Wednesday, October 27th, 2021

P Shopper Columns


Animal rescue is an equally heartwarming and heartrending mission to be a part of. It is an environment which perpetually challenges and teaches those who inhabit it, offering lessons which stay with us both in our field and in our lives. I experienced this a few months ago when I unknowingly set myself on a path of involvement with one of the most at-risk populations in animal shelters. Cats who act feral, either due to fear or lack of socialization with humans, are not recognized as viable adoption candidates. There aren't enough adopters for the well-socialized cats crowding our shelters- let alone for those who cannot be touched. This means feral cats comprise a large portion of animals euthanized in shelters each year.

Asking for help
is a concept worth considering
when our burdens become
too much to bear.

The shelter where I work is not immune to the challenges of placing feral cats. This summer our population rose to over 30 ferals at one time. This was in addition to "kitten season," when litters of kittens pour in each year. I was cleaning kennels one afternoon when I began to contemplate contacting a friend who also works in animal rescue. Perhaps I could send her a message, I thought, asking if she could transfer out one or two of our cats. As tempting as the possibility was, I hesitated. Those working in animal rescue are always working beyond their means, overexerting themselves to help just one more... even though it's never just the one more. Finally, I did reach out to her, and within a short time, our correspondence culminated in the transfer of two at-risk cats. Because I had taken the leap- because she had provided a place to leap to- these cats were safe.

The result of that message stayed with me over the coming weeks. I began contacting other individuals, many of whom put me in touch with their connections or committed to helping a pair of cats themselves. I began utilizing social media to locate those who might sympathize with our plight. Months later, I have personally helped initiate and coordinate the transfers and adoptions of approximately 20 cats. This is not an accomplishment warranting pride, but rather, gratitude. It is not until you make your hurdles known that others will help knock those hurdles down- or else bring their tennis shoes so that they might run the race beside you. Many people already are, but until we remove the blinder that is an unwillingness to ask, we will not see them. Asking for help is a concept worth considering when our burdens become too much to bear. We should not judge for ourselves the capability or willingness of others, but we can open the door so that our guardian angels and everyday heroes find it a little easier to come in.

Breonna Loxley is an animal care technician at an animal shelter. She is an avid artist, writer, and animal-lover. She lives with her parents, a younger brother, two cats, and one dog.