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After All Is Said and Done
Looking back after my experience at the APL, I feel like my eyes opened to a whole new group of people I never knew existed. I always knew there were volunteers out in the world, but never realized how much work they do. In my opinion, the APL needs more volunteers. With more volunteers, we can start to see the number of abandoned animals dwindle lower. The volunteers at the APL are caring, compassionate people who give up their spare time to enrich the lives of animals less fortunate than others by participating in strenuous work for hours on end.
The volunteers of the Animal Protective League, or the APL lead normal, everyday lives; however, they dedicate a portion of their time working towards the humane treatment of animals. These volunteers shelter many animals, of all different kinds, and provide for them until they find a new home. The shelters house animals that are runaways or were given to them by their owner. The hearts of these volunteers are full of love and compassion for these forgotten animals. These volunteers not only donate time, but also money as well. The amount of time and thought these people give is outstanding. With the numbers of animals in the shelters still at all-time highs there is a lot of time to give. Some volunteers could easily volunteer everyday for long hours and it is no problem for them. These animals are very lucky to have people like the volunteers who takes care of them and loves them unconditionally. Without the help of these kind hearted people, shelters would have to shut down or close due to money. The animals are like the volunteers’ family. It takes a lot to give your all to helping an animal you may never see tomorrow. To know you may never see that pet again, these people’s attitudes keep the hope alive and spend as much time as possible with the many innocent animals. With the volunteers knowing they might not see the animal the following day or week, they make special bonds with the animals. The volunteers may feel pain if the animal is not there the next day, but they keep that in the back of their mind and know there are a lot of animals that still need attention and care. To the volunteer, the job is very fulfilling. Everyone feels for these poor animals, but a special group of people go into the shelter everyday hoping to change the number of abandoned animals one dog at a time. Some shelters may have very little volunteers, so the conditions are not so paradise-like for the animals. But with help from ordinary people, the shelters can be transformed into a paradise for the pets. These volunteers give their time, money, and heart to hundreds of sick and lonely pets. Knowing you made an impact on so many animals’ lives is gratifying. The volunteers of the APL do outstanding duties by volunteering their time to help take care of society’s unwanted pets. These people are definitely not recognized enough for their efforts or good deeds, but they simply do it knowing it is the right things to do.
To help you get a better picture of what a shelter of the APL looks like, I had the opportunity to visit one a few times and talk to some other volunteers. Immediately after walking in and getting a whiff of the distinct odor, I started to ask myself what have I gotten into. The sounds of “meow and ruff!” were surrounding me all at once as I reached closer to the kennels. I will finally begin my first day of volunteering at the APL. I could hear the yelp of all the dogs anxiously awaiting to get out for their morning walk and I instantly can’t wait to begin volunteering. I did, however, feel a bit overwhelmed with what duties I would be doing and where to even begin. I asked myself how can these volunteers handle the stress of this job day in and day out? I want to make a difference in this world, and what better way than to help out those who have no voice in controlling their own destinies. There was a small, but energetic crowd ready to get their hands-on just like myself. Most of the volunteers were my age or older retirees. Also, we had one volunteer, Mandy, who instructed us on what exactly was needed to be done. The main jobs were left for the veternarians but I first began to help letting all of the dogs out and into the back yard. After they got to have their own time and roam the other, more experienced volunteers there would take them on a daily walk. I got the wonderful job of cleaning the dirty, smelly kennels! My group and myself all dressed in ratty t-shirts and a not so nice pair of jeans. With our buckets full of water and lots of soap, the volunteers and myself got right to work. Scrubbing and scrubbing, the kennels finally started looking brand new and smelling much better. After everyone finished cleaning up their kennels, our guide took us back to the office to talk and get some more information about the APL. They had different brochures on how to volunteer and how to adopt a pet of your own. On my way home, I was thinking about the accomplishments that myself and the other volunteers had made that day. I felt like I had contributed to a greater cause and was in awe of people who do this everyday. The volunteers who do this on a daily basis, I am completely taken back by and have nothing but respect for all of them.
I got another chance to go back to the APL and talk to some of the volunteers and of course help out the animals. I remembered thinking the second time volunteering should be an easy experience, if not an enjoyable one. Nicole, a volunteer I interviewed, quickly put those thoughts to ease though. Every day I do go to volunteer, Nicole quickly puts me to work. She says, “Volunteering at the APL has not only been an enjoyable experience, but one I’ll never forget.” Nicole volunteers at the APL and eventually roped her family into volunteering with her, where they meet mostly every weekend.(Green) I asked her why a busy teenager like herself volunteers all of her free time to helping these animals, and Nicole replied, “Caring for animals has always been one of my hobbies.” I thought that was pretty cool she could simplify it just like that. Since she began volunteering at the APL nearly 4 years ago, Nicole has decided to one day become a veterinarian so she can continue to help out animals in need. (Green) Volunteers just like Nicole, are one in a million and extremely hard to find and keep. The number of abandoned animals are rising and the volunteers keep dwindling. It is extremely unfair for these unwilling animals to be treated how they are and the courageous volunteers at the APL are on a mission to stop these unethical practices. Another volunteer I met while on the job was David. Despite the fact that he has a full-time job, he is a regular volunteer who meets at the APL every Saturday. (Thornton) I asked him what the one thing is that he loves about the APL? He responded very quickly. “To come in everyday and see the happy, warming look on each and every animal because they know you are there to help, absolutely takes my breath away.” “With all the caring volunteers and us working together as a family, we really keep the APL afloat.” The APL will always be a place David volunteers. (Thornton) What David and Nicole said about the APL, truly warmed my heart. As I left, I said my goodbyes and promised to be back, next time without needing information and strictly just for fun.
I am a strong believer in helping out others when needed and I plan on continuing my work at the APL after this class is over, and hopefully recruiting many others as well. Te volunteers have so much strength in them, so much compassion for something that they will never result in personal gain, and because of that I am completely astounded. They genuinely care about the animals’ wellbeing, and watch out for them as if they were their own personal pets. The volunteers I have met are such hardworking people, and never expect or even think to be recognized or rewarded for their kindness. I have been inspired to follow in Nicole and David’s footsteps and made it a personal goal to help out at the APL as much as I possibly can. Like Nicole, I am trying my hardest to get my family to come help me also. Who knows, maybe one day I’ll even open a shelter of my own.
1. Green, Nicole. Personal Interview. 13 Oct. 2008.
2. Thornton, David. Personal Interview. 18 Oct. 2008.