A recent experience gave us pause (and an opportunity) here. This blog is not addressed to the staff, volunteers at FFL nor to our supporters. This is a lifeline to those staff/volunteers in other programs struggling, gasping and yearning to see the animals the care about leave through “the front door” not out the back.
This week, I got a request to take a cat in from one of the Big Three private shelters in town. The plea was heartfelt: Please consider taking this 1 year old cat into your program as the staff and volunteers have become very attached to him, she wrote. He is not a candidate for adoption here, and her words exactly, “because he plays rough and would do better as an only cat.”
If you are affiliated with Friends For Life you are scratching your head right now in disbelief. But too many of you are thinking, “Yea, it’s like that here too.” You are my audience.
When I said of course we will take this cat, her response was “Oh thank you, so many people have been rooting for him.” And I believe her.
But it begged the question for me: rooting for him against what? I understand, “We’re rooting for the cancer to go into remission.” I get that or “We are rooting for the Ravens to win.”
But what force are they rooting to circumvent?
Their management. The direction that their Executive Director and their board have chosen. A choice entirely in their control. I had a mentor say to me years ago, “When you live in Crazy Town long enough, you forget it had city limits. You can drive the hell out.”
So to you all who are struggling with that nagging (and sometimes screaming) feeling that we can actually save the “unsaveable” I invite you to join us.
Drive the hell out.
We have staff and volunteers who include ex-staff from other shelters who finally got to the point that the dissonance was too great to bear. One of my favorite ways I heard it described was from a staffer who wrestled with tremendous guilt after she followed the rules as a volunteer dog walker and reported that a dog she’d walked coughed. She came back in to find that he had been killed as a result. Her comment to me was “I didn’t know what the better way to do this might be, but I knew there must be a better way.”
You will be received at Friends For Life with joy and with gratitude. You may even choose not to tell us that you have a different experience. We don’t care. We are happy that you are here. We care that the more of you who join this new way of looking at things the more powerful the Movement becomes. The bankrupt system, like all bankrupt systems, will either fail or it will adapt. My experience with shelters is that they adapt. If enough donors, volunteers, adopters, bloggers say we demand a different way, they will change. They will rise to meet you.
But you must rise first.