Having worked in animal welfare for years, I’m often guilty of posting adorable photos of kittens and puppies at my office on my social media accounts. Time and time again, I hear the words from friends and family, “you have the best job in the world, getting to spend your days with these cuties.” It’s true. I do have the best job in the world in my opinion. And it’s also true that my days are often interrupted by the smiles and laughs that come from being surrounded by the kittens, cats, puppies, and dogs that we are in the process of rescuing and adopting into loving homes.
But the real reason that I have the greatest job in the world-- the reason that often goes unnoticed and untold -- is because of the people that I am surrounded by day in and day out. They are true heroes. They are my heroes, and the heroes to the thousands of homeless pets we rescue each year. They are also too often unsung, overworked heroes.
They are the staff and volunteers who give of themselves tirelessly to help save each and every one of the dogs and cats that come through our doors, no matter how young, old, healthy, sick, abused, and so on. These heroes don’t discriminate, they only work harder to give each animal the attention, care, and love they deserve. They may work in the adoption center, volunteer cleaning cages, walk dogs, administer to the finances of the organization, spay and neuter, foster neo-nates, assist in saying good-bye to beloved pets at our Memorial Parks, promote the animals on social media, work to keep our grounds beautiful and safe, or help fundraise so that we can rescue even more. No matter what the job or task here at Bideawee, every single person, volunteer or paid, is working toward the same goal. And every single one of them is a hero.
What my friends and family don’t see in my posts, or in many of the social media posts from animal welfare organizations, are the people working day and night behind the scenes to make those happy tales possible. They don’t see the struggles they face each day when saving animals is both a passion and a career. They see the happily-ever-afters, but they don’t see the incredible lengths and sacrifices and work that go into achieving those moments. They don’t see the sadness that comes with having to say goodbye to a long-stay senior pet, or losing a sick dog or cat. And it’s ok that these moments are not always visible to the outside world. But I want you to know, that while we are privy to incredible moments of joy, animal welfare is often grueling work and can be mentally and physically exhausting. And still, the team keeps going, for the love of pets.
So, next time you see a post of a funny kitten or a cute puppy, or the next time I post an adorable photo of an adoptable animal, try to remember that there is an army of people-- unsung heroes—who, went above and beyond to make that happen. And If you happen to go into a shelter to adopt a pet, take a moment to thank the volunteers, the person at the front desk, and anyone else you may meet along the way. They deserve it and more. They saved a life today.