Thursday, October 20, 2005
Sometimes, volunteering is not a breeze...
Typically when people think of getting involved with our Volunteer Program they think of touching moments cuddling a homeless kitten or frolicking in the yard with a frisky pup.
Actually, volunteering for an urban humane organization is a little more....gritty.
I received this from a volunteer who devotes a lot of free time to our efforts:
"With a busy work schedule & active lifestyle, it is rare I find time to volunteer as much as I would like to. So when I got the email asking for volunteers to distribute flyers for the upcoming free vaccination clinic & spay/neuter appointments, I was pleased it was something I could do! Easy enough job--walk the neighborhoods of Oakland dropping off flyers advertising the clinic. It was suggested I bring along a companion for safety. I found a friend willing to help out and we set out with the goal of getting as many flyers distributed before the sun set.
As we headed down the street, I took in the surroundings. These were low income neighborhoods. Not necessarily dangerous neighborhoods, just neighborhoods filled with people trying to get by any way they could. Some houses were in need of a repainting, others had plywood where windows once were and one was missing a front porch so the occupants had to leap over a gaping hole to enter their home. A few tried to add cheer by having a few impatients or marigolds planted in pots outside their doors.
I'm a shy person by nature but I'm passionate about finding a way to reduce the number of homeless pets that end up in our shelters each year. People were walking the street carrying their groceries, satchels or just smoking their evening cigarettes. I gathered the courage to ask them if they had any pets. The first guy, a young man in his late twenties who looked filled with anger, passed by and only offered a hard glare. The girl he was with, however, stopped to mention she had pets and held out her hand to take a flyer. After a quick glance she mentioned her mother had a dog as well and could she have another for her. I continued on finding places to hang the flyers on the many gates that surrounded the houses that gave them a 'don't bother me' appearance. I hung the flyers on top of the Domino Pizza, quick cash and carpet cleaning flyers. My flyers hung like orange fluorescent lights on the cyclone gates, broken door knobs and mail boxes of the neighborhood.
Dogs charged the fences and barked hysterically as we passed. I tried to be diligent and get flyers to all the houses where it was obvious a dog (or dogs) resided. I tripped over my own dog as I tried to dodge the barking dog protecting his territory while I slipped a flyer between the bars of the gate. The man who had two adult Rottweilers and a yard full of puppies got two flyers just in case he lost one. The owners of the shop with several shop dogs, the home with 5 dogs, the guy who just grumbled and took one, they all got flyers last night. I wanted to mark my flyers so that I could know if even just one of the many houses we left a flyer with last night came to the clinic. I'll never know but I like to believe that on that night I made a small dent in what seems an insurmountable problem. Just in case I missed the house that will take its dog to the clinic, I'll be back out again tomorrow night. Another neighborhood filled with more dogs and more people just trying to get by any way they can.
Thank you, MR and HM, for a great job. I hope you inspire more Good Samaritans to step outside their comfort zone and help where it helps the most.