It’s easy in the day-to-day to put your head down and do your work and not look at the big picture. Days are busy, and full of pets who need help. You look for the bright spots that make all the effort worthwhile. The success stories, the families we keep together through supportive services, the person who managed to come across us in their search for someone who can help, because they need that help right now.
But there are people who take the wide view, and thank goodness, because they give us in animal welfare a way to measure the progress we’ve made and how much further we need to go.
This article explains something we’d seen anecdotally but didn’t have hard data for: namely, that we’re at a crisis point in animal welfare because of the pandemic. People suffered, for sure, but more than that, many people were out of work, had been laid off. They didn’t have the resources they needed.
And they didn’t have the funds to get their pets fixed.
Think about that for a moment. We’ve had decades of steady progress towards the goal of getting the population of dogs and cats under control so that we don’t have to euthanize pets for space, pushing and pushing against the flow of new pets into the community. And while it hasn’t been totally undone, it’s definitely been a setback. Shelters are getting overwhelmed. We’re seeing it all the time on social media. They’re waiving their adoption fees because they simply need the space.
But there’s a line in a song I love that goes, “A setback can be a setup for a comeback if you don’t let up.” With every setback there’s an opportunity to rethink and come back stronger. What this means is that for those of us who work in shelter intervention, our work is more important than ever. It can be hard sometimes because the problem is so overwhelming, but we can’t give up. We’re all in this together. The shelter’s problem is our problem and vice-versa.
So we’re working harder (and smarter). We’ve blown past the 35,000 pets we saw last year and are on our way to 40,000. We’ve started low-cost dental and urgent care services to try and fill the gaps left by the pandemic. And we’re expanding, fundraising to expand our building to serve even more pets and people.
Because it’s needed. Because we care. Because we’re not going to stop.