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Remembering to Count the Little Successes

When there's so much work to do, it can be hard to remember to count every little thing one does to make a difference.


One at a time.

It’s an old, tired expression. Still, we use it a lot in the shelter because it’s the best way to view our work without becoming overwhelmed.

During a typical day, we see anywhere from 20-25 stray or unwanted animals enter our shelter and many need some kind of work – such as medical treatment or behavioral work - to become adoptable. 

People see animals available for adoption and question “who could possibly give up this dog (or cat)?”  Yet, it happens daily for every reason imaginable and others that would either blow you away, anger you or both.  Dog barks too muchCat doesn’t use the litter boxLandord found outKids are allergicKids got sick of the pet.  We’re movingWe’re getting a divorceWe just don’t want him anymore (from the person surrendering a 10, 11…14-year-old pet with no physical issues).

These incoming animals can bring our shelter population, on any given day, to more than 1,000 animals.  We’re actually at 1,023 today. This includes domestic animals and the sick, injured and orphaned wild animals we care for and release once rehabilitated.

Caring for these incoming animals is daunting enough, yet our work and mission extends well beyond direct animal care. Our Humane Education Department (1 ½ full-time staff and a dozen or so dedicated volunteers) works to reach thousands of children in our county who can benefit from our humane messages.

A group of 16 9-to 12-year-olds just finished our week-long day camp program.  It’s summer; kids can be squirrely. We get it. Yet, we’re sure we had a profound impact on some of them. We know this because we consistently have former campers return to volunteer; some have joined our staff and made this their career!

In addition to the thousands of kids we strive to reach, there are thousands of pets who aren’t fixed, which means they can breed accidentally. We try to get to their owners, to chip away at the overpopulation problem plaguing some neighborhoods.

In a past column, I explained and having a hard time giving away free surgeries.  After a huge push and some grassroots measures, we actually had to issue rainchecks at our most recent clinic!  Twelve spay or neuter surgeries in one morning may not sound like much, but it was huge for us.  

In an environment where we celebrate 12 surgeries (and the accidental litters those pets won’t have), where we make an impact on some of the 16 campers, and, on a good adoption day, place 25 formerly stray or unwanted pets into new loving homes, we absolutely celebrate the individual successes, including these three that are pictured in this article, all from last Tuesday. 

As you can see from the attached photo, "Cosita" is one of those little dogs with a face only a mother could love. Given her advanced age of 14 and limited prospects of being re-homed, she’s a dog many shelters wouldn’t even accept.  We found a home for "Cosita."  

Same for "Lady," a 12-year-old girl. I watched her leave our center riding in the backseat of her new family’s car. They waved, she wagged.

And, late in the day, one of our employees announced over our PA system that "Ace" and "Deuce," a bonded pair of big Siberian huskies age 8 and 11, were being adopted.

Sometimes, we get to count two at a time!


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