Helping the Little Animal Refugees

Chronicles of an Animal Refuge Volunteer.

Pets & Pet Care | January 16, 2010

I have been volunteering at the Sunshine Coast Animal Refuge for nearly a year now. At first I signed up to do something useful in my some what self centred and pointless life. There was only me and my monotonous and unrewarding job which paid the bills.

I could have done it earlier but I have been to these shelters before and I always going away feeling sad. Then I realised how selfish that was, these animals needed help and I was not helping them by not going because of how sad it made me. What about the cats and dogs living in limbo there?

Yeah the first day was tough. I only lasted two hours. The local council pound is right next door. The cats and dogs stay there for 6 days to be claimed by their owners. If they don't get picked up then they are sent to the refuge where they stay until some one comes along. They have a strict non-euthanasia policy so no animal will die unless its due to poor health. The animals do not have an expiration date. They will be loved and cared for until they find a "forever" home. I was there when the next lot of unclaimed dogs came through. It was like a scene in a prison movie, when the new in mates come in and the old jail birds stir them up, calling them names. The dogs were barking at the new arrivals, the new comers were shaking, timid and scared. They had just spent 6 days locked away in a pound, no sunlight, away from home, lost and confused then this. They didn't realise that they were actually entering a much better place. At the refuge they are walked daily, fed well and have their veterinary needs met for as long as they need. They will be de-sexed, wormed, inoculated and micro-chipped so no more babies or roaming males which may have got them in this mess in the first place.

I didn't realise all this on my first day. I just saw animals in pens, without homes and new dogs coming in scared and intimidated. I know of my female friends there who said they went home crying thinking about the animals there after their first day. It can't have been that bad because I went back the next week. I worked through the barrier and just put the animals first. When you see a dog caged in a run you automatically just want to take them out and give them a walk. Not just a walk but a cuddle. You don't know what they are going through emotionally and its not their fault they were put there. Humans' leave gates open, ignore and neglect them so dogs dig holes under the fences and get out. Abused animals always flee from fear at any cost. Sometimes having no home is better than living in an abusive home. Humans run away for the same reasons. People don't de-sex their animals and so males roam following their instincts and its people who dump pregnant females in the bush or dump pups and kittens to let them go feral.

Its just accepted in our culture that animals feeling don't matter. Their devotion, loyalty and unconditional love is so under valued. They are deemed so disposable. That's why over 250,000 cats and dogs are killed each year in Australia because no one wants them. It's disgusting that in a world desperately needing compassion and unconditional love that we destroy the very things that give us such emotional security. How ungrateful is the human race?

You do see some pretty horrific cases. There are dogs afraid of men, leashes, loud noises and who cowar in the back of their pens in sheer fear. In a way its good that animals can't talk because if you could hear what they have gone through you would want to take them all home and protect them from the world.

It is actually confronting seeing what cruel things people are capable of doing to defenceless animals. The sheer neglect is unbelievable. We get starving dogs, some covered in mange, fleas and ear mites. Absolutely preventable diseases which were allowed to get out of control because no one cared.

I will leave it there for now. Next blog I will talk about each individual case that has touched me and keeps me motivated to keep going back and help those who have been let down by people.


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About Gregg Callow

My main focus on writing is concerned with animals and animal welfare. I am a passionate animal lover and I volunteer at the local animal refuge on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland Australia.
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