing she's ever encountered was when an adult and child brought in their old lab mix and the child became fascinated with a puppy and his parent inquired about adopting the puppy. They were relinquishing the family pooch to the shelter and trying to adopt cuteness during the same visit. It's pretty heartbreaking the way some people view their animal companions.



OMG! This is a job for the Seriously, this is another example of pervasive "child worship" in our society. We treat children like little gods giving them everything their little bratty hearts desire. As a society we need to stop worshipping childhood and start being adults. It makes me sick to my stomach to know that "cute puppy" was probably returned to the shelter as a big mean dog because the family "couldn't handle" the dog anymore.



In July my husband and I adopted our sweet little kitty. We overlooked all the cute kittens and choose a 2 year old cat. I can't believe someone dumped such a loving animal companion. I'm more than happy to be living testimony of someone who happily adopted and adult animal.



I'm sorry to totally go off the original post, but the fact there are people out there that STUPID makes me want to go out and slap someone. As a matter of fact, I think I was the person in the shoes of the person working at the shelter, I would have happily pointed out thier "ignernce"



Back to Pezhead,



My best advice would be to use your time and energy to help get a "no kill" policy put in place. It sounds like you have potential to put a bug in the right persons ear. Out of curiosity, what is your board of directors like? Are they rigid or are they willing to listen? They can be your biggest allie or adversary. Until then, give these animals the best you can for what time they have left, many of these animals have seen very few kind humans. Offer them peace and let them know that someone does care about them.



Does your shelter have a fostering system? Would you be willing to start one? While I never volunteered at a shelter, I fostered small animals that came to the humane society in the town I went to college in. I fostered gerbils, rabbits, snakes, iguanas, hamsters, ferrets and even a couple of sugar gliders. It always hurt to see them go, but I felt like I owed it to these little creatures to help them.
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#20 Old 11-11-2003, 03:47 PM
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You are doing the right thing, and that is always hard. I personally respect you.

Even for one day a week, month etc. we all should in some way try to vulunteer for the homeless animals. I am curently TNRing a feral cat colony. In Bergen County, NJ we have a kill shelter which acts as animal control for all the towns, but a non profit organization called FOCUS-Friends of Bergen County Animal Shelter, raise money to give nueter tickets to volunteers like me who trap the cats, bring them in for nueter, shots and a health check. I then release them back to their colony, which is in a backyard of an old man I help. I set up shelters for them, he feeds them. This is the most humane thing to do for ferals, since they connot be adopted and will be euthanized if brought to a shelter.



Most shelters who euthanize are contracted as animal control for their county, or city. They are funded by either the county or state. It is they who deside how much money is put aside for that shelter. So it is important to get involved politically, write letters to the county, state officials requesting that more money be invested in the shelter and that it be made into a no-kill. You would be surprised to know how effective it is to write letters. One respresentative has said, that because so few people write, that eatch letter represents the opinion of many( I forgot the amount).
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#21 Old 11-11-2003, 04:39 PM
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The shelter where I volunteer is responsible for animal control, but the bulk of the annual budget does not come from the government. The contract with the various cities pays the salaries of the animal control officers and for the animal control vans period. All shelter activities are paid for by private donations. If we only relied on the animal control contracts, we wouldn't have a shelter.



I'm sure this is going to be a very unpopular sentiment here, but no-kill shelters are not always fantastic and kill shelters are not always evil. I'd rather have someone take an animal that was abused or severely injured or emaciated to a kill shelter and have that animal humanely and respectfully euthanized than have a no-kill shelter turn the animal away and the animal end up in a worse situation. In my opinion, euthanasia is preferable to starvation. I think shelters should do everything possible to avoid euthanizing animals, but I don't think they should be villified when their efforts fall short of demand.
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#22 Old 11-11-2003, 07:03 PM
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I think that you are definitely doing the right thing. You can't help that the shelter euthanizes, and you are doing what you can by making sure that those that are euthanized are as happy and comfortable as possible in their last few days. I commend you.
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#23 Old 11-12-2003, 01:45 AM
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I'm sure this is going to be a very unpopular sentiment here, but no-kill shelters are not always fantastic and kill shelters are not always evil. I'd rather have someone take an animal that was abused or severely injured or emaciated to a kill shelter and have that animal humanely and respectfully euthanized than have a no-kill shelter turn the animal away and the animal end up in a worse situation. In my opinion, euthanasia is preferable to starvation. I think shelters should do everything possible to avoid euthanizing animals, but I don't think they should be villified when their efforts fall short of demand.



I definetely agree! I volunteer at a no kill shelter and it's very frustrating how many animals we turn away, we don't even have the room to take in many dogs or cats that are in emergency situation.
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#24 Old 11-14-2003, 09:53 AM
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It breaks my heart to go to the SPCA. When I go to adopt an animal, I want to adopt every one I see, but I can't. I always leave in tears, even when I've adopted a pet! You are doing a WONDERFUL thing by volunteering there.



I came across this - it may be small comfort for you, but it helps me:



"I looked at all the caged animals in the shelter.... The cast-offs of human society. I saw in their eyes love and hope, fear and dread, sadness and betrayal. And I was angry. 'God,' I said, 'this is terrible! Why don't you do something?' God was silent for a moment and then He spoke softly. 'I have done something,' he replied. 'I created you.'"
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#25 Old 11-14-2003, 06:06 PM
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That is one of the most disgusting and upsetting things I have ever read. Surely the shelter has screening policies that would prevent people like that from adopting! I mean, the dog is not a freaking used car!



Rest assured that they weren't allowed to adopt an animal that day. Unfortunately, nothing stops them from going to another shelter or to the pet store, or from getting a free puppy from the classifieds.



Our cat Sammy was adopted from our upstairs neighbours who'd been leaving him outside on our busy downtown street 24/7 and who kept his box of cat food outside in the rain and sun. He was unvaccinated and we ended up having to treat abscessed bite wounds from fights he'd gotten in twice during the summer a few years back when we decided that we'd either call the SPCA on them or talk them into letting us take him, which they did. We've had Sammy for two years now and just a month ago, the upstairs wench told my spouse that they'd adopted another kitten. Talk about jaw-dropping affairs. The reason they'd given for leaving Sammy outside was that her child has allergies and she was pregnant with her second baby. Someone told them that her child would develop a tolerance to a cat if he's exposed to it from when it's a kitten, so she went ahead and got one.



People can be idiots.
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#26 Old 11-15-2003, 09:22 AM
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Someone told them that her child would develop a tolerance to a cat if he's exposed to it from when it's a kitten, so she went ahead and got one.



That's bullsh*t. My cousin had a kitten that I played with for hours and hours and hours until it was about 8 months old. At that point in time, I became insanely allergic and couldn't even set foot in her apartment for more than 5 minutes.



I play with kittens at the shelter all the time with minimal allergic reaction, but get me around the adult cats and I break out in hives.
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#27 Old 11-15-2003, 12:38 PM
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Here is the link to the article that ran today re: my volunteering. I wish I had the chance to proof read the story before going to press because there are quite a few errors - for instance, I have had my cats for a long time, but the story makes it look like I just adopted them. And then it quotes me as saying "I speak cat", which I never said! That comment makes me out to be strange in my opinion. I don't know...I over-analyze everything.



http://www.mansfieldnewsjournal.com/...ws/646797.html
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