It is eighteen months since the birth of LAARF. Many of our lives have changed during that time, but many of the dogs and cats we have met have been living in a refuge for all of that time.
Imagine being a dog and spending day after day in a concrete cell, only getting attention at feeding time, when the cages are cleaned out or when someone is searching for a pet, when it may just be a glance or a pause for consideration. Then imagine the difference to that dog if someone comes to take them out for a walk. For us it is a tiny thing, but for them it is the best part of their lives, something to break the boredom of their day, a chance to sniff about and feel grass under their paws, to have someone to gaze at and have a cuddle with, something many of them will have taken for granted in their previous lives and for others, something they may never have experienced before they were abandoned.
Many people wonder how we can keep going back to volunteer, to see the sad, depressed faces looking at us from behind bars, but the reality is that most of them are well adapted to their new lives, that the refuge staff love their charges and will do everything they can for them. What I see when I go along, are happy dogs and cats doing what they love best thanks to me being there, and just sometimes, I can connect one of them with someone looking for a pet.
Of course it’s not always easy. We have to accept that there aren’t enough homes for them, that they may be behind bars until they die, that for every dog or cat that finds a home, there will be many more coming in in the future, but ignoring the problem won’t make it go away.
If we can show people that they can find normal, loving dogs and cats in our refuges, hopefully more and more people will adopt.
If we can find more people willing to foster a dog or cat, we can get to know more about them which will make it easier to find them a new home.
If we can find more people to spare some time to volunteer for their local refuge, we can improve the lives of thousands of animals. It can be helping out at a refuge, fundraising, collecting bedding for the winter or talking to people about what we do and how they can help. You may not think that is making a difference, but for those animals we walk or cuddle, it makes all the difference in the world.
It constantly amazes me just how much of a difference we are making in some areas and the more of us who do it, the more lives we can change. Please get in touch if you’d like to get involved.
Facebook (for all the real action!) LAARF – SPA Volunteer Network