Saturday, May 28, 2011

It’s Official! I’m A Volunteer

After passing an interview screening, I attended a two-hour orientation last week at my local humane society. The woman who presented the orientation talked rapidly, which was a good thing because otherwise, with so much material to cover, we’d still be there. Even so, there were elements of the job that deserved more attention and, ideally, a demonstration.

Some of the policies I had to sign off on surprised me, yet shouldn’t have. Regulations frequently get written after the fact—that is, after some dunderhead has behaved either thoughtlessly or maliciously. For example, one policy states that your own pets aren’t allowed in the facility while you volunteer. Another states that you aren’t to leave your pets in your car while volunteering.

There was also a section detailing the consequences of not following the rules or demonstrating behavior unbecoming to the organization. Like abusing the animals or offering your opinions to prospective adopters. (The example given for the latter concerned declawing. The orientation leader said someone might ask us for the name of a vet who declaws or how much it costs to declaw. We’re to send the person to a humane society employee for answers rather than offer any facts about the procedure. I had to bite my tongue: I don’t regard facts to be opinions. The larger point was “Avoid controversial subjects when speaking with the public—no matter how much science you have on your side.”) Got it. Fine by me. I’m not there to engage people in conversation anyway. My priority is the immediate needs of the animals.

Yesterday was my first day on the job. I’ve been warned by a number of friends and family that working at a shelter may not be the best emotional match for me. They’re right, of course, but I wanted to try just the same.

I’ll describe the experience in another post, but overall, according to my two-item evaluation system, it went well: I didn’t cry, and I came home sans any furry tagalongs.

[Pics are from the shelter.]

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