Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Barking to Be the Change for Animals

   Today is a special day set aside for bloggers to take part in a campaign known as “Blog for the Change.”  It is the chance to write about a cause that is important to them.  An organization that they support, people they know who work tirelessly for animals, or something they do themselves that makes a difference.  My intention was to write about the wonderful work PetSavers in Shreveport on behalf of the homeless dogs and cats.  The problem is Tuesday’s Tales of Tails also gave me an opportunity to post about them.  I have decided to run the same post again.  Two days still cannot give these selfless volunteers the praise and admiration that they deserve.
   It is easy for me to write about helping shelter dogs, the need to volunteer, do your part, and contribute for the greater good.  Blah, blah, blah.  The truth is I do believe all of those things.  There is only one problem and it is a major obstacle for me.  I have never been able to bring myself to visit an actual pet shelter.  I feel that I should be standing in a circle admitting this, “Hello, my name is M. K. Clinton and I’ve been afraid to visit a pet shelter.”  It isn’t that I haven’t wanted to go see how they care for the animals, or the inner workings of the facility, I really did.  However, like most of you, I’ve seen a lifetime of wretchedly heartbreaking commercials for shelter dogs.  I know those advertisements must be effective but they are seriously depressing.  In my imagination, the place was going to be full of sad puppies all huddled in the corners of their small metal cages, giving me guilty sad-eyed looks over their shoulder.  I am not that strong of a human.  I’ll readily admit to crying during the National Anthem, ABC’s Person of the Week, and once, a moving story about an oak tree.  How in the world am supposed to handle cages of sad puppies?
   The time had come for me to put on my big girl panties and actually go experience the place I’d been urging others to help.  I contacted Linda Shemwell, the founder of PetSavers to let her know I was coming to visit.  A fence and double gate to keep the dogs from escaping surrounded the building.  A chorus of barking and a trio of young adults greeted me.  They were in one of the yards playing with a group of dogs.  Two more people came outside to say hello and ask how they could assist me.  After explaining the reason for my visit, I was led into the office.  Once inside I met the manager of PetSavers, Paula Allison.  She moved around with the energy and determination of five people.  I watched as she handled a kitten adoption, gave a stray dog its vaccination, filed papers, and answered the phone.  She was amazing and in spite of being overworked, she kept a smile on her face.  Her love for the job and the animals in her care was obvious.  It was also very apparent they need more volunteers.
   I spoke with Paula about my blog, the desire to help by continuing to feature the adoptable dogs, and wanting to look around the facility.  One of the things that struck me besides how extremely busy the volunteers stayed, was how much joy their work was bringing them.  Don’t get me wrong, there were kennel runs being cleaned, dogs being fed, litter boxes being changed, blankets washed, all in addition to greeting potential adopting families.  The entire facility is in constant motion.  I was in awe of each of the volunteers and the incredible amount of work they handle.  Standing there watching, I couldn’t help but think how wrong the picture in my mind had been all these years.
   When a lull finally happened, the trio I met when I first arrived offered to show me around.  It turned out that the two men were in the military and the female was one’s fiancée.  Only one of them was a regular volunteer but they were all there on their Saturday lending a hand.  What great representatives for the military and their age group.  It was both a pleasure and honor to meet them.  Walking through the kennels, I
spoke to several of the dogs that I’ve featured.  We went to the “Hound” area and they played fetch and tug o’ war with some of the dogs.  The dogs ran, jumped, and got belly rubs.  It was great to see them play and have fun.  Clearly, they receive attention and know they are cared for while they wait for their loving homes.
   Before I left, Linda arrived so we discussed some of their immediate needs.  Just as the rest of the workers, she was deluged with calls, customers, and inquiries.  Also like everyone else I met that day, she was a wonderful, kind, and selfless person.  I can honestly say the volunteers at PetSavers in Shreveport restored a lot of my faith in people.  They give their time and energy to do hard, sometimes unpleasant work to ensure the well-being of unwanted cats and dogs.  This is a no-kill, non-profit shelter and although they manage to take care of an incredible amount of dogs, puppies, cats, and kittens, they are quickly reaching their limits.
   It made me want to shout from the rooftops, “Go help this amazing group!  Everyone give, volunteer, PLEASE just do something!”  Since that wasn’t possible, if you’ll excuse me, I’m just going to scoot this soapbox up and hop on it.  Here is a list of things you should know.
1.     No-kill pet shelters are NOT sad, depressing places.  They ARE places that give unwanted pets a chance to find a home and family.  Would the pets be better in a home?  Sure, but they a much better off than if they were on the streets or facing the certainty of death in another shelter.
2.    If you can’t volunteer your time, please donate money, lightweight flannel blankets (Big blankets are hard on their washing machine), dog treats, scoopable cat litter, durable pet toys, or Wal Mart gift cards for supplies.
3.    If you are in a school organization, sports group, church group, sorority, fraternity, book club, garden club, sewing club, bowling team, or Bunko group then get together and help!  (if I left your group out, add it) Start a campaign to raise funds, collect the items in #2, offer to spend a day helping to clean and spruce the grounds.  The needs are limitless but their funds and volunteers are not.
4.    Join their Facebook page and share photos.  https://www.facebook.com/PetSaversOfShreveport  Tweet out the animals’ information.  Social media is a powerful tool and if you are going to use it, why not use it for helping a homeless pet?
5.    If you are considering a new pet, PLEASE visit the shelter and adopt a deserving dog or cat.  They will love you forever and they need you!
C.J. is the first dog I featured.
Read his story under the
Adoptable Pets tab.
To sum up my first visit to PetSavers, it was a wonderful facility.  I left feeling better about myself, the pets, and my motivation to help was incredible.  The bottom line is this: The only thing sadder than those advertisements featuring the homeless pets is not doing anything to help them.  What would happen if everyone waited for someone else to help?  It has to start with someone, why not you and me?
This post is part of Blog for the Change blog hop.  Please read the other bloggers posts.  If there is a group or organization that interests you, leave a message, volunteer, be the change!  You can help spread the word by tweeting or posting this message to Facebook:   “JAN. 15: BE, BLOG AND READ THE CHANGE FOR ANIMALS! – Get the badge & spread the word! http://btc4animals.com/blog-the-change #BtC4A



23 comments :

  1. Being sensitive for this causes it is nirmal , i understand you well :)

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  2. Thanks. I'm glad I went because now I know it is a great place. I'm looking forward to returning.

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    1. I was prepared for Wordless Wednesday but realized late last night it was Be the Change day. I had to feature this group again. Thank you for stopping by to visit.

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  4. The shelter in our area is very nice. Mom has been there many times but only allows herself to go when she wants to adopt a pet. She can't leave empty handed. The last trip, five years ago, brought Bert and Sophie, our current kitties to our house. Mom has adopted a dog, numerous cats and a wabbit there. Not all shelters are bad places but it is still so sad to leave the animals behind.

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    1. Hi Emma, There was a dog there I fell in love with and was going to feature her on Tuesday. I looked on the site for her stats and was thrilled to see that she'd been adopted on Monday! Yay!

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  5. Everyone can do something. At SlimDoggy, we fit it into our busy schedule by taking foster dogs on walks and runs with us. Gets them out for much needed exercise and makes them more adoptable.

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    1. That's terrific SlimDoggy! PetSavers allows people to take the dogs out after a training session for that also. The dogs get to wear an "adopt me" vest. While I was visiting a lady took three different ones out for a day trip. Great publicity for them. Thanks!

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  6. What a great post Melissa!!!
    I've always feel the same about shelters to. Heartbreaking, and the commercials don't help our way of thinking!
    Good for you though! And I loved this post today!
    ((Husky hugz))
    "Love is being owned by a husky"

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    1. Hey Jenna, It was such a relief to realize that it was not the way I had built it up in my mind! I don't think I'd feel the same about visiting a shelter where the pets had a "shelf life." I'm glad you liked the post. : )

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  7. You're not the only one who gets nervous about visiting a shelter. My worry has always been that I'll end up bringing all the pets home beyond my financial and time ability to give them the care they need. Thanks for the suggestions on other things we can do to help as well.

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    1. I know exactly what you mean. My mind was made up not to be swayed into bringing a pet home. No matter how tempting! The financial and space restrictions are one of the reasons I think so many dogs end up there in the first place. It's a great place to go play and help for people that can't have pets of their own.

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  8. I'm the same way...we don't want to close our eyes to sad situations, but we don't want the depressing images burned into our brains either. So I'm very impressed that you went to the shelter, and glad that you found a positive place for dogs. Great post!
    Peggy
    Be the Change for Animals
    Peggy's Pet Place

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    1. You are exactly right. I would have been beyond comfort if all the dogs and cats were miserable. It'd be great if they could be in real homes but like I said, they are better off than many others. Thanks for the wonderful comments.

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  9. Ohmigosh - Bentley is it? Adorable picture! I love him!
    But I've digressed.
    Wonderful post - great cause! I understand the hesitancy to visiting a shelter but it's really not so bad. A lot of rescues around here run on a foster-home set up, which means there is no shelter to visit (or pay for), which I think has good and bad parts. They instead rely on adopt-a-thons, community events, and weekend time slots at pet stores to showcase their animals to the general public.
    And glad there were some people there representing the younger generation! I remember reading somewhere that millennials (a group of which I am technically in, I think) as a group trend towards volunteering time rather than money, whereas previous generations volunteered funds more often. Not sure if that's more a generational thing or just a resource thing - new careers, student loans, and entering the workforce in a recession often means all there is to donate is time (for now). But the downside is that charities as a whole are seeing fewer monetary donations come through their doors.

    On this note, I'd like to add to your bullets to check your company's policies for donation matching! Many employers will match taxable donations made to charities by their employees (usually up to a $ limit). Mine does - I definitely take advantage of that!

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    1. Hi Jen, Yes, that's my Bentley. Thank you, he's my love! PetSavers does take a group of adoptable dogs to Petsmart once a month. They also have adoptable cats available at the store as well as foster homes. They are simply inundated with homeless pets so they have to do whatever they can to make room. I agree with you about the generational differences. Being a "Baby Boomer," I think most of us were taught if throw money at something, it will simply go away. I'm glad to see the younger people actually getting involved and offering their time as well. Your addition about the matching funds is great. I wasn't aware that companies did that for organizations other than United Way, etc. Thanks for your comments!

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  10. What a great post and I am glad you finally went and visited the shelter that means the most to you. I am like you and cry at a drop of a hat and your post made me cry in a good way. Nice of you to visit see what a shelter is about and spread the word which is grand! Thank you!

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    1. Thank you JoAnn, coming from you that means so much!!

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  11. That is very admirable. Like you I have stayed away from the shelters, they are so sad. You make me think that might be wrong.

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    1. I understand completely Amy. It was not anything like I had dreaded and I am looking forward to my next visit. I think you should give it a try, you'll surprise yourself. : )

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  12. That is very admirable. Like you I have stayed away from the shelters, they are so sad. You make me think that might be wrong.

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  13. Great post! I hope lots of folks will see this as I think it's a common misconception (no thanks to the ASPCA gut-wrenching commercials) that shelters are sad places. As you said, if it's a no-kill shelter, it's not necessarily going to be sad to go there! (In fact, I wrote a very similar post last year - http://poochsmooches.blogspot.com/2013/01/blog-change-for-animals-shelters-arent.html)

    And even if folks still think they couldn't go to a shelter themselves, there are still ways to help, as you point out. And if money is tight, you can even just donate old blankets and towels. Shelters are always in need of those!

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    1. That is so true! Their needs are really monumental and there are so many ways, both large and small, that every person can do something to make a difference. Thank you!

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