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Discussion Starter #1
Before I try and start my own non-profit, I wanted to get aquatinted with the local humane society and see what they were all about and learn a thing or two. I may even be able to start my program through them so I thought it was important to start there.
Today was orientation. It was okay...but I feel like they only tell volunteers the bare minimum. I think I have a right to know EVERYTHING about the organization that I'm volunteering my time to. Is that wrong? I asked what percentage of animals they put down and the volunteer coordinator said she didn't know. I've seen in print from another local organization that it's about 87% as far as cats go. That just makes me cringe :evil: I guess I left with mixed feelings. They offered me a part-time PAID position as I was leaving. But if I did that I couldn't foster kittens. She said I couldn't bring them in with me :(
What to do...what to do :? I wish there was a no-kill shelter that I could volunteer at.
Sorry for the rambling...I just needed to vent. It's just so frustrating. If any of you have had positive experiences that could cheer me up I'd be grateful :)
 

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Sorry, no positive volunteer experience, but I feel like it would have been if I had chosen the puppy or cat room. The adult dogs were heartbreaking. The conditions were just horrible. The cats and puppies had it pretty well though.

If you're looking to start your own rescue, I think volunteering is a great place to start (plus its helping out). I think you'll start to figure things out on your own as time goes by. Just try to think that they're doing as much as they can on a tight budget and some things just can't be helped.

Are you planning on fostering kitties now that you're just a volunteer? I'd love to do that some day with cats or dogs, but I don't think I'd be able to give them up!

I'm sure you'll do just fine, and good luck!!
 

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I feel really lucky. The beginning of this summer I emailed all the local rescues and said I was looking to help out as a volunteer. The first one to reply was a very close-by no-kill cat sanctuary - pretty much run by one person (and a girl who helps her out), she keeps most of the cats in her house. I guess I don't learn a whole lot about how to run a rescue, I basically just clean litter boxes and dish out food and carry stuff all over and up and down stairs. ;) I'd hate to work at a place that dealt with euthanasia. I hope you do get to foster kitties! I wanted to do that too, but our dog makes that a bit prohibitive right now.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
My plan when I signed up was to volunteer as a foster parent and for special events. After the orientation was over I stayed and began talking with the customer service director. She told me she had a part-time position available and pretty much offered me the job if I wanted it. The catch is that I wouldn't be able to foster tiny kittens that need lots of feedings. I couldn't bring them in with me. The upside to a paid position is obviously the money, but really it would be GREAT experience if I plan to start my own rescue. I would be working in receiving and in adoptions. Plus, as an employee rather than a volunteer I’d have a lot more access and get more information. I haven't worked in over a year now...it may sound strange but I love working. I miss it so much and the prospects of a job, it just makes me all bubbly inside :D. The director said she'd work around my class schedule and it pays $10/hour. I have to let her know by the end of the week.
 

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Can you foster non-kittens? Ie, old enough to be left alone for that length of time? Then you can still kinda get both worlds. :) I'd say you should take the job, but that's just me. You sound like you really would enjoy it, it would benefit you in the long run, it's extra money, and you sound like you really want a job. Whatever you decide, I'm sure you'll be doing something to help out the animals, and that's what counts. :)
 

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Ummm...well, it gets better...and worse.

I think that the lack of day-1 training is because they probably see a lot of volunteers who work a few days, then disappear for a variety of reasons, and it doesn't make much sense to spend eons training volunteers until you're sure that they're going to stick around. Also, summer is when these places get inundated with volunteers, most of whom wander off to school or other things when fall rolls around. They may also be trying to keep you from doing too much too fast and burning out, as well.

Me, I got a wash bucket, a bleach bucket with a scooper, and a few minutes on "how to clean the cages," and "watch out for the big round DLH there, he's a little tough to handle" (rather an understatement :roll: ). I don't work much on the "high end" of the shelter process...I clean litterboxes and scrub cages...I figure there are enough people wanting to walk dogs, deal with adopters, socialize kittens and play with animals, but not a lot of people willing to huff bleach fumes all morning for very little gratification (other than getting your ankles chewed by the aforementioned DLH). There are days when I'd love nothing better than to go do something more enjoyable (like striking myself over the head with a blunt object), but once in a while, you get a nice moment and it carries you through the rough times. I've done a lot of volunteer work for various kinds of organizations, and IMO, this has been (hands-down) the easiest to get burned out on, so it's important to pace yourself accordingly and keep close track of your feelings to make sure that you're not overreaching (which is really easy when you look into those big yellow eyes, feel a paw on your head and then a cat walking down your back to get to the food bowl while you're on your knees scrubbing HIS dried poop off the floor! :lol: ).

I have the good fortune to volunteer at a small, very low-kill shelter (only for major health or behavioural problems, and even so, there are a few problem animals that have just sort of been adopted by the shelter and will stay there until they die of natural causes)...so I don't have to deal with the euthanasia aspect. The hardest part for me has been falling for a few of the cats and knowing that I can't take them home. :( Eventually you'll start greeting everyone you know by saying "What you need is a CAT!" and pulling photos out of your pocket :lol:

I think this is just one of those things that you have to grit your teeth and tough out for a few weeks before people really get to know and rely on you, and then it starts to get better and you start to learn more about the shelter and what makes it tick.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
The director did stress the burn out factor. She said that the position is one of the toughest, mostly because you have to deal with people. These people are sometimes very upset about giving up their animals or finding ones who someone has abandoned. She said if a person can handle that then they can do anything else in the shelter. I'm not so sure I believe that but that's what she said. She said it is VERY high stress. But I like that...it's what I thrive on I suppose.
 

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If I was that wonderful, I'd be there every day instead of once or twice a week (having to make a living gets in the way). The people who really amaze me are the ones who work in high-kill shelters...it takes a lot of guts and love to do that...guts and love that I don't have in me. Somewhere I read an open letter frm a kill-shelter worker to all the people who'd come in and say (trying to be nice) "Oh, I don't know how you manage to do this job, I couldn't because I looooove animals," which is kind of how I used to feel until I started talking to shelter workers and realized that THEY looovvvee animals even more than I do, enough to be there at the end. I tried to track that letter down online all last night but couldn't for the life of me remember where I'd seen it.

I also don't have the wherewithal to deal with people...even when I'm on my way out the door at public-hours opening, I'll hear people talking on their way in to adopt, a mother saying "no, I hate the smell of cats...but we can always bring him back if he smells too bad..." and I just get this overwhelming desire to smack some sense into them. I am NOT the person you want at your front desk! :roll:

So really, I'm doing the EASY part. My hat's off to the people who do the real work.
 

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Gudewife, you are wonderful, anyone who donates any time at all to their local shelter is wonderful in my book. :)
A small rant, if I may. Where is this idea that cats smell coming from??? Cats are one of the cleanest animals you can find, provided the litter box is cleaned out once in a while. Unless a cat has a medical condition, badly needs a bath (which they usually don't) or has incontinent issues, I don't get it. :?
I think people who think "cats smell" just don't like cats.
 

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First...this is not directed at anyone in this forum since it is obvious we are all lovers of animals.

But I wonder sometimes about some of the people that work in shelters. Could it be possible that the workers who actually do the euthanizing just don't care one way or the other about the fate of the animals? I'm saying some because I'm sure there are some who care. I just don't know how anyone can do it. I think for a vet it's easier since they are usually putting an animal down due to incureable disease or age related problems.

I hope I did not offend anyone...wasn't my intention. But I just couldn't imagine a real animal lover doing the acutal euthanizing. You have to be an extemely strong person.

If it were me, I'd have to move out of my house to make room for all the animals I'd end up bringing home! :)
 

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I think that good shelters usually have caring staff, and it is their belief that no animal should be euthanized without someone there to love him and care about him in his last minutes. It is a reality of life that there are too many unwanted animals, no place to house them, and no money to feed them. That is simply part of life at a shelter, and there's no escaping it. Given financial, space, and community conditions, many (if not most) shelters just cannot keep animals forever.

I think that you get somewhat inured to death in that environment, sure...but loving animals, being a strong person, and being a euthanasia technician are not mutually exclusive things. I'd say that a great many of them love animals even when it's not pleasant or convenient to do so, and in our culture, it so happens that sometimes the only expression of that love is holding a cat and talking to him as the needle is administered...and in some cases, it's the ONLY love the animal has ever experienced. It's a very emotionally taxing job, and I am not the least bit surprised that euthanasia techs have such a high burnout rate. The fact that *I* could not handle it in no way means that those who can are inferior to me in their love of animals...in fact, THEY are the ones who are there at the very end, when everyone else has long since ceased caring or thinking about it. Do they go home and cry sometimes? I'd bet money on it.

There are a couple of cats at the shelter that I have made notes on the back of their cage cards saying to call me in if the animal should need to be euthanized, because I want to be there for them. As yet, I haven't had to face this, but I don't want to just close my eyes and pretend that the person on the other end of the needle is some kind of automaton.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
I have to agree with Gudewife on this one. At good shelters where euthanasia is done in a humane way, I think the person there at that moment is the truest of animal lovers, and also is forced to face reality. As a person who has never been there, this is a reality that I try to pretend isn't there. None of us like to think about that back room or building or even get that far in our thought process. That person who is there day in and day out with the needles must go home and give their pets the biggest hug everyday. I bet they never forget how important their pets are to them.
 

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I'm sure you're right, Gudewife. It's not a job I could ever handle either and I sure do think a lot of those people with true feelings for any animal that do this....especially those who let the animal know they are loved in their last minutes.

Our boys came from a No kill shelter. Our Mango came from a No kill - TNR shelter at ASU called MildCats. Too bad it's not the law for all shelters to be No kill - TNR.

check it out: http://www.mildcatsatasu.org/
 

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Discussion Starter #15
To make it a law for shelters to be no-kill would mean coming up with MILLIONS and MILLIONS of dollars for funding. I don't think that's on the top of Bush's list.
 

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Y'know, I think that this is, in some ways, a thought process that we unconsciously adopt (euthanasia techs must not be animal lovers) because it shields us from the possibility that an animal lover just like us must deliberately kill animals every day. I think that most of us would prefer to remove ourselves as far as possible from that long walk down the hall, because it's very uncomfortable to dwell on it, so we need to separate ourselves from the reality of the situation...it could as easily be us helping those animals over the bridge in a humane and loving way, but it isn't. In some ways, we feel guilty because we're not there to cradle an animal when it closes its eyes for the last time, and in other ways, we feel guilty just for being part of a society that makes mass euthanasia a financial and societal necessity. How in the world do you rationalize all of that? The only way is to distance yourself from it as much as possible and to cast a clinical and detached eye at the people who have to deal with it every single day, thinking that they just have to be different than us somehow....they must be...

I know I dread getting the phone call that one of my special shelter guys is going to die, but I'd rather be there to love and comfort him while he slips away than find out a week later...just JMO, though, and a situation that I haven't yet had to face.
 

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aren't humane societies a non profit organization? i know the one by my area is and i dont think they would have jobs that actually pay...
 

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Non-profit doesn't necessarily mean "all-volunteer." Non-profits can and do have paid employees to oversee the running of the business. All the "non-profit" designation really means is that the organization is set up to use any assets acquired to further its mission; then there are some IRS designations of organizations that are exempt from federal income tax, and to whom taxpayer donations are tax-deductible for the giver (yeah, I've done some non-profit stuff in my day). From there, it gets confusing.

But by and large, non-profits often have to pay someone to run the place, especially if skilled labour is necessary to function properly.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Our Humane Society is non-profit but is basically the only organization on the island. The population is right at 1 million so that's a lot for one organization to handle. It's a pretty large organization and does EVERYTHING that you could think of. They have contracts with the city and take care of cruelty cases and what not. I know they have 7 investigators alone...they probably have 30 people or more on staff.
 
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