Volunteering At A Local Animal Shelter

Laying printed out on the corner of my desk is a flyer for volunteers needed for the Rockingham County Animal Shelter. They need people to clean cages, feed and water animals, take pictures of the animals, escort animals to vet hospital if needed, and help answer the phone and assist the public when they come in. There is a disclaimer on the site, "Can be heartbreaking and tough to deal with so must have a strong heart and the will to help. It is also rewarding to help get animals adopted and into loving homes."

I desperately want to help but I'm so afraid. Our shelter is... struggling. Most animals are held only 24 hours before being put down simply because there isn't the staff to care for them or the room to house them or the money to feed/care for them. I just don't know how I'd do going in and being surrounded by animals that I know are scheduled to die in the next 12 hours. It makes me practically throw up just thinking about it.

But then I get angry at myself. So it's hard. What a pitiful excuse. Isn't it better that these animals receive love and attention--no matter how brief--before they die? Wouldn't knowing they at least had someone be kind to them for a short respite be better than nothing at all?

Then I think of having to stand and walk away at the end of the day from wagging tails and sad eyes and maybe little puppies or cats that are so eager to give their love to someone and who would make ideal pets if only there were time, if only someone would give them the chance and... I don't know. It scares me. Really scares me, having to do that.

But maybe... with time... it becomes a little easier. Never easy. I keep thinking, I need to let someone else do this. Someone with a better suited temperament who won't burst into tears before they're even in the door. But what if there is no one? What if everyone is waiting for someone else to pick up the slack? It's the animals who suffer.

So I think I'm going to do it. Make the call. I can't guarantee I'll last. I'll try. I will. And maybe it won't be as awful as I'm dreading.