To my fellow animal lovers of Brown County
To the editor:
My wife Connie and I just got back from La Paz, Bolivia. While there, we were really fascinated by the dogs. Hundreds and hundreds of them. They are all over the place. Some of them might be attached to people, but most of them appear to be scavengers. The traffic in La Paz is like one huge moving free-for-all of cars. We saw signs in Spanish here and there that said “PLEASE, DON’T RUN OVER OUR DOGS,” but that appears to be about the extent of public concern. When we told our Bolivian friends about our American animal shelters, they were really impressed.
For about a year, I’ve been equally impressed. Since last summer, my granddaughter, my wife and I have all spent time volunteering at our BCHS animal shelter, and it has become one of my favorite things to do. The first time I walked in, I noticed how clean the place was. The floors are always swept and immaculate. There is never an odor associated with animal excrement. Often when I arrive, Teresa Gram is there. She is friendly, knowledgeable, dedicated, and very helpful when I have questions.
I work in the room where cats are waiting for someone to adopt them. I change their water and clean the litter boxes. There must be many volunteers who do this, because the boxes are never cluttered with waste. There is always plenty of food in the cages with the cats. Each container has a comfortable blanket or quilt, and they are kept clean. There are often notes attached to the door of a cat container. They indicate that the cats’ special needs are being well taken care of. It’s obvious that, when a prospective pet needs medical attention, they get it.
When I was a business major in college, they taught us was how to ask the right questions. I find myself asking questions like:
1. How many volunteers are needed to keep this place running like it is?
2. How many hours, by how many people are being spent weekly on this project?
3. Is anyone getting paid to work here to keep things running this smoothly?
The answers are: it varies, but there are a lot of people, and they all put in their time for free. They are all volunteers. There is no paid staff.
So I ask myself: How much work is it to find all these stray animals, take them in, get them settled, make sure the dogs get walked every day, make sure they all get fed, make sure there’s always enough food on hand, buy enough cat litter, get the sick ones to the vet, and provide time on Saturdays (or by appointment) for prospective adopters to come and see the animals. And then, spend time fund-raising for food, the light bill, the heating the cleaning products, the cat htter, and a hundred other things? But, because a lot of nice people are willing to do this, we don’t have to put signs up all over town that say: “PLEASE DON’T RUN OVER OUR DOGS!”