Volunteering at an Animal Shelter

Thursday, January 28, 2016

I stalked Last Hope Animal Rescue for a good year.  I wanted a cat, and I wanted one bad.  Or a dog, I wanted a dog too.  I just wanted something to cuddle with and not feel so lonely.

So finally, on a cold day in February, I filled out the Volunteer Application and faxed it out to Last Hope.  I didn't wait long.  The Volunteer Coordinator for a PetSmart location contacted me the next day.  The very store was one I visited the summer before, stalking Last Hope per usual.

I started training and was a bit overwhelmed.  I wasn't sure I could handle all of the tasks but it was hard not to look into the eyes of these adorable cats and kittens and not want to do anything and everything you could to help them.
Mostly, I enjoyed the quiet time I had simply cleaning the cages.  I often volunteered on the late evening shifts when there wouldn't be many potential adopters around.  I didn't like sharing my time with these soft furred purr machines.

Some cats were mean.  Really mean. I was terrified to take any skittish cat out of their cage.  Sometimes I got so stressed out because I didn't know what to do that I would do my best not to cry in frustration.
Then one day in May, a day after my favorite kitten Zoe was adopted, I met Mema.  She was the tiniest thing I had seen come through.  She was jet black with a tiny white spot on her chest.  She hopped on my lap when I let her out and purred non-stop.  When I put her back into her cage to continue cleaning and feeding, she screamed.  And cried.  And jumped around and made a mess.  I've never fallen in love so fast.

Renaming her Charlie, my new best friend arrived a week later after my Friday night shift.  Adopting her and learning how to wrangle her made me a better volunteer for Last Hope.  I grew less terrified of the angrier cats, who were really just frightened.  I learned how to handle them and show them love and I found they were all generally receptive.

 Moving back to Pittsburgh ended my relationship with Last Hope, but it sure was some of the most fun I ever had.  I'm looking for a new organization to volunteer with and I truly can't wait!

1 comment

  1. Hey Jen! I just wanted to leave you a line to tell you how amazing it is that you find time to volunteer, regardless of the busy schedule that is inherent with being a mid-late twenty-something. I'm sure the little fur balls, even the fiesty ones, love having you around to cuddle and play with. And keep writing! You have a unique voice and talent that deserves to be heard.

    P.S. I dig the shoutout to Perks with the new kitty's name


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