What can you do for Animal Shelter Appreciation Week?

by Nancy Hassel, ThisFurryLife.com

One of the toughest and most under-appreciated jobs in the pet industry is done by dedicated and compassionate people who work in our animal shelters.   They work tirelessly day in and day out taking care of homeless animals, dealing with the public who are not always kind to them, often seeing the worst in humanity, yet they still show up to care for the animals there.

Often comforting animals who are terrified who just got dumped at the animal shelter who were once adored family pets.   Thankfully their love of animals brings these incredible humans back every day to care for, love and help find homes for the pets in the animal shelter. 

This week, November 4 – 10, 2018, is National Animal Shelter Appreciation Week, and while yes there are many ways you can give back to make the animals lives better, (we will get to that), but what about showing your appreciation to the shelter workers who make a difference of the animals that are there?

In speaking with a shelter employee, who has worked at an animal shelter for years, they had this to say.  I am purposely keeping them anonymous to keep the keyboard trolls at bay.   I think this person’s sentiment can be said by shelter employees across the country:

It would be nice to have more acknowledgment from the general public about what our jobs entail.   It’s not all tail wags and puppy kisses, our jobs are more than getting to play with the animals all day long like the general public sometimes think we do.  A lot of people also think we don’t care as much as we actually do when in reality most of us would not be doing this if we didn’t care for the animals.  The animals are what keeps us doing what we do, because many of us shelter workers, myself included, reach the point of being emotionally burned out.   I wish people could understand or acknowledge the mental impact of our work.  It would be wonderful if more people would take the commitment of adopting a pet more seriously, and stick by that animal no matter what and not give up on them because they get sick or they have a behavioral issue that needs to be worked with.

When asked, what else would you like to see done to help the animals and the workers in an animal shelter, “More community involvement and understanding would be great because if everyone worked together as a whole we would have a lot less homeless animals.  Get involved and do something good.  Be a part of the solution.”

So I ask you, my readers, when was the last time you went to an animal shelter to see what the shelter employees needed?   Have you ever thought of ways you could help the shelter and their staff?
Something as simple as offering to help them, finding out what their daily struggles are and seeing how you can use your own skills to make a difference would be an amazing thing, in my opinion.  I know there are tremendous volunteers out there that do this regularly, but I am talking to you, the person who has a bad or negative association with animal shelters.  Who is making assumptions about the shelter, but may have never actually stepped inside an animal shelter?   Maybe today or this week will be the day you step up and step inside to see how you can help.  It may be the calling you never knew you had and can change your life for the better.  

Our shelter employee went on to say:

Other people may fail their animals but we are the ones who commit to doing anything we have, to not fail them.   Please stop saying mean things and bad mouthing shelter workers because it affects us more than you would think.  I wish the people who have false images of us and our job could do something productive to positively affect the animals, and make themselves more educated on what it’s really like to work in animal welfare instead of just passing cruel assumptions.

Here are some things you can do for the shelter staff and animals:

  • Help with spreading the word of a specific pet that is for adoption.  Even if you did this one or two times a week on your social media platforms, you may just help that homeless pet find a home.
  • Organize a donation drive for your local animal shelter – ask them what they need, if they have a wish list, and get your friends, family, neighbors, and your business involved.
  • Volunteer at the animal shelter.  Not everyone has to walk a dog, but use your skills or area of expertise that the shelter may be desperately needed.  (Social media person, website person,)
  • Take photos.  If you are a professional or good photographer, volunteer to take beautiful pictures to help get the homeless animals adopted.   While our iPhones and Droid’s take great pictures, nothing beats the look of a professional photo – and it may be that one photo that helps get that pet adopted.
  • Foster.  If you can foster a pet, it can make the world of difference in getting that pet into a forever home faster.
  • Adopt.  Of course, you knew I was going to say that right?  Adopt! Adopt! Adopt! And open your hear to a senior dog, get to know a dog’s personality and don’t say we don’t want that dog because of their breed, go in with an open heart and mind.

My dog Cody sat in the shelter for 6-months, many dogs and cats are in shelters longer, many don’t make it out.   I am thankful he had a caring staff of animal shelter employees taking care of him every day, without them, I am not sure where he would have ended up.   Stop by your local animal shelter, ask what you can do to help both the animals and the staff working there.  

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