I have always loved animals, which made volunteering at Memphis Animal Services especially exciting for me. Upon arriving to the large gated building, I met with the volunteer coordinator. She showed me around the shelter and explained all of the services they offer.
We talked about the importance of adopting, and the lowering rate at which dogs were being euthanized at the shelter. The volunteer coordinator told me that the previous year 22% of dogs were put to sleep, where as this year that number had dropped to 15%, meaning that more dogs were kept alive and adopted than in the past.
I spent most of my day taking photos of dogs to help get them adopted. My main priority was to get the dogs to show me their personality. Some dogs were very affectionate and timid, while others were hyper and curious. Once I found a dog that looked eager for attention, I took them outside to play. Watching the dogs run around made me very happy. While outside, a few wanted to play with toys and others wanted to jump on me and just be petted. Dogs truly are their own individuals, so it was wonderful to interact with many different dog-personalities.
There was one dog in particular whom I really connected with, who in another life should have been named Honey. She clearly hadn’t been fed much before arriving to the shelter. She looked like she had burns on her body, as if someone had burned her with cigarettes. This broke my heart; because she was easily the sweetest and most affectionate dog I spent time with. Other dogs mainly wanted to run around and play, but she only wanted to jump up in my lap and cuddle after only knowing me for ten minutes.
Some people give the shelter a negative connotation because they euthanize dogs, but people should look at the other side as well. Dogs like Honey who have been mistreated and living in bad situations are given the opportunity for a better life. Without the shelter where would these dogs go? Most would likely end up on the streets to starve or possibly worse.
Memphis Animal Services is teaching the Memphis area the importance of pet adoption. Every year almost 3 million dogs are euthanized, as well as the other hundreds of thousands that die on the streets. This number would be drastically decreased if more people would consider adopting instead of buying. Other than saving lives, adopting an animal will keep extra money in a family’s pocket. When adopting from the shelter all animals come spayed or neutered, with up to date shots, and the added bonus of micro- chipping.
I thoroughly enjoyed my time spent volunteering at the shelter. I got to work with dogs one on one, and was given a very personal understanding of why adoption is so crucial. I feel more confident in talking to people about adopting, and hope to see dogs like Honey and others given a chance at a better life, and a forever home. I can’t wait to be back at Memphis Animal Services and hopefully adopt a dog or cat of my own in the future.