The Struggle We Go Through Every Thursday

September 16, 2011

                                                    The Starfish 
                                                Author Unknown
One day a man was taking a sunrise walk along a beach. In the distance he caught sight of a young woman who seemed to be dancing along the waves. As he got closer he saw that the young woman was actually not dancing, but picking up starfish from the sand and tossing them gently back into the ocean.

“What are you doing?” the man asked.

“The sun is coming up and the tide is going out; if I don’t throw them in they’ll die.”

“But young woman, there are miles and miles of beach with starfish all along it–you can’t possibly make a difference.”

The young woman bent down, picked up another starfish, and placed it lovingly back into the ocean, past the breaking waves. “It made a difference for that one,” she replied.

At one o’clock every Thursday we meet. Eight of us sit at a table in the conference room to give a voice to those who cannot speak for themselves. We agonize, debate, argue, concur and even cry. We have a driving desire to help. We are the Animal Welfare Committee.

We seek rescue for those in need, we ask for behavior plans for those with challenges, and we euthanize those who are a risk to the public. We do not euthanize due to lack of space, so our animals are here longer as they wait for a forever home. They become members of our family. We teach them, we love them, we bond with them. Because of this our employees and volunteers can get compassion fatigue.

Giving love to animals in need is a sacred thing to each one of us. Along with the rewards of helping animals, there can also be heartache. Sitting on the floor with a sick animal on our lap, giving a dog its last meal and treats, and a final goodbye can be deeply heart wrenching. I will never forget saying goodbye to Ruby outside. Other employees gathered with me to give her peanut butter and hugs. She was sick having seizures that day, and we knew we had to say goodbye. Even with the tears in our eyes, we knew we were doing the right thing for her.

Here at the Kitsap Humane Society we are able to save 95 percent of the animals brought to shelter with limited resources. But what if we had more resources? What if there were more donations made to the shelter? Would we be able to save even more? More resources could mean more kennel spaces, and more staff in behavior could mean that animals with behavioral challenges could be reached quicker.

We are a committee with open communication and full transparency. We invite and welcome those who want to sit in on meetings to do so. Every Thursday we struggle. We feel love, compassion, anger, frustration, sorrow and sometimes even guilt. But we are strong and supportive of each other. We carry on each week. We are the Animal Welfare Committee.
                                     – Heather Kite, KHS Animal Welfare Coordinator