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Loving Animals

I could never do what you do. I love animals too much.

People say this to animal welfare workers on a daily basis. And we hate it. It’s a matter of interpretation, or misinterpretation.

When Joe Schmoe says this to me as I’m scooping up Fluffy (who has just been hit by a car and is bleeding and whimpering), what he means is, “Wow, seeing this animal suffering is breaking my heart. I couldn’t stand that kind of heartbreak every day.”

What I hear is, “I really love animals so seeing them suffer would be too tough. I guess you don’t love animals or you wouldn’t be able to do this job.” Ouch.

The reality is that animal welfare workers do the job for no other reason than because we love animals so much. It is a largely thankless position. There’s little to no money going around. And our daily experiences include things like being vomited, urinated, and pooped on. All while trying to communicate with species that don’t even come close to speaking our language so figuring out how to help them can be an impossible puzzle.

Many times, we can’t figure out that puzzle. Our hearts get broken every day, several times a day. Because we can’t figure out how to make these animals better. We don’t have the resources to find a home for Fido who is so scared that he bites everyone. Or Lucky, who was lucky enough to survive being hit by a car but who now has a broken back. Each of these animals is a puzzle piece, but they don’t all belong to the same puzzle. There are societal puzzles, financial puzzles, and medical puzzles. Sometimes the individual pieces just don’t fit. And that means that sometimes we can’t save them. So instead we hug them and pet them and speak softly to them as we send them to heaven.

I ignore Joe Schmoe as I ease Fluffy into my ambulance, tending to his wounds and calming his nerves. Fluffy comes first, so I don’t have time to enlighten Joe. But if I did have the time, here’s what I’d say.

“I love animals too much to not do this job. I can’t turn my back on their suffering. So I’ll help them, even when it breaks my heart.”

Categories: Pets Tags: ,
  1. Chuck Truitt
    March 6, 2012 at 5:40 pm

    my God, I am so proud of you!!! Keep up your good work. My heart is always right there in your pocket.
    I love you —-Dad

  2. March 6, 2012 at 8:38 pm

    Well said Liz….

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