So today I went out to the pet store to volunteer with the group I attended the meeting with a couple of weeks ago. Even though they had a lot of talk at the meeting about liability, there was no actual volunteer application or information gathering. So even if a dog I help find a home turns into a monster, I figure they can’t find me to sue me. Though after today this seems less important.I arrived at the store a little before my 1 p.m. shift, and there were six crates and a wire pen set up. There were only three dogs though, two in crates and one on a lead. The large healer/akita mix was handed to me right as I walked up. An exuberant and happy dog, Patriot was smart and walked well on the leash. At first I thought that the group had already adopted out half of the dogs, but it turns out an accident on the freeway had left one volunteer with six dogs stranded in traffic. As the afternoon wore on, and the dogs finally showed up, we had a lot of people come and visit the dogs. I used my best library promoter voice to encourage people to adopt the adorable MinPin I took on, once she arrived. We walked the dogs through the store, showed off how well behaved and adorable they were, and we were turned down over and over again. After four hours in the store, we adopted one dog to a store employee and a cat from a different rescue group.
So since all but one of the animals we brought out went back to the shelter, was my time wasted, did I do any good today?
While walking around with an overweight MinPin balanced on my hip, I thought about this, while I talked with dozens of people I pondered if there wasn’t another purpose to our presence in the store. There are two parts to this.First, adoption events like this help educate people about the availability of adoptable dogs in shelters and with rescue groups. While the dogs we had at the store today might not be a good match, or now might not be a good time for bringing a dog home, we are spreading the news that there are dogs in shelters that are well behaved, healthy, and in need of homes. Several times I pointed people towards Petfinder.com as a good resource to find a dog of a specific breed. As I told people over and over about little Freedom, who was spayed, up-to-date on her shots, house trained, good with kids, dogs, cats, crowds, and just needed a little diet, I was really telling them that there are good dogs out there in shelters. I hope that my words will help them to choose to adopt next time.
Second, for four hours today little Freedom had just that: freedom. She was out of her crate nearly the whole time, carried or walked around the store, and loved on by everyone she met. Unlike some of the dogs, she was relaxed and happy, and would literally jump into the arms of the volunteers. To her, being out of the shelter, being with people, was a gift we can give her. Even though I can’t take her into my home (city law limits houses to two dogs), I can give her attention and affection. Many of the other dogs also benefited from socialization, affection, and exercise. It is true that these events can be stressful, but for many of the dogs the benefit out weighs the harm.
So, I think I will continue to spend some small part of my time trying to help the dogs in some little way, and hopefully helping people see that there are good dogs out there to bring home. And I’ll encourage all of you to look on Petfinder for your next pet!