A Day in the Shelter

A Day in the Shelter

By Mickey Zeldes  April 30, 2015

I’m sure people wonder what it’s like running an animal shelter, and I’m often asked what I like best about this job.  The truth is, besides the animals of course, is the variety of things that I get to do.  No two days are the same!  Even volunteers that are here often don’t see the whole of what goes on here.

One day may be spent on cleaning and organizing – during our low animal months we spend a lot of time deep cleaning and sprucing up the facility.  Things we don’t have time to get to when we are packed with kittens in the summertime finally get dealt with.  Often I have meetings to attend, as part of the Dept. of Public Safety; I’m regularly meeting with my supervisors to keep them abreast of the happenings over here.  I like to stay connected with the other shelters in the area so periodically there are meetings with the other managers.  Of course there are employee meetings as well to help our staff of part-timers stay in touch with each other and to discuss problems and brainstorm solutions.

Lots of time gets spent on the animals – deciding when an animal is ready to move up for adoption, approving medical care, temperament testing and evaluating animals, working with the shy ones to see if they can warm up, and otherwise making sure that everyone is getting what they need.  I buy supplies and make sure we have the things we need to get the work done – cleaning supplies, collars and leashes, paperwork, etc.  Troubleshooting when things break is one of my least favorite parts of the job – it’s always unexpected and needs to be dealt with immediately.  The urgency and the fact that it’s not budgeted for (who can predict what, and when, things will break?) always makes it a stressful event.

PR and promoting the shelter is one of my main jobs.  Posting on our Facebook page, keeping our website updated, sending out email announcements and putting ads in the paper helps keep us connected with our community.  We strive to make the shelter your go-to place for pet care questions and adoptions.

A lot of time is spent dealing with the public.  I like helping out in the office and do that when we are short-handed.  Answering questions, showing adoption animals, receiving owner surrender animals and strays, taking lost pet reports – one never knows what might come in through the door or what question someone will call with.  It’s actually quite fascinating and a real lesson on our society.  We field a lot of questions from people concerned about strays or their neighbor’s pet that isn’t getting adequate care.  These are tough calls because we all want every animal to be well cared for, but the laws are pretty minimal and enforcing them is difficult and time-consuming.  We do what we can and hope that some education might be enough to cause change.

Just when we start to get jaded by some of the things that we see and hear, someone will come along and adopt a senior or disabled pet and restore your faith in people.  Or a young girl will come in with an envelope of money that she got for her birthday and donate it to help the animals.  Or an adoption alumnus will stop by with his family to show off how well he is doing in his new home – these things just make our day and keep us going!

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