HERE’S A VOLUNTEER REPORT FROM SOUTH AFRICAN VOLUNTEER KEVIN VENTER,
To shop or to adopt?
What difference does it make between choosing an animal in a pet store or in a shelter?
Would you give away your child if she has a skin condition?
Would you dump your mother on the side of the road because she cannot control her bowels?
My time at the dog and cat shelter, for the past two weeks has taught me Patience, Hope and Will-Power.
Animal Aware caters for around 350 dogs and 60 cats and it is expanding as I am writing this. In my two weeks as a Volunteer, AWARE took in 5 dogs and 2 cats. Only 2 dogs left – and not through adoption unfortunately. One died at the ripe old age of 15, after spending most of his15 years in a pen with a 15-minute walk to look forward to daily. The other one died from an infection. Not one was adopted!
As I lie down with Viking, a three-legged dog who had been` run over by a car, resting his head in my lap with his eyes closed while I stroke his head, it makes me think that these animals need love too. While I stroke Viking, Loki the poodle, Chiky the mixed greyhound and Nootan the blind poodle are all surrounding me patiently waiting for their turn for a cuddle and love.
I once owned a dog, Bimbo, a beautiful Weimaraner. I left for the UK on a gap year trip and two weeks before my return, she passed away. Eleven years on, I still have not forgiven myself for not being there for her last moments even though her death came suddenly. Beckham the elderly dog who lived his whole life in the shelter, his time had come. The vet asked all the volunteers if one of us would assist in euthanising Beckham and I mustered up the courage to help. As I am squeezing Beckham’s arm to expose the vein where the needle was inserted and the pentobarbital was released, I had my other hand on Beckham’s chest, and felt him take his last breath. It was in this moment I finally came to peace with myself. With a massive lump in my throat and fighting back the tears, I knew Beckham was going to join Bimbo digging a huge hole in the garden, chewing on the biggest supply of bones they could ever have imagined and most of all, running free.
The paw print you leave in the garden will slowly disappear, but you have left a print on my heart. There is always hope right to the end.
Working in the shelter is by no means easy. Waking up every two hours to feed a kitten, cleaning poop, vomit and unknown substances, you need the determination and will-power to wake up at 6.30am, knowing there are mouths to feed and medications to be given, even before the daily walk, bath and cleaning the pens. I take my hat off to the owners and the workers who do all this on a daily basis.
I end this report with a photo that I took that says it all. Hershey is patiently waiting behind the fencing of his pen with only the faintest hope he will ever be adopted, but he still has the will-power to smile.