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Pitching in at animal shelter cures puppy withdrawal

April 30th, 2011 Posted in Arts and Life, Opinion

By Ben Zaritsky

My family has always had an EXTREMELY soft spot for helpless animals, and it shows. At one point, we had 16 cats, four dogs, three birds, two fish and a bunny.

Since coming to Utah State, I’ve suffered from some animal withdrawal, but, fortunately, I found a cure! Volunteering at the Cache Humane Society for the past few months has been one of my most fulfilling experiences since the beginning of my college career.

The Cache Humane Society is a non-profit organization that relies on donations from individuals and businesses to survive. At the moment, they have about 40 cats and 40 dogs. They take in any animal that needs a temporary home.

When I first went to the Humane Society shelter on Valley View Highway, they had three adorable bunnies that were, surprisingly to me, adopted very quickly. They also will, from time to time, get gerbils, guinea pigs and sometimes ducks.

The animals come in from animal control or police officers, who find them on the street, owners give up pets for various reasons.

The recent economic downturn has meant an up-turn in animals surrendered to the shelter—about a 30 percent increase from people who increasingly feel that they are no longer able to afford their animals.

That can be a heart-breaking decision, and the Cache Humane Society offers a program for these people who are giving up their pets for financial reasons. These people may qualify for a program that will provides free pet food for up to three months.

The Humane Society also offers low-cost vaccinations for animals, as well as a low-cost neuter/spay program.

Although the shelter is a wonderful place with a great staff, it is meant to be only a temporary home for these animals. The main goal is to find “forever homes” for every animal that comes in.

At first, I was a little hesitant to volunteer at the CHS shelter because of horror stories I’ve heard from other animal shelter volunteers. Some complain that all they did was clean up after the animals, picking up dog poop, mucking out the kennels, and other boring busy work.

Some people even claimed that they got fleas for their good deeds.

Regardless of these stories, however, I volunteered and the experience has been phenomenal. While I love cats, they do not require as much attention, so I spent most of my time working with dogs.

My favorite job was walking and playing with the dogs. I felt very fortunate to be able to spend some time with almost every one of the homeless dogs, and learned about each of their personalities. They have a lot of different breeds of dogs, and dogs of all ages.

The shelter staff is wonderful, but they are also very short staffed, so the dogs don’t usually get to play when the volunteers are away.

I also picked up dog poop, of course, washed dishes, and cleaned kennels. But I was happy to do these tasks. Volunteers are by no means required to do anything like that. Some volunteers come in and only walk dogs.

Every volunteer there is important and the staff is grateful for any help.

I never looked at volunteering as a chore, but more of an activity. The hardest part about volunteering was not taking home every single dog I met!

For more information on volunteering at the Cache Humane Society shelter, visit the website or call 435-535-1665.


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  1. One Response to “Pitching in at animal shelter cures puppy withdrawal”

  2. By Michelle on May 8, 2011

    Hi there, thanks for the input. Appreciate the effort taken for sharing your insights. Here is something that is of interest to the readers as well. Do check it out. Cheers.

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