The Reality

A lot of times I hear people saying they just can’t bear to hear the sad stories coming from animal shelters. I get that, I really do, but the reality is, there is a lot of sadness in animal sheltering.

I am so proud of how HELP is set up, the animals have the least amount of stress possible considering they are in an animal shelter. Most of the animals have a lot of the comforts of a home environment and believe me when I say they are so loved! Staff and volunteers TRULY love the animals in our shelter. Of course, there is never enough time to just sit and let each animal have a lap or the time to walk each dog. That part makes me sad and I wish that volunteers would understand the importance of a visit to just sit and pet or a walk with a grateful dog.

The last month or so have been really difficult here. We have lost a few long time residents, several animals have been returned from adoptions 5+ years ago and we are looking at having to close our doors in a couple of months for lack of financial support. These things alone might be “just in a day’s work” for your average shelter by ours is run from the heart, and we hurt when they do.

On Friday 8/19, we recd a call from a local vet that had a badly injured cat in their office dropped off by a Good Samaritan. That kitty had a microchip that had never been registered by an adopter but we had put it in. We got her transported to our vet and she required immediate surgery to remove her tail that was barely still attached. I wont go into the horrifying details of what had happened to sweet Arabelle, but despite our best efforts, she went to the Bridge on Sunday morning. I hadn’t gotten a return call from the “adopters” over the weekend and the work phone was only taking msgs. Today I was finally able to reach her adopter at her work number and she couldn’t “remember” Arabelle, she had adopted her in 2007, said she didn’t remember what happened to her. Now whether she was lying or not, my stomach was sick wondering “was Arabelle EVER loved?” I will never know the answer to that question. I do know that in her last remaining hours on this planet, we loved her and we fought for her and I believe she knew that.

Several years ago, we TNRd (trap, neuter, return of feral cats) a cat on Main St where we are located. When the kitty first showed up we thought it was another cat named Mike. One night, I was looking really close and saw him closer and said “Oh, that’s not Mike”, and the name stuck “Not Mike” was returned back to the colony and we would see him every few weeks or so. There are several areas around here that feed feral cats, so we weren’t worried. Not Mike showed up more lately and he looked a bit bedraggled and he was now letting us pet him and talking to us.

During the brutal heat wave last month, someone came in and said there was a cat just curled up in the grass and wasnt moving. It was Not Mike. He went to the vet and found that he was pretty dehydrated and his hair was falling out and beyond skinny.  After getting some vet care, he came to the shelter inside to live. He had decided he REALLY enjoyed affection from us humans. After only a few days at the shelter, he wouldn’t eat and went back to the vet. Awesome Dr. Freeman suggested we take him to get an ultrasound of his liver because of some weird numbers in his blood work.

Long story short, the ultrasound showed his liver as being in bad shape, he went back to Belton Animal Clinic for some fluids and was doing better, loving the affection and attention. Calling from his cage for someone to come and give him a cheek scritch but sometime last night be began seizing. This meant his liver had had it, the toxins were too much for his body and so the seizures. At 3:30 today, I held Not Mike in my arms, told him I was sorry for his really rough life and to not be scared. Dr. Freeman told him that he would soon be with the sweet girl he had been caged next to (Arabelle) and he left peacefully for the Bridge.

And I returned to the shelter with 2 cats that had to be examined today. I was thinking how tough things can be especially for totally dependent animals and how sad this job can be and I remembered someone telling me once “well, this is what you signed up for” meaning shelter work. But when I signed up, I did it wanting to save animal lives, not lose them. I am proud of what we do at HELP Humane and will continue to do it, but the reality is, it’s hard and it’s sad and the “happy” times just cant come too often, that is The Reality.

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