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Author Topic: A Day In The Life Of A Shelter Worker  (Read 797 times)

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Offline VerdiTopic starter

A Day In The Life Of A Shelter Worker
« on: February 17, 2018, 01:42:57 PM »


I've had a passion for animals my whole life, since the time when I was a little girl saving frogs from drowning in swimming pools to the woman I am now who rescues animals from abusive owners. It is my life, my purpose for being, my reason for living. I take it very seriously. It brings me a lot of happiness, but it also brings me a lot of sorrow. Working with animals is not easy. There's a lot that goes into it that people on the outside looking in just don't see. I've had people tell me that "it must be fun getting to play with puppies all day long", but that's not what I do. I watch animals die. I watch them suffer. I care for dogs who don't even understand how to act like a dog because they've been stuck in a crate their entire life, their time with me being the only time they've ever felt a loving hand. I rehabilitate broken animals who get scared by just the sound of a door opening, who shake uncontrollably when a human comes near them, because they were beat into submission by a previous owner.

It's emotional, and sometimes I don't know if I'm going to make it through the day, but this is my life. Knowing that I'm changing these animals lives triumphs over the pain that I feel from seeing them hurt. It means so much to me, in fact, that I've made it my mission in life to help as many as possible. Which is why I'm a vegetarian, dogsitter, and animal rights activist. I'm currently working at an animal shelter (where I also volunteer) that I've been at since 2016. I also own two furbabies of my own, an 8-year-old cat named Columbus, who I rescued from an abusive owner (my own mother), and a dog named Chessie, who I adopted from the shelter where I work in 2017. You can see pictures of them below. ^_^

This blog is a place for me to talk about my day-to-day struggles and a way to vent the stress that I feel on the job. It's a way for me to show others what really goes on behind the scenes, and to chronicle my journey through life as I help animals and move up the ladder in my education to do so. I truly hope you all enjoy it!

« Last Edit: May 20, 2018, 08:10:11 PM by Verdi »

Offline VerdiTopic starter

Re: A Day In The Life Of A Shelter Worker
« Reply #1 on: February 25, 2018, 08:54:13 PM »
Working at an animal shelter is truly a pain in the rear sometimes. For the past few months, my manager has been focusing on puppies (which I suspect is because the shelter is struggling financially, and puppies bring in some quick and easy money). We've had several sets of them come and go for about three months now, and we just got a new set in today, which you'd think is fun... but it isn't. Puppies are probably the worst thing to take care of in shelters, especially when there's multiple sets of them at a time. As much as I enjoy what I do, it'd be nice to take a break from them for a while. It gets stressful and overwhelming having to deal with so many for so long. I hate to sound so negative, but let's go over the pros and cons of these adorable little poop factories so you can see for yourself...

PROS
● They're cute
● They get adopted fast, so they bring in money
● They're young, so they're easy to train
● They bring in more volunteers

CONS
● They're poop machines
● They roll around in their poop
● You can't pick them up without getting covered in their poop
● Their bedding has to be changed at least once an hour
● They'll dirty and soil their bedding immediately after you change it
● They have to be bathed almost daily
● They always come to us with worms, and cleaning up piles of worms after they've been dewormed is disgusting
● They're constantly barking which leads to lots of headaches
● Their teeth are very sharp, and they're constantly biting anything they can get their mouths on including your hands, fingers, feet, and legs
● Potential adopters will ignore adult/senior dogs in the shelter for them
● People make sporadic decisions about adopting them as gifts and end up bringing them back
● They get returned a lot because people don't realize they require so much work

I could keep going... but I'll stop now.

/endrant

« Last Edit: May 20, 2018, 08:12:25 PM by Verdi »

Offline VerdiTopic starter

Re: A Day In The Life Of A Shelter Worker
« Reply #2 on: February 25, 2018, 11:17:17 PM »
A Shitty Poem For Senior Doggos

You may not think I'm pretty,
you may think I've lost my touch,
but if you'd just give me a chance,
you'd see I can offer you so much.

Yes, my hair is graying,
and I may move a little slow,
But I am wise beyond my years,
and have plenty of room left to grow.

I've been sitting here for months now,
hoping to find a family of my own,
but when I bark nobody hears,
they'd rather have a pup who's less grown.

Please help me enjoy my last few years,
in a home instead of a cage,
I'll make it the best time you've ever had,
if you can just overlook my age.
« Last Edit: May 20, 2018, 08:13:42 PM by Verdi »

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Re: A Day In The Life Of A Shelter Worker
« Reply #3 on: March 24, 2018, 12:24:25 AM »
Your blog breaks my heart Verdi, but in the best kind of way?  Thank you for doing a job which is in no way easy and that can often be overlooked/simplified.  I look forward to reading more of it!

Offline VerdiTopic starter

Re: A Day In The Life Of A Shelter Worker
« Reply #4 on: April 28, 2018, 11:06:17 AM »
The past couple of months since I last posted have been some busy ones. One of my coworkers left, and another is leaving next month, so I've been working seven days a week, sometimes double shifts. It's hard not having any time off, but animals don't take a day off so neither do we.

Some interesting things that have happened over the past few months:
• A man came in offering to trade 16g of weed for a puppy.
• Our dryer caught on fire and we were lucky it didn't burn down the shelter (we now have a new one thanks to a generous volunteer).
• We've applied for a grant to get new dog housing/kennels. It'll be very exciting if we're approved! This is something we've needed for a long time.
• We had to euthanize a dog who has been at the shelter for over a year due to her being a foster fail, being adopted twice and brought back, and biting 5+ people.
• I quit working at the vet clinic.
« Last Edit: May 20, 2018, 08:28:04 PM by Verdi »

Offline VerdiTopic starter

Re: A Day In The Life Of A Shelter Worker
« Reply #5 on: May 08, 2018, 01:11:22 PM »
Adopt, Don't Shop

It's the phrase you see on animal rescue sites and commercials everywhere, but does it really mean anything? Yes! It does!

Despite the fact that breeders are certified and have lots of professional looking paperwork to make them look safe and respectable, that's not always the case. We gets dogs from breeders all the time who have health problems and injuries, who come in dirty and with matted hair because the breeders don't care about grooming them. They only care about the money they bring in. They love to surrender their old breeding females to us when they don't want them anymore, and it's amazing the shape that they come to us in. It astounds me every single time and I wonder to myself how such a "respectful breeder" could continue to breed them in those conditions. Just as one example, we got a female from a breeder the other day who's eyes were bulging out of her head and they had to be removed because she went blind due to lack of care. Animals being in this condition from breeders is more common than you think and it happens all the time!

Even worse are puppy mills, where pet stores around the country get their animals from to sell. Receiving animals from puppy mills is one of the saddest things we have to deal with. These are dogs who have not been allowed human interaction, who are stuck in crates and oftentimes sustain injuries from it and/or are permanently disabled, who were never allowed to play or experience life as a dog so they don't even understand how to act like one, who never received basic necessities to live, like food and water, so they're hungry and emaciated. These dogs take longer to get through to because they trust no one. They don't understand what a blanket is, what a leash is, what a toy is. They're scared of something as simple as a collar and they shy away from any and all human contact. If not their state of fear and neglect, just the look on their faces as they back away into their kennel when someone comes near is enough to break your heart.

So please, if you're looking to add a furry member to your family...

Adopt, Don't Shop
« Last Edit: May 20, 2018, 08:24:05 PM by Verdi »

Offline VerdiTopic starter

Re: A Day In The Life Of A Shelter Worker
« Reply #6 on: May 08, 2018, 02:07:35 PM »
Working at an animal shelter is not an easy job, and it's not one that we get recognition for. There's a lot of emotional and physical pain that comes along with it. As I've stated in this blog before, we get so many people who think all we do is play with puppies all day long or, in the words of a volunteer today, all we do is "let dogs in and out all day and that's it." This job is more than just socializing with an animal when we have the time or letting them outside to pee, and it honestly offends me when people think that's all that we do.

My day consists of taking care of up to 60 animals in one shift, all by myself. While that does include letting them out to use the bathroom every 2 hours, it also includes feeding them, medicating them, performing behavior modification exercises with the aggressive ones, giving physical therapy to injured ones, cleaning kennels, doing laundry, cleaning urine and feces and vomit, evaluating their behavior to notice any changes in it, keeping a log of when they get sick, bathing and grooming the ones who need it, taking care of volunteers and guiding/training them, training new staff members, doing adoptions, cleaning litter boxes, setting up kennels for new animals, transporting animals to and from the clinic, comforting fearful dogs, landscaping and maintenance when it's needed, and many many more things that I'm not going to continue to list here.

It's a hard, dirty job and most people don't realize it. We've had new employees quit because they didn't realize everything that truly goes into a shelter behind the scenes. Rain or shine, we take care of these guys no matter what. And we usually go home covered in mud or rain, urine, poop, or drool, as proof of it. So if you meet a shelter employee, volunteer at a shelter, or visit one to meet a new dog or cat, take a second to thank them for the hard, emotional work that they do.
« Last Edit: May 20, 2018, 08:26:17 PM by Verdi »

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Re: A Day In The Life Of A Shelter Worker
« Reply #7 on: May 09, 2018, 04:10:10 PM »
Thank you for taking care of these darlings.

Offline VerdiTopic starter

Re: A Day In The Life Of A Shelter Worker
« Reply #8 on: May 20, 2018, 07:54:17 PM »
As much as I write about how hard the job can be sometimes, I want to share some good things as well.

This week we received 3 animals, all of which were going to be euthanized prior to coming to us.

Two are pitbull puppies who have severe paw deformities. They were going to be put down because they "can't walk." After only one week of having these guys in our care, they're up walking. A little faith in these guys coupled with some physical therapy and they're on their way to being able to fully walk and run. It's amazing that we were able to do that for them in just one week, when the other shelter that housed them was going to give up on them.

The other animal is a cat with CH. CH, or Cerebellar Hypoplasia, is a condition where the Cerebellum, the part of the brain that controls coordination and fine motor skills, does not fully develop. This causes the animal to have trouble walking. They fall a lot, can't control their legs, and usually end up moving around by using their paws to pull/scoot themselves along. With a lot of love and a little bit of modification to one's home, cats with CH can live wonderful lives! Their owners were going to euthanize him, so we took him home, put him in a large modified kennel with rough surfaces like blanket, scratching post, and carpet to walk around in for better traction, and he's thriving very well.

Cases like these are times when I feel happy and successful doing what I do.
« Last Edit: May 22, 2018, 03:28:51 PM by Verdi »