What would dog owners want if they knew?
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There are tons of misconceptions about working or volunteering in an animal shelter. While cuddling all of the puppies is great fun, working with animals in need can also be emotional and difficult at times. Shelter volunteers make it clear what they want to know about the rewarding work experience at an animal shelter.
1. Adopt, not shop.
This is not just our smart catchphrase. Unfortunately, there are thousands of dogs in shelters that have been abandoned or on their own. If every person looking for a dog went to a shelter to adopt, rather than shop at a pet store (where many dogs come from puppy factories with dire conditions), those numbers would decrease significantly.
2. A shelter cannot make it without a good core of volunteers.
Properties are not for profit. This means that they are based solely on donations of time and money. No animal shelter can afford to hire full time staff to look after and walk every single animal and this is where volunteers step in. Volunteers are able to socialize the animals, spend time with them, guide them and even help clean their cages by feeding them.
3. Employees are just as important as the volunteers!
The few full-time or part-time employees are just as important as the volunteers! They are really people with the kindest hearts. They spend countless hours devoting their time to the animals in the shelter, usually with very little pay. Shelter workers are usually the ones who handle the dogs, clean their cages, and do all the tough things behind the scenes.
4. Shelter animals are not broken or damaged.
This is one of the worst misconceptions people have about accommodation. The animals that came out of the animal shelters were mostly thrown out by their owners, sometimes abused or sometimes lived as strays. That doesn't mean they aren't great animals! I think all the hardships these animals have faced make them far more vulnerable than falling in love with a new family or owner. This is why animal shelters are so soulful, sweet beings.
5. It is extremely difficult when an animal you love is adopted.
There are so many happy and sad tears when an animal you have worked and worked with in a shelter is adopted. Seeing the animal run from the arms to the arms of the new owner is one of the most bitter experiences. However, we always believe that we have helped this animal live happier lives, especially when their new human sends us photos of them being silly in their new homes!
6. You quickly find out that you cannot bring them all home. So you focus on finding a family.
This is one of the quickest things to learn as a volunteer or employee at an animal shelter. There is just no way to bring home every single animal, no matter how cute it is. From this fact results the determination to find a perfect family.
7. Volunteering is not only good for the animals.
I like to think of volunteering as the best possible addiction. Sometimes I expect to be at the shelter for only an hour and soon realize that four hours have passed, I have severe sunburn and am covered in 10 different dog hairs. But at the same time, I'm also the happiest I've been all week. This is our therapy.
8. The Big Difference Spaying Your Pets Will Make.
Those who work in shelters are desperate to educate about neutering and neutering of pets. There's nothing worse than finding a box of puppies on the side of the road or being tied up somewhere. While they are adorable, it's usually a result of someone's dog getting pregnant and they don't want to look after the pups. It is so easy to spay or neuter your dog and it can go a long way in helping animal shelters overcrowded.
9. When you bring an animal to a shelter, you give up, DO NOT donate.
Animal shelter workers hear this all the time - "I want to donate my puppies!" An animal shelter is not a puppy drive like a feed trip. We are not looking for more dogs because there is a shortage. You are giving your dog a life behind bars that could destroy his spirit. This is why it is so important to think twice before getting a dog!
10. Every day is a struggle to find the perfect home for the animals.
This is a common problem in shelters. While there are plenty of people who ask about puppies and say they want a dog, job applications and house checks are necessary to ensure the animal won't end up on the street or in another animal shelter in the future. It's a terrible experience for her the first time!
11. You will be constantly reminded of the cruelty with which humans impose on animals.
This is probably the hardest part about working or volunteering at a shelter. When an abused, injured, or sick dog is handed over to the shelter, it hurts my heart. After a little while, the anger feels sad. I am constantly questioning humanity and how humans could do these things to innocent animals.
12.But you will also be reminded of the beautiful work people can do when they get together.
While this cruelty and neglect is painful, it is also medicine that keeps us going. A shelter is like a well-oiled machine. Any day you can walk through an animal shelter and see everyone doing their duty - volunteers walking the dogs, staff cleaning their cages, doing laundry, and feeding them.
13. Shelters are usually not for profit. This means that they are based entirely on donations.
Adoption fees are not price tags! They are the fees that help pay for food, surgery, veterinary care, grooming, and so many other things that keep a shelter going.
14. Shelters are not terrible, scary places.
Often times they are full of hope and some of the best people you will ever meet. The shelters are sometimes cleaner than people's houses with all of the work that goes into making the kennels hygienic and comfortable for the dogs.
15. It is important to obey the signs and listen to the staff. You know the animals best.
If a sign only says "staff", it is important that you do not go into the cage without an employee. Most animal shelters require you to sign some forms before seeing the animals. This is a safety precaution. Know that the staff are just trying to make the experience better for you and the animal you are interested in.
16. Seeing an animal that changes its health and behavior dramatically is unlike any other feeling in the world.
We watch their wounds heal. We see a dog crouching in the back of its kennel and coming straight to the gate with its tail raised and asking you to take her to play. We watch a dog show its teeth on other dogs, play peacefully with another four-legged friend. These changes will never cease to amaze me!
Do you want to make a difference now? Use code BARKGIVES on BarkBox.com for 50% off your first box for any 6 or 12 month plan PLUS We donate $ 10 to our rescue partners with every redemption!
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