As we are approaching one of the humane society's largest fundraisers of the year with all the proceeds going to our low-cost spay/neuter clinic fund, I'm fervently out pounding the pavement (and my computer keys) to sell tickets, gather donations and obtain sponsors for the event. Funny that I couldn't ask someone for a ride home if my car broke down but am shameless in my efforts to rally support for the cause of homeless animals.
And that includes what causes so many of the homeless and unwanted animals in our community: Animals not being spayed and neutered.
While it should be obvious as the numbers alone should be enough to explain my fervor. Almost 5,000 unwanted animals came through our door last year and more than 1,800 of those were puppies and kittens.
Some people still don't get it or at least seem to be on the fence about this issue.
I hope what follows will get those folks off the fence or at least help explain my overzealous enthusiasm. I'm not just crazy really!
My lunch routinely means a visit to the shelter.
On one such day not long ago, I arrived to see Kelly, our intake supervisor busily moving cats out of the intake office. I knew from experience this wasn't a good sign. This meant we had had a busy morning and not in a good way. We'd received 11 cats in an hour. Inundated with cats and with our shelter already at capacity, this meant these cats or others would have to be euthanized. There's never room for them all.
As Kelly moved by me, I saw her eyes were rimmed in red and full of tears. When she opened one of the cage's where the morning's intake were temporarily housed, I watched her pull a tiny kitten into her arms. Yikes!
This is really bad. Kittens this young require weeks before old enough for adoption. Kittens this young are also terribly vulnerable to disease and don't do well in the shelter.
No matter how much we clean, our ventilation system is outdated, and as such respiratory illness is common. And if that wasn't bad enough, we already had lots of kittens old enough for adoption vying for scarce homes.
As I continued to watch Kelly softly cuddling the kitten, the kittens' mother moved into my view as she began rubbing herself against Kelly's hands. Tears now poured from Kelly's eyes and mine. I don't know what put me over the edge first - Kelly's crying, the mother seemingly pleading for her family or my knowing that because someone's irresponsibility in letting their cat get pregnant, Kelly would have to make the dreadful decision about who would live and who would die.
Having been involved in animal welfare for almost 10 years, I know I've hardened to many things but this was too much for me. I told Kelly I'd be back to pick them up after work. I'd foster them unknowing of what I'd do with them (they'd go in my guestroom for the short term) but I couldn't allow her to do what I knew she would have to.
Not again, at least not today.
This is why we must find a way to get more animals spayed and neutered! Why it must be really cheap! And why we are working so hard to raise money for a clinic. We have to stop producing unwanted animals so the unwanted animals don't have to die. And last but not least, we should stop having to decide who lives and who dies.
So if you see me coming or if you know the poor floor manager who seemed shocked by my bold request for a donation of an WVU chair for our upcoming auction (It's a WVU tailgate and the chair would have been a perfect addition), please know I'm not crazy. I'm not even looking for a ride home.
I'm just looking for help for something much more worthwhile. Something lifesaving!
If you'd like to learn more about our Low-Cost Spay/Neuter Clinic plans or our upcoming event - the Tailwaggin' Tailgate Party and Reverse Drawing, please check out our website at www.hsop.org.
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Carrie Roe is president of the Humane Society of Parkersburg.