Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Whatever Happened To....

The frustrating part about working at a shelter is not knowing where the animals go when they leave.

It's always a good thing when an animal is adopted. TAS South is a great shelter, but that's what it is - a shelter. And that's never ideal for an animal in the long term. When they leave, we assume that their new people are taking them to a home where they will be loved and spoiled, and hopefully, we'll never see them at a shelter again.

There is always a nagging doubt, however. The people who adopt from shelters are wonderful, especially for small animals because so many people go to pet stores. But they can't all be perfect, and every time an animal goes home, you think - do they have a good vet? what if they don't have the right cage? do they really know what they're doing?
And then you never hear from them again, and you have to simply assume the animal went to a loving home or you'll go nuts.

The photo above is of Mikey, a baby cockatiel who showed up at the shelter. Birds disappear within a few days normally, which is good, because they are especially not suited to the shelter environment. The first day I saw Mikey, he wouldn't let anyone near him. I assumed he would be gone soon like all the other birds, but the next week he was there again. I worked with him for hours until we had built some trust with each other. For the rest of the day, he was my buddy, and sat on my shoulder while I worked with the rabbits and cleaned.
Because I only go on weekends, normally my animals disappear while I'm not there. I happened to be there the day Mikey was adopted. A family took him home; they weren't very experienced with birds, but they seemed to genuinely like Mikey and have interest in him. And cockatiels are great beginner birds.
I think about Mikey all the time, especially when cuddling my own cockatiel, and hope with all my heart he got a great home.

Every time one of our animals gets adopted, I am thankful. Thankful that the animal has found a home, thankful that someone chose a shelter over a pet store, and thankful that we have room for another rescued animal. I will also, however, always wonder where they went and if they're happy. In the end, you have to have faith in the shelter's people and policies, for weeding out the bad apples, and in the kind-hearted people who adopt from shelters, for being good pet-owners.

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