Sometimes I hate working in an animal shelter. I got an e-mail last night asking for help from a Camarillo shelter that is full. They have to put down about 20 dogs tomorrow for no other reason than lack of space. These are healthy, loving dogs, but they have no more room.
I look around at our Homeless Animal Rescue Team shelter and feel grateful that we have the room and the means (so far) to help some of the cats who would probably not find room in another shelter. Some have been with us a long, long time — they have not connected with just the right human companion.
For instance, Gladys is a favorite of mine. I’m not sure why, because, at first sight, she doesn’t seem attractive. She’s an older gal, a little moth-eaten around the edges, and she’s very vocal. She talks a mile a minute as soon as you come in and immediately comes over for petting
She won me over with how happy she is to see me. Her voice is a bit loud and sounds a little like an old lady’s — but a smart old lady with all her wits about her, you know? Like the one who used to beat my grandma at pinochle every week, well into her 70s.
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In a regular shelter, Gladys would be one of those cats about whom the staff might have to say, “Who’s got the least chance of being adopted? That’s who’ll have to go.” We know that Gladys might never find that special human who recognizes that her loud voice and rough edges are evidence of the vim and vigor she brings to life — although, here in Cambria, there are a lot of people kind of like her — experienced, energetic and with their wits about them—who might recognize a kindred soul in her.
But, as I said, we're lucky at HART, and so is Gladys; she doesn’t have to die because no one has found her yet.
Perhaps you don’t realize how rare it is to have a shelter where the cats are not kept in cages. When you walk around, you see cats in cat trees, in cubbies, on furniture or even in the open-air patio playing or drinking from a fountain. Is it the most efficient use of space? Not quantitatively; certainly, we could fit in more by putting them in cages.
We’re also grateful to the people of Cambria and other Central Coast communities for the support you have always given the shelter. While we are thanking people, here is a long overdue “thank-you” to all the volunteers, customers and merchants — particularly the Cambria Pines Lodge — for making our recent rummage sale a big success.
Feedback to the shelter after the recent management change has been overwhelmingly favorable. We received many supportive e-mails, phone calls and drop-ins, as well as experiencing a surge of new and returning volunteers.
The HART Board of Directors will be available all day May 14. We invite volunteers, current or past, to come during a general meeting at 10 a.m. to noon, then again from 6 to 8 p.m. to ask questions, get answers, express concerns and offer ideas and comments.
An open house will be held during normal business hours (noon to 5 p.m.) for the public to become acquainted/reacquainted with HART. You can also checkout our website at slohart.org.We look forward to seeing you — and introducing
you to Gladys and the other kitties— at 1500 Main St.
Claire Hawkins and Susan Barghini are members of the Homeless Animal Rescue Team Board of Directors. Call the shelter 927-7377, or go slohart.org.