My Animal Shelter Experience
By Kellie Piche
Walking into an animal shelter can be a difficult experience for many reasons. For some, it’s the overwhelming feeling of hopelessness that comes with seeing a vast number of homeless pets in small cages. For others, it’s combatting the constant and persistent little voice inside their heart telling them to adopt ALL THE ANIMALS. Sometimes, even deciding which pet to adopt is enough to send some people into a dizzying whirl of crippling anxiety. But if you can find a way to hold onto your hat and brave the shelter experience even for a little while, something amazing will happen, as it did for me.
In the summer of 2011, I not only visited a shelter, I had been working at one for over three years. There were days where I felt hopeless and overwhelmed but I carried on, spurred on by the number of people coming in each day to adopt a pet, thus saving a life. For three years I had daily conversations with the infamous little voice inside my heart. I was a student at the time and I could barely afford rent, let alone another cat, or so I rationalized. For three years, I fought the temptation to adopt ALL THE ANIMALS, that is, until Gilmore came along. There was just something about this big, beautiful brown tabby that I was drawn to. My heart was saying ‘yes’, but my budget (and my boyfriend) were saying no.
So I continued about my day, which turned into weeks, and I had all but forgotten about the big brown tabby until a co-worker of mine working in the adoption department said ‘You’ve got to see this cat, he gives hugs!’ To my surprise, it was Gilmore. He was still waiting for his forever home. The staff couldn’t understand why no one had swept him up yet because he was such a friendly handsome cat. There was absolutely nothing wrong with him. When I opened his cage, he stood up on his hind legs, wrapped his big white paws around my neck and gave me the biggest hug, as if to say ‘Please take me home’. So I did, and the deal was sealed when he wrapped his paws around my boyfriend’s neck too! And that’s the story of how Gilmore came into my life, an ordinary shelter cat with extraordinary personality.
I’m not denying that animal shelters are difficult places to visit, but consider this: saving one pet will not change the world, but, surely for you and that one pet, the world will change forever (based on a quote from Karen Davison).