What My Shelter Means to Me: Monmouth County SPCA

March 7, 2012  

By Lindsay Sanator

What does my shelter mean to me? A question I knew the answer to as soon as I walked through the door: everything.

Like most, I was homesick when I went away to college, but more so, I was pet sick. I missed my dogs and cats so much that thought it would help to volunteer at my local shelter, Monmouth County SPCA. Only 10 minutes from Monmouth University and I was home again, surrounded by cats and dogs – surrounded by that familiar feeling that had fulfilled me since I was a small child. Through the months, I traded the party scene for the furry scene, and I never felt happier. After finishing school, I moved back to my hometown in Long Island and bid farewell to the four-legged friends I had made over the years.

Some time passed, my plans changed, and I ended up back in New Jersey looking for a job. After circulating my resume to what seemed to be to countless employers, I found myself back at the Monmouth County SPCA.

I was soon after hired as an animal care attendant and started the journey that has made me the person I am today. I learned the ropes, did my job well and started discovering the ways of the animal advocate warrior. I began going to weekly behavior meetings, where the adoptability of specific dogs and cats would be discussed. I made it my goal to help these animals become the best they could be. Sometimes my best wasn’t enough, and I had to say goodbye, but the tears I cried and the wrenching pain I endured only fueled my quest to get these angels into homes. I started reading books, attending seminars, watching videos and learning everything I could about shelter life. I became a human sponge, soaking up any information that could help me better the lives of these animals.

My duties as an animal care attendant included the usual kennel tasks, walking, feeding and cleaning. That was fine with me; I wasn’t above my job description because I knew that the soft touch and subtle eye contact I made with every one of those babies would change their day. I made sure everyone had a soft bed so that the temporary cage they were staying in could feel more like home. I gave them all pep talks and told them how cute and wonderful they all were; I’m pretty sure they knew exactly what I was saying, and I’m also pretty sure that my co-workers thought I was nuts.

A year passed and I found myself completely involved with all aspects of the MCSPCA. I started my own nonprofit, which helped keep animals out of shelters by providing pet food for those in need. I bought a camera and started taking professional photos of the dogs and cats in hopes that the right person would see their picture. I put my computer skills to work and started making promotional flyers and videos to reach out to the community. I also helped organize events and dabbled in humane education at elementary schools. I did anything and everything I could possibly do for my shelter.

My job is now the reason I get up in the morning – not for the paycheck, but for the greater good. I built my life around my shelter: I look forward to seeing their beautiful faces when I arrived there before the sun comes up, and I feel sad when I have to say goodbye at night (but somehow I think they know I’ll be back for them in the morning). So when people ask me what I do for a living, I proudly say that I work at the Monmouth County SPCA and that I save lives every day.

All the dogs pictured are available for adoption at the Monmouth County SPCA

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