Pet Talk

12 years ago

by Cathy Davis
    It is easy when it is easy. Kind of a profound statement don’t you think? It’s easy to be a good daughter when you have wonderful parents. It is easy to be a good walker when you have no hills. It is easy to save up money when you have no bills. It is easy to run into the street to rescue a puppy when there are no cars coming.
    How many people have I seen come and go in the animal welfare field who think it’s all easy. The heart and soul are in the right place. They want desperately to help an animal, or many animals, and as long as it’s easy, as long as there is no conflict, as long as everything goes just as planned, they are happy campers.
    Then the day comes when they realize that nothing in life that’s worthwhile is easy. Many of them walk away. They were willing to take the walk so long as there were no hills, but when the walk became a struggle, when one thing went wrong, they could not bear the heartache and turned and walked away.
    We all come into animal welfare with a passion. None of us come into animal welfare expecting heartache. None of us come into animal welfare expecting that we’ll not only occasionally lose a battle, but that when we make choices in the best interest of all the animals, that we will be criticized, chastised, and belittled.
    I can remember my entry into animal welfare, some 27 years ago now. I was a little younger, very naïve, and just full of compassion for the little animals that were lost and abandoned. My first trip to the animal shelter filled my heart with an aching to help in some small way. I looked in those cages, saw the eyes of all the little critters that nobody wanted, and knew in my heart that I had found my calling. Someone needed to be his or her voice. I wanted to be that someone.
    I thought it would be easy. I thought it would be fun even. And when I look back and remember the thousand times my heart was broken because I could not save this dog or that cat; when I remember cleaning up the awful pile of worms from little puppies who had been neglected; when I remember sitting in a cage and hand feeding little Gizmo because she was too weak to eat; when I remember having to carry a tiny little kitten out of his cage because he died simply because he came in too sick to be helped; I knew it was never easy.
    But you know what hurts the most? When you try so hard to save an animal, when you work for weeks medicating and bathing 100 cats to try to save them from an awful disease, when you put your heart and soul into every single moment that you take air into your lungs; what hurts the most is that when you are all done crying your eyes out, somebody out there, who never once offered to help, never once stood by your side, never once said “let me take this one home and work with it,” calls you on the phone and yells at you and calls you names.
    It’s easy when it’s easy. Animal welfare and rescue is easy when you take every animal from every person and save every animal from every disease. Animal welfare and rescue is easy when there are 1,000 homes for 1,000 animals. Animal welfare and rescue is easy when every pet owner vaccinates and spays and neuters their pets and trains them not to be fearful and aggressive.
    But the fact is, it’s not easy. It’s hard. It hurts. It’s painful. It gives you nightmares. For some of us, it’s worth it. For others, they find it just too hard to deal with the pain and they walk away. It’s OK to walk away, not everybody is cut out for this work. Not everybody has the heart for it. I am so very grateful for those who do.
    It’s easy when it’s easy. If you want easy, stay home. If you want satisfaction, fulfillment, joy and laughter; if you want hard work filled with compassion; if you want to be surrounded by people who have a calling and are not afraid to advocate for what is right; if you want to make a difference and are willing to struggle with an occasional failure then come join us.
    We are so very blessed with a board of directors who realizes it’s never easy, who are all willing to put their hearts on the line for these animals, who don’t walk away because of just one failure, just one issue. We are so very fortunate to have a staff with just about the biggest hearts I’ve ever known, who will care for these animals when they come in fearful, lost, confused, and sometimes injured. Our volunteers are the very best.
    But the bottom line is, it’s not about the people. Even though these are the best people I’ve ever had the honor and privilege to work with, it’s not about them (us), it’s about the animals. We are their voice, we do the very best we can, it’s never easy, but is it worth it? Yes, yes and yes.