City Hounds

Just sniffin' around…

Volunteering: CISAR

I’ve never been much of a joiner.  At least not willingly.  For work, there are some things I have to “join:”  committees, book clubs, professional organizations, etc.  But in my personal life, I’m not good at committing to causes or social events.  I’m kind of a solitary person.

I do believe in service, however.  For most of my years working in a high school, I sponsored Key Club, a service group for teens, and I did my service through them: helping the kids organize projects, chaperoning their events, etc.  Since I’ve switched jobs, I haven’t been doing much service.  Personally, our cause of choice is animal rescue, and I’ve donated money when we can, but I’ haven’t really gotten involved.

I decided it was time to change that.  I thought about volunteering at the local Humane Society,where we adopted both our dogs, but something Nathan Winograd says in his book Irreconcilable Differences made me think twice.  He pointed out that shelters that euthanize animals use our money to do so.  The local Humane Society is not Animal Control, so they aren’t using our tax dollars to kill (although Animal Control is, of course), but they do euthanize, and are very cagey about what their kill policies are.  I’ve been donating to them for years because it’s so easy to do so, and I like their sponsor-a-pet program.

What an excuse, right?  So, Winograd’s common sense statement woke me up.  A few weeks ago, Steve and I drove out to CISAR, the local no-kill shelter, to check it out.  I’d heard mixed reviews (small cages, dirty, etc.), so I wanted to check it out before I decided to volunteer.  The animal facility is an old barn, with dog kennels on the first floor and cat rooms upstairs. I was pretty happy with what I saw: not too many animals, shared indoor/outdoor runs with adequate space, helpful staff.  There were a lot of volunteers out there that morning walking the dogs, and it sounds like they try to get the dogs out of the kennels every day (my biggest concern about no-kill shelters is cage craziness). They also have a low cost vet clinic on site.

I filled out an application to volunteer, and a week later went out for the first time.  They were cleaning out the dog kennels and had adequate help with that, so I helped clean the cat rooms (ironic, since my own “cat room” at home desperately needed to be cleaned – which I came home and did out of guilt).  I was there for about two hours and really enjoyed myself.  They have great cat rooms: very clean, bright colors, lots of windows (most of which look into other rooms or the hall, but still provide a sense of openess).

This guy followed me all over the room while I was cleaning.

One cat in particular followed me all over the room, even climbing up my back while I crouched down cleaning a wall.  When I took his picture, he flopped down and swatted at my phone.  He reminded me of our Frodo – super friendly and loved people.  I couldn’t find him on Petfinder, so I’m not sure what his name is, but he sure is a cutie.

CISAR is out in the country, about 20 minutes from our house.  I hope to spend more time out there in the future, but we’ll have to see how often I can make the trip as the weather gets worse.  I’ve also been looking for chances to volunteer a little closer to home with Wishbone Canine Rescue, a local no-kill animal rescue that works under Nathan Winograd’s principles.


November 15, 2011 - Posted by | volunteering & adoption

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