Pet Talk

15 years ago

by Cathy Davis

    Every year at this time I think of my dear friend Dottie.  Many of you knew Dottie, she was a dog groomer, an animal lover, and a singularly endearing soul with a raucous laugh and the voice of an angel.
   Dottie worked with the animal shelter, grooming our more unfortunate strays who came in all matted or flea ridden, and she also took in the pets who were less likely to be adopted, limpy cats, cats missing ears, one eyed cats.  Life with Dottie was heaven for these animals.  They lived indoors with her but had their own door to the large farm and could come and go as they pleased.   Dottie was truly an animal lover.
    Dottie was also a lover of the Christmas story.  She often told of going to her barn early each Christmas eve and hiding behind the hay, keeping very still and  quiet.  She said that at exactly midnight on Christmas eve, all the animals fell silent, and gently lowered themselves to their knees.   Listening to her, I could almost feel the  scene 2000 years ago as the animals hushed to await the birth of Jesus.
    This is the season that I most strongly feel the responsibility to the animals.  Our mission, those of us who work in animal welfare, is a simple one.  It’s not about who has the biggest building or the most volunteers or the prettiest logo or now, in this era, the best web page.   It’s about the animals, each and every animal.   Our Shelter is mostly set up for cats and dogs.  We’ve also taken in rabbits, mice, hamsters, guinea pigs and birds.  Other Shelter care for horses.  There are farms that will take in abused or neglected cows, pigs, even chickens.  
    There are individuals who do not run shelters at all but every single day they help animals by either volunteering, donating, or just feeding a colony of feral cats.  There are “cat angels” who see a cat in distress and jump in with no concern for their safety or their wallet, they just do what needs to be done.  They rescue the cat, find it medical attention, find it a new home.  Unsung heroes, all of them.   You won’t see them in the paper, you won’t know their names, you could pass them in the grocery store and have no idea who they are and what they do from day to day, but they are heroes all the same.
    We don’t need to be a member of a large organization to do our part, because each one of us can change the world of just one animal, and change the world forever.  All it takes is a little love.  Make sure your own pets are safe and secure, have all their shots and are spayed and neutered.   Make sure to report abuse if you witness it.  Make sure to raise your children to respect all life and to treat animals humanely and kindly.  That’s all it takes, just one small act on your part and the world is a better place for all animals.
    At our shelter, we do the very best that we can to care for the animals that come to us because they are victims of abuse, or lost or abandoned.  We cry tears of joy when a little one eyed kitty who has been with us since 2007 is finally adopted, we cry tears of pain when we must admit defeat and lose a pet who has an untreatable illness.  We feel frustrated when we have to struggle from week to week to pay salaries, and elated when a generous donor comes forward and pays the adoption fee for 10 cats.
    And so this Christmas, I offer you my personal thanks for all you have done for the Shelter this past year to help us take care of these animals, I invite you all to become a part of the animal welfare movement in 2010 in some way.  Start at home, by teaching your children how to treat animals with kindness, start at work with maybe a bottle drive or a “dress down Friday” to support your favorite animal welfare organization (and no, it does not have to be ours) , start by passing the word that spaying and neutering pets is the key to reducing over-population, make sure to check with the Shelter if your pet goes missing, and most important of all, when you go home tonight, give your fluffy little critter a hug, an extra hug, and thank them for all the unconditional love they give you.  Merry Christmas.