I have been volunteering for several years at the Georgia SPCA low-cost vaccination clinics. If you've been to one of our clinics, you know that they are busy and can sometimes seem a bit wild and crazy - dogs are barking; cats are meowing; people are chatting and admiring each other's pets; and our weekend manager, Mary, is calling out names of the pets to see the veterinarian. I work the registration desk, where I review with pet owners the services they have requested for their pets, take their payment for services and try to answer their questions. Sometimes people ask for advice on when they can get their pet spayed or neutered (for most pets, as long as the cat or dog weighs a little over two pounds - usually by the time puppies or kittens are about 12 weeks old,) what vaccinations and tests their pets need or what to do about pet behavior problems (I give my best advice but always remind the pet owner that I am not an expert and suggest that he ask the veterinarian. I'll bet our clinic veterinarians just love me!) Sometimes a pet owner has a unique situation or problem and it can take a bit of time and thought to solve it for them. Because our clinics offer vaccinations, microchips, deworming, and heartworm and flea prevention at an inexpensive price, we usually see a lot of pets and the wait can be an hour or two. We always try to give the very best customer service we can, and I am glad that this is one way I can help out, but after a couple of hours, the hectic pace and the background noise can stress me out.
The thing that keeps me volunteering at the clinic, that makes me smile at the end of a long day, is that at every clinic, I meet at least one Good Samaritan who is taking care of a cat or dog, kitten or puppy in need, out of the goodness of his or her heart. There is the couple who rescued their dogs from abuse and neglect, and the woman who adopted her neighbor's cat after the neighbors just moved and abandoned it outside to fend for itself. At our last clinic, there was the sweet young woman who brought in her dog and a stray kitten she'd discovered behind a supermarket. She said she just couldn't leave the kitten to fend for itself, so she took it home to care for and was bringing it in for it's shots. She's never had a cat before, doesn't know anything about cats, and already has a dog to care for, but she just couldn't abandon this kitten, the way somebody else did. Then there was the man at another clinic who brought in a dog that he'd found running along Ronald Reagan Parkway. The dog had no collar, no microchip, and was thisclose to being hit by a car. The man said he couldn't find the owner and he's already got a couple of dogs of his own, but he just couldn't leave the dog to be killed on the road so, as he said, "I guess he's mine now." I also remember the single mom with three kids who brought in a cardboard box full of kittens - she said they showed up on her patio in the rain, and she couldn't bear to leave them outside, so she took them into her apartment and was determined to get them the veterinary care they needed and to find them good homes, despite the fact that she was on a tight budget.
I hear those words a lot from Good Samaritans: "I just couldn't" leave this poor creature to starve, to die of cold or neglect or disease or injury. But really, these are the people who could - who could find it in their hearts to have compassion on an animal in need and who could make room in their homes and their budgets and their busy lives for one more. Mother Theresa said, "We cannot all do great things, but we can all do little things with great love." I am very grateful for the wonderful people who come to our clinics every month, to take care of their own pets and the ones other people refuse to take care of. They renew my faith in humanity, they really do.
PS - The kitten on the left is Maple. Her walk is a bit wonky but her heart is full of love and she needs a loving home. The cat on the top right is Mrs. Potts. She is the original lap cat and she needs a permanent lap to cuddle in. Tuxie is, of course, the black and white tuxedo. In addition to her formal attire and elegant apperance, she loves to play and is hoping for her forever home soon. Learn more about these three and our other adoptable cats at www.GeorgiaSPCA.org/adopt-cat