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Fighting For The Animals

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Since I am disabled, I volunteer regularly at several organizations instead of working. One of those organizations that I volunteer at is the local Humane Society. I did that 4 hours a day, twice a week for the past 5 years. I socialized the cats while I was there as well as assisted people with selecting and adopting a cat. In addition, I volunteered at outings regularly.

Since a new director arrived there in March, things have deteriorated greatly. She is very controlling and more of micro-manager than I have ever seen. They were allowing cats health to deteriorate. Some things that were occurring could have even been considered inhumane. Volunteers were no longer respected like they once were. In fact, they were treated poorly. Acting as adoption counselors was virtually eliminated. And that is what I found the most joy in. I had other duties there that gave me even more responsibility than many other volunteers. Those activities were curtailed at the detriment to the animals.

Thursday, I was in the process of doing one of my other duties which is crucial for the advertisement of the cats to the general public. When I went to find out the status of some cats I couldn't locate in the shelter, I was treated rudely and yelled at by the customer service staff. I was not given the information I needed. If the customer service staff treats me that way, you can imagine that they aren't that helpful to the customers either.

Friday, I decided I could no longer tolerate being in such a hostile environment. It was one of the hardest decisions I've ever made. I went into the director with a friend and we informed her that we could no longer bear to witness what was happening at the shelter and her behavior. She displayed very little emotion. What she did display was an indifferent attitude with a few smiles and chuckles showing her amusement at what was happening. She appeared to be thinking, "Whatever." When you are losing two of your most vital volunteers to a non-profit organization, you would think someone would be a little upset about the whole deal. Shouldn't you rethink what is happening as an organization, especially with one of the people being a major donor to the organization and losing that donation?

I'm very upset about the decision to leave there. But I am not going to miss the staff who treated me with disrespect. I am going to miss the cats. They will be hurt by me leaving. They will not get taken out on a regular basis or be given toys to stimulate them in the cages. I won't be there to fight for their cause. That makes me really sad.

This has really impacted my food plan the last couple of days. I am stress eating. I am making conscious decisions to overeat. Why am I doing this? It isn't helping the cats! Exercising probably would help relieve some of my stress. But the most I can do right now is walk slowly for about 20 minutes due to a back injury. So exercising the stress away is not an option. My weight is already starting to reflect my poor eating.

Hopefully, writing a letter to the board of directors will help in relieving some of the stress and get my eating back on track. That is all I can do to fight for the animals now. Hopefully the board will decide to act rather than to continue to defend the poor policies of the director.
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  • CLASSY76
    Thanks for all your supportive comments. I sent the letter to the board of directors about a week ago and have received no response even though I provided both my address and phone number in the letter.

    As far as filling my time, on one of the days I volunteered at the Humane Society, I have now offered to volunteer at Health Net, a free community clinic for low income people without insurance. In addition I am continuing to volunteer at the domestic abuse shelter and hospital.

    There aren't any other rescues or shelters for cats located in town that I am aware. At least, none are listed on Petfinder. There is a woman who is considering starting a local rescue for dogs and possibly cats and rabbits. A couple of people who were previously involved with the Humane Society are meeting with her next week. Since the Humane Society is no longer fostering cats, there is a whole bunch of foster homes looking to foster cats in the area. Since the volunteer coordinator that was recently fired from the Humane Society also ran the foster program, she has the list of all those foster homes. (The volunteer coordinator was fired because she went to the board of directors with the problems.) I have offered to maintain Petfinder for the rescue as well as help in other ways. We will see what comes of that.

    3163 days ago
    Oh Becky, I am so sad to read this - I know how much you both put in and got out of working there. How I wish I had a volunteer who gave so much of her time and care over the 21 years I ran my Yorkie Rescue.

    Let me know what reaction you get to your letter to the Board of Directors.

    This will leave a big void in your life, but food is not the thing to replace it as you already know. Do you have any other rescue centres near you? It is important to have somewhere where your skills can be utilised, your time spent fruitfully and more important where YOU feel VALUED. You have so much to give.

    Finding another outlet for your love of animals, utilising the skills you have would, I'm sure, go a big way to relieving the stress AND restore your sense of self-worth, but you also need to know that your self-worth doesn't depend on what you do, but who you are.

    Please know that your support of others here on Spark is greatly valued, and once again thank you - I really appreciated your kindness during wee Talitha's illness and subsequent death.

    Love from Cas, Tommy and new addition Tychalyna. emoticon emoticon emoticon
    3163 days ago
    It's shocking that a volunteer for a HUMANE society should be treated disrespectfully. We have volunteers where I work and I wouldn't dream of treating them any differently than a regular employee. I'm sorry that the kitties won't have your tender, loving care but eventually you'll be unable to provide that as you would become unhappier in your surroundings. A letter to the Board of Directors sounds like a great idea. Good luck to getting back on track. emoticon
    3169 days ago
    I'm sorry for your stress over want is happening at the shelter. Most shelters realize people like you are the backbone that keeps them going. I know around here they are very happy to have loving, caring people help with the animals. It sounds like they no longer care if the cats will get adopted and that is sad. I'll pray your letter is a wake-up call about what is going on. Maybe a few more people could also right letters to re-enforce your points.
    Hugs to you and hope your eating gets back on track.
    3169 days ago
    You're much better out of there, painful as leaving was.

    If the animals are being allowed to suffer bad health, I agree with the others that some letters to the SPCA or city government may be in order.

    I hope you find something you love just as much to take its place.
    3172 days ago
  • JODY-S.
    Becky, what can I say that the others haven't already said? All I can do is echo their sentiments. I am so sorry to read of your ordeal. Hopefully, the letter writing will help to not only relieve you of some of your stress, but also help make some changes for the better at the Humane Society. Rosewood 332 made some excellent suggestions. Good luck on your quest and know that your Spark Family support you all the way.

    emoticon , Jody
    3172 days ago
    After this stressful experience, taking positive action should help. Writing to the board is a great idea. Because this is a public organization, you might also write to the mayor, the local and national SPCA, and to the editor of your local paper. Meanwhile, I am sure there are private animal shelters or groups that would appreciate your experience. Good luck. Keep us advised!
    3172 days ago
    Becky so sorry to read that you're going through this difficult and stressful time!! The organization and the cats most of all have lost a great caring person!! I hope for the cats sake the board takes a long hard look at the letter you write!!

    Take a deep breath, relax, deep breath, relax.....

    Have a great day! emoticon
    3172 days ago
    Becky, What an amazing article to read, you are so wonderful for helping out those cats, and to be treated this way is really weird. I'm glad to hear you are writing the letter to the board of directors, they need to know how you were treated and what is going on at this facility. Those poor little animals. What a shame. Hoping you will get over the stress this has put on you. emoticon Janice
    3172 days ago
  • ELLENE1955
    I am so sorry to hear that you were treated so badly, after giving so much of your time and love to the animals. You will certainly be missed by the cats, and the people looking to adopt them. Sounds like the new director doesn't have a heart for this type of work.
    3172 days ago
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