The sun is coming up and a new day has arrived. With each new day comes the hope of another adoption and watching one of our deserving animals go off to their forever home. In the meantime, we have work to do.
Next, we have to get right to the feeding of the cats, and the dogs are let outside first so their kennels can be cleaned before their morning breakfast. The cats are fed before cleaning; if not, we would never hear the end of it! As we serve the cats their food we give each of them a special hello and petting. Some may need medicine in their food and some take supplements added in. We know what all their special needs are.
When the cats have all been given their food, I like to check out our isolation room to see if we had any new additions to our shelter family from the day before. When any new cat or kitten is brought to the shelter it has to be isolated from the rest of our residents until it is seen by our veterinarians and been given its proper inoculations. After that, it is housed in one of our cat rooms to be adopted. Some are lucky and get adopted as soon as they are ready, and some take longer. A lot of times people come in looking for a particular breed, color, size, sex, long hair or short hair, and the like. Just because an animal has been at our shelter for a while is no reflection on that animal. It just means the right new owner has not been in to visit yet.
After the feeding comes the cleaning. Each cat is let out of its cage while we change the litter box, wipe down the cage and give it a clean bed and fresh water. A few hugs and kisses and on to the next.
The dog kennels are sprayed with disinfectant and water and then dried. Then the dogs are let back in and get ready to be fed. After feeding, they wait patiently for the dog walkers to come. When they see their first friend come through the door, they all start barking, as if to say, “Take me out first.” While some are being walked, the others are let out to play in the fenced in yard. We have a child’s plastic pool for the dogs to play in and plenty of water to drink.
Back to the cats. After their cages have all been cleaned, some want to play with other cats, toy mice or balls and some need to be groomed. Others simply want to take a morning nap.
When I tell people I volunteer at an animal shelter, most of the time their first response is “How can you stand seeing the animals in cages? I could never work there—it is too upsetting.” The truth is they are better off at our shelter secure in their cage than out on the streets and wondering where their next meal is coming from. Most settle in very quickly. The only cat I can remember that was truly upset in his cage was a black and white male named Hercules. He would cry and reach out from the cage as soon as he saw any person around. His owners had moved and couldn’t take him with them so they brought him to AWS. We tried to comfort him but he was beside himself. He would work himself into such a state that he could not keep his food down. We sent him for tests, but they found nothing wrong. It was all stress. When we took him out of his cage to comfort him he would cling to us so tightly. Finally someone came along and saw his potential, adopted him and kept us updated on his progress. Once he left the shelter and was back with a family, he was a very loving companion to his new clan.
All the animals have their own personalities and little quirks. We have one cat, Mitchell, that steals paper clips and puts them in the dry food bowls that are on the floor. I was wondering why I kept finding the paper clips and the staff told me they had watched him do it. I don’t know why he does this, just that he, along with a lot of others, keeps us amused.
Soon 11 o’clock comes around and we are open for business. We usually have a steady stream of visitors coming throughout the day along with other volunteers that come to walk dogs and socialize and play with the cats. At the present time we have a lot of kittens at our shelter, so it has been a very active place. These kittens don’t want to sleep after breakfast—they want to play. The only switch they have is an ON switch that keeps going and going. When we have so many kittens it seems I get nowhere fast when cleaning. But I do find myself laughing out loud…a lot!
We are in the process of adding an outside cat room to the shelter. This will be just fantastic for our cats that like the feel of the outside and sunshine. The enclosure will be very secure for them but will give them added space to roam—the next best thing to their own homes with their own sunrooms.
We are always trying to improve the quality of life and living conditions for our residents at the shelter. This enclosure is being made possible by a grant. We have big dreams of an addition to our shelter that will be used as a training facility and a meet-and-greet area for prospective adopters to have one-on-one time with their families and the animals they are considering adopting.
At the present time our shelter is busting at the seams, and there is no area that can be used for a quiet get together. Donated funds have been put aside for this addition, but there’s not enough to see it come to life. For now we can only dream of the day when the shelter is turned into the facility that serves not only the good of the animals but the good of our community as well.
At the present time, we are in a state of emergency. Every room is filled at our shelter, and we are worried with the cold weather around the corner. We need to have space to be able to bring strays in out of the cold. Our cat rooms are filled to capacity. If you or if you know of anyone who is looking for a cat or kitten, please come in for a visit. I guarantee you will find one that captures your heart. Maybe you or someone you know would be able to foster cats or kittens. This is a wonderful way to get the benefits of an animal companion without the long-term commitment.
When you lay your head down at night, please say a prayer to St. Francis of Assisi to keep our shelter animals safe and help us so that we may one day have the facility that we at AWS have been dreaming about: St. Francis, please keep our shelter animals safe and may they all find their forever homes. May we one day have the facility to train and house them so they are ready and able to be loyal family pets. May there be no more pain and suffering at the hands of unworthy owners and puppy mills. May people finally understand that animals are feeling and loving creatures that feel pain and heartache just as we do. May there be no more “sale for profit.” May they all have the chance to be the loving companions they were meant to be. May we one day walk into our shelter and have nothing to do.