On Monday, 28 August, a kitten was brought in to Oakland Animal Services. He was brought in by a concerned member of the public. He didn’t have a name, but was given a number: ACR #37483. For the purpose of this post, I will call him TinyFluff.
Once TinyFluff was taken into the shelter, he went through the same process as thousands of other animals that get brought in the shelter: They are cleaned up, weighed and given medical attention. They’re fed, watered, and given love by a team of staff and volunteers.
What does the shelter do?
At Oakland Animal Services, we are the only ‘open admissions’ shelter in Oakland. That means that we are the only shelter that will accept all animals, for any reason, no matter what. Some animals have been brought here by our Animal Care Officers, because we’re worried about the animal’s welfare. Some were ‘arrested’ after getting in a fight. Some are homeless. Some are surrendered by their owners in the most heartbreaking of circumstances. Some are strays, some are lost, and some have health conditions that their owners are unable to cover. We take all animals. A few are so ill that they don’t make it. Most, we nurse back to health and put up for adoption, either through our own adoption channels, or via our adoption partners like the Humane Society or the SPCA.
An army of volunteers help look after all the animals. We help counsel people looking for a new pet. We advise on what to do (and what not to do) when you’re looking for a companion. And we help with tips and recommendations for how to help your new housemate settle in.
And sometimes, we come across stories like TinyFluff. An animal that comes in in a terribly sorry state, but who recovers impossibly quickly. There’s only five days between these two photos. Five days between the animal being brought in to the shelter, and being well on his way to being ready for adoption. It’s a team effort: Every day, volunteers help feed and socialize these little beasts. Every day, the staff at the shelter help feed, clean and give the animals medical attention. And every day, we are saving lives, helping gorgeous animals find their new families and their forever homes.
Is it easy? Hell no.
Is it fun? Often, but not always.
Is it rewarding? Absolutely. Every single time. Unreservedly. Yes.
How can you help?
Be a foster parent — reach out to your local shelter and see if they accept new foster families. My wife and I have been fostering for about 7 years, and we must have had 20–25 batches of kittens by now. They’re really hard to give back, but it’s awesome to see ‘your’ foster animals get adopted and go to loving homes.
Volunteer at your local shelter — most shelters rely extensively on volunteers. If you can spare some time, please consider investing it in helping make life better for animals near you.
Make a donation — If you can spare some money, Friends of Oakland Animal Services is always looking for donations. It helps improve the facilities we’re in, it helps us fund veterinary care for more animals. In short: helps us help more animals.
As for why I volunteer at my local shelter? Scroll right to the top of this post and look at these two photos again. I’m convinced we saved a tiny little fluffy life. And that makes it all worth it.
I’m a volunteer at Oakland Animal Services, but I don’t speak for the city of Oakland or Friends of OAS. All the opinions in this post are mine and mine alone.