I have worked for Nevada Humane Society for almost five years. During that time, close to 50,000 homeless pets have come through our shelter doors. I have been involved in every aspect of the process, from admission, to veterinary care, to behavior evaluation, to day-to-day care, promotion and, ultimately, adoption.
When I see the hundreds of faces in our shelter, I often wonder what it must be like from their perspective. Were they suddenly uprooted from a warm, loving home because their person died or could no longer afford them? Were they found wandering the cold streets of Reno, frightened and lonely? Were they abandoned in their yard by people who suddenly left town, looking for a new life? Were they surrendered with broken bones or illnesses by people who were unemployed and couldn’t afford veterinary care? Were they given up because of a foreclosure that forced their human family to downsize?
No matter what the situation, it must be confusing and stressful for most and downright terrifying for many. Animals’ senses are extremely more sensitive than humans’, and the mere change in new sights, smells and sounds can be overwhelming.
But what do they feel when they are uprooted from family, home and life as they know it? How do they cope with going from sleeping on a cozy couch surrounded by their human family to sleeping alone in a kennel or cage?
What goes on inside their bodies and minds when Johnny doesn’t take them out for a romp in the yard? Or Sally doesn’t brush them as they curl up on her lap? What do they sense when visitor after visitor passes them by and chooses some other dog or cat to adopt?
We are blessed with wonderful no-kill animal shelters in our community, but shelters should definitely be a last resort. For homeless pets, they are lifesavers, and we all do our best to make their stay as comfortable and comforting as possible as they wait for a new, loving home.
We can never truly know what it is like to experience a shelter from the eyes, ears, noses and hearts of homeless pets. But on Saturday, local celebrities and volunteers will experience spending the night “In Their Paws” at the Nevada Humane Society shelter.
Guests will curl up in dog kennels and cat colonies overnight with the hope of bringing more awareness and raising funds for shelter animals. They will truly know what it’s like to be In Their Paws — at least for one night and better understand how important it is to find them homes for the holidays!