What does it mean to you to work in animal care?
It means that I can help these animals get a second- or third, or fourth- chance at a happy life. I can put more happiness into the world in what small way I can. Also, the weirdos I work with are all as passionate about what we do as I am and it’s amazing to see how much they genuinely care and feel myself reflected in them. Especially the weirdness bit. We’re very weird. It’s…probably contagious.
What are some of the best parts of your job?
Without a doubt, it’s turning a life around. Seeing a creature come in utterly miserable, whether that’s mentally or physically or both, and having a hand in seeing them get better and thrive and go on to live their life with a family who chooses to love them. That’s the most gratifying feeling you can have, I think.
What are some of the hardest parts of your job?
Grief. You can’t save everything, though anyone can tell you we all put our hearts and souls into trying. Even just seeing how the ones we do save have suffered causes grief and heartache. We always say we treat each animal here like they’re ours, and it’s true. It’s not even an exaggeration. Support from my team when we lose a beloved creature, which is thankfully far far FAR less often than them getting adopted, plus therapy is what gets me through. Grief, even if it’s uncomfortable, is important too. It shows us how much we care, and how important it is to show love to those around us.
Oh, runner up is wearing PPE in the summer. Seriously, it’s so sweaty. Ugh.
Have you had any moment that has really stuck out to you as a reason you keep coming back? Or, why do you keep coming back?
I work around a lot of contagiously ill animals, some of which are quite scrunkly and disgusting at first. (“The word used to describe something of a “cute but scraggly and scruffy”, almost cutely off-putting appearance.” – urban dictionary) Those particular ones always burrow into my heart like some kind of mind controlling parasite and I find myself obsessively compelled to dote on them and help them de-skrunkle-ify. So far, a lot of those have been adopted, and every time it happens, it gives me a like, whole months supply of serotonin.
Or, when I come home extra tired and worn down, I spend time with my own beloved family. They both came from Asheville Humane, and I couldn’t ask for better companions. I know I wouldn’t have them without the kind of people who work here doing there thing, so I’m always grateful.
Why do you feel so passionately about animals?
Animals have always been a part of my life. I’ve known some amazing animals growing up and have seen how unique each one is. Goofy, nurturing, loyal, protective, accepting. I’ve always seen every animal I live with as an equal member of my family. As an adult, I realize that not everyone sees them that way, or has the resources and privilege to have them in their family. Animals can’t usually speak or do in the human world for themselves, so trying to help them is my way of giving back to every creature who had a hand in making me who I am.
What do you want the public to know about your job?
Two of the first opinions I hear when it’s perceived that I work at an animal shelter are these: “Omg you get to snuggle with puppies and kittens all day, I’m SO jealous” or general cringing and hesitation because the person thinks it’s a really dark, horrible place to work or think we’re here to spirit away their pets.
To which I say: Yes I can snuggle puppies and kittens! It’s one of my favorite bits! I just do it in between cleaning their many, many poops and other such things! It’s a dirty job for sure, and not all the critters want to be snuggled. It’s rewarding, but it’s very physically and mentally demanding. Especially in the busy summer season. You, too, can snuggle puppies and kittens for the low low price of free if you foster!
And to the other notion, as long as you’re treating them ok, nobody wants to break up a family. Really, it’s not a scary and conniving a place like some people I’ve encountered seen to think. Part of what I’m proudest of about this place is its constantly growing efforts to help the community get what they need so that their furry family members stay happy, hethy, and where they belong- or reuniting family members if they get lost or separated!
Anything else you want to add?
To every single animal who’s walked or been carried out of these doors: I love you so much (even the sassy ones), and thank you for helping me grow as a person. I know you’re all playing an important part in your respective families now. If a human is reading this and thinking “hey I got my friend here” take a minute to know that your friend was and still is loved by dozens of huge hearted people who think about them often. And then give your friend the treat they’ve been telepathically hinting about for ages.