Of there being a day where no animal lives out of sight of love.
Of course, when I speak of animals I have in mind those animals that end up in rescue shelters of one form or another: cats; horses; dogs; ponies; birds; and other species.
But on the broader topic of offering love to animals I must share something with you before going on to the main subject of today’s post.
That is that for the last few years we have been feeding the wild deer.
Slowly a number of them have grown to trust Jean and me to the point where one particular young female became such a regular that we named her: Doris. It is Doris that is in the picture above eating the cob that we put out twice a day.
Doris doesn’t warm to strangers plus she doesn’t come every day. When she does it is clear that she is familiar with us and perceives no threat from this ‘neck of the woods’, as the next photograph supports:
I call the closeness of me and Doris love. I love how this animal trusts me and, in turn, the care and responsibility that is called for from me.
My dream is that the love, care and responsibility offered by people will one day be so widespread and extensive that there comes no call for animal rescue shelters.
A couple of days ago Cori Meloney signed up to follow Learning from Dogs. Cori is the author of the blog Three Irish Cats. As is my usual way I went across to her blog to leave a ‘thank you’ note for her decision to follow my scriblings. I immediately saw her latest post and knew without doubt that it should be republished here. Cori very promptly gave me permission to so do.
Every Day Should Be Clear the Shelters Day
I volunteer with a small (but mighty!) rescue group here in Southern Maryland called Rescue Angels of Southern Maryland. We mostly deal with cats, though we’ve recently begun to rescue dogs as well.
Most of the cats we find homes for come from owner surrenders, friendly cats and kittens from our feral colonies, and at-risk animals from our local municipal shelter, Tri-County Animal Shelter.
Saturday, Rescue Angels was one of the groups that participated in Tri-County’s annual Clear the Shelters Day celebration. Seventy-seven animals found forever homes that day. Watching the parade of happy animals and their new owners as they left the building was totally worth sweltering in the 95-degree heat.
As the only public animal shelter to serve the three Southern Maryland counties, Tri-County is a busy place. It frequently gets full, and organizations like Rescue Angels and others in the area step in when we can to remove animals from the shelter. This is not a no-kill shelter, so a full shelter means animals will die. New animals come in every day.
Three things struck me when I was at Tri-County last weekend.
The first is that I wish Tri-County could be this busy every Saturday. Granted, adoption fees on Clear the Shelters Day were eliminated or reduced and there was a lot of publicity for this event, but there are always wonderful animals at the shelter that want to go home with a family. Many animals end up there because the owner surrendered them; the reason often given is “did not want.”
The second is that I am increasingly amazed by the dedication of the shelter staff. They have a difficult job, and it often goes without thanks. It’s not easy to be civil to an owner who is dropping off their pet because they don’t want it anymore. It’s not easy to put down perfectly healthy animals because humans have acted irresponsibly. I can only imagine that the staff constantly feels like it is in crisis mode; they may have nearly cleared the shelter on Saturday, but come midweek, those cages and pens will be filled again with animals in need.
The third thought is that we, the community, created this shelter, and we need to fix it. Tri-County has a terrible reputation here in Southern Maryland. The kill rate for cats is more than 50 percent. The facility is small and needs renovation and expansion. It is nearly always full to overflowing. Members of the community sometimes say terrible things about the staff.
But Tri-County is constantly full because the Southern Maryland has let its companion animals down. Cats are not spayed or neutered, and they’re treated as disposable. Need to move? Drop your cat at the shelter, or worse, just leave it behind. Dog getting too big? Don’t feel like dealing with behavior or health issues? Drop the animal at the shelter.
I’ll be honest: My opinion of Tri-County and its staff has not always been positive. What makes it worse is that I had those opinions without actually visiting the shelter. I am ashamed of that fact. Since I started volunteering with Rescue Angels, I have visited the shelter many times to take cats that our rescue was putting into foster care. I have met some of the staff members, and they are always happy to talk with me about their animals. They’re ecstatic when an animal leaves the building. The shelter has a rescue coordinator whose job is to work with local rescue groups to remove animals from the shelter when they are at risk of being killed or when shelter life is impacting their well-being. These folks are animal lovers forced into a terrible situation by a community that treats its animals as disposable and Tri-County as its dumping ground.
So, now that Clear the Shelters Day has passed, I challenge my fellow residents of Southern Maryland: Visit Tri-County Animal Shelter. Talk with the staff. Visit with the cats in the free-roaming room. Take a dog for a walk. Take pictures and share them on Facebook. Volunteer. Follow Tri-County on Facebook and interact with their posts. Foster, which allows rescue groups to remove more animals from the shelter. Rescue Angels can help you become a foster family for dogs or cats.
All three Southern Maryland counties are working on plans to build their own shelter facilities. In the meantime, Tri-County Animal Shelter is our public shelter. It’s our job as the community to support the staff, help care for the animals, and reduce the number of animals killed there.
I hope to see you there, leash in hand.
By: Cori S. Meloney
So if any reader is within reach of Southern Maryland and wants to offer an animal love, care and responsibility then please make your way across to Rescue Angels of Southern Maryland.
How to draw today’s post to a close?
In searching for inspiration about all animals living in the sight of love I realised that what I was dreaming of was more about compassion than love; albeit the two states of mind being very close to one another.
That led me to perusing the Dalai Lama’s teachings on compassion: Compassion and the Individual. Here’s how that teaching concludes:
Compassion and the world
In conclusion, I would like briefly to expand my thoughts beyond the topic of this short piece and make a wider point: individual happiness can contribute in a profound and effective way to the overall improvement of our entire human community.
Because we all share an identical need for love, it is possible to feel that anybody we meet, in whatever circumstances, is a brother or sister. No matter how new the face or how different the dress and behavior, there is no significant division between us and other people. It is foolish to dwell on external differences, because our basic natures are the same.
Ultimately, humanity is one and this small planet is our only home. If we are to protect this home of ours, each of us needs to experience a vivid sense of universal altruism. It is only this feeling that can remove the self-centered motives that cause people to deceive and misuse one another.
If you have a sincere and open heart, you naturally feel self- worth and confidence, and there is no need to be fearful of others.
I believe that at every level of society – familial, tribal, national and international – the key to a happier and more successful world is the growth of compassion. We do not need to become religious, nor do we need to believe in an ideology. All that is necessary is for each of us to develop our good human qualities.
I try to treat whoever I meet as an old friend. This gives me a genuine feeling of happiness. It is the practice of compassion.
Loving animals is very much part of protecting this home of ours.
That is my dream.