It Breaks My Heart

It breaks my heart when a frightened, feral stray Mama cat shows up with only one kitten in tow (like last night) because I know the others died and I can't change that now.

It breaks my heart when my senior special needs cat Alex wails and wails. He also did that when he was a baby, and was very sick and frightened. He did it when he could not see me (because I was in another room). 

It breaks my heart to see old and/or sick animals being left at a shelter by their pet parents who can't - or don't want to - deal with their treatment, or be there for them as they are in their final days or weeks. The cat or dog does not understand why after 17 years they are left in a strange place with people they don't know, to die alone in a kennel.

It breaks my heart when Milo dog "looks" at me with his blind eye. He went blind in that eye due to the radiation treatments for his cancer two years ago. When I rescued him, he'd been found in an abandoned yard, and was nearly starved to death with severe malnutrition and bone density loss. Upon exam, x-rays showed bones that had not healed properly. They believe he was hit with a car or thrown and never taken to a Vet to be treated. The pain and fear he must have experienced. It's not fair he got cancer; his life should have only been golden after all that happened. It breaks my heart. 

It breaks my heart to find wildlife past the point of helping, and knowing the wildlife rescue can only give them comfort in their final hours.

It can be tough to deal with the heartbreak; sometimes it seem endless. Certainly with two months of isolation alone it's even harder than ever to deal with it all. It's the reason many people avoid foster and volunteering; why many get involved in rescue then drop out. It's understandable. And certainly if you have a partner that is not on board it's impossible. I have seen a spouse cause dedicated animal heroes to stop, being forced to choose between family and their work. Strangely I often see it with Veterinarian's spouses. The spouse (and I've see it with male and female spouses) is extremely un-supportive of the long hours and not large financial rewards of very dedicated Vets.  

Fortunately, there is much to heal your heart that you'd miss out on if you drop out. (For one thing we'd all miss you).

Seeing a couple bring in kittens to a rescue that they found after the mother was killed. They had, on their own, bottle fed the kittens and had them spay neutered and vaccinated They wanted help getting them adopted into homes (the couple already had 6 cats of their own and could not permanently keep another 5!!). They even made a $250 donation to the rescue on top of all the work they'd already done!

Seeing a woman come in to adopt an old, sick cat that just needed TLC in her final days, and finding out this woman took home such cats regularly to fospice at her own expense.

Watching a tired, overworked, underpaid staff member take home that night, a 17 year old dog that was left there by a family that had him since he was a puppy. Because they "were moving"..... the dog could barely stand or walk he was so old. He was confused and frightened as he lay down on the cement floor of the kennel. Thankfully he would only be there a few hours till the staff member was off shift for the day. Although he no doubt grieved for his "family", his last 2 weeks were in comfort and love albeit from a stranger.

Being there when a long stay animal goes home, forever. 

Seeing updates that a special needs animal found a foster or forever hero. 

The older gentleman who came to the shelter every single morning without fail, to spend time with each and every cat, giving it love and attention. 

The woman behind me in line a few years ago, who when she saw my cart filled with food and toys for the shelter, handed me a $100 bill to give them along with what I was buying. I never knew her name. But I'll never forget her either.

And despite the fact that social media is often a sewer of trolls, bullying, and mob mentality cancel culture, seeing all the people on here around the world who care about animals sharing, offering to help, donating, sending food to shelters and rescues in need fills the breaks in my heart.

Don't let the heartbreak keep you from all the joy. You can help in whatever way is possible for you:

Adopt or foster or volunteer. If you can't do that donate or give. If you can't do that, share the needs however you can - word of mouth, email, social media, text. Never not act because you think that act is too small to help. Every act makes a different to an animal in need. 

Shelter Stories: A Mr.Frisky Blog