Thanksgiving weekend has come and gone, and before we jump into holiday madness, the South Jersey Regional Animal Shelter would like to stop and give thanks after an especially wonderful weekend. It’s not always easy to remember to be grateful in animal sheltering. The past weeks have been difficult; we have seen some adoptions not work out, and your heart can’t help but break for the confused animal who returns to their cage after thinking they were home. Intake has been especially high for cats, which complicates everything. Usually intake is slowing down this time of year and we can focus on some of our long-term residents; however, we continued to have to handle emergency situations including sick kittens, medically fragile seniors, and even cats giving birth.
As the holiday approached, our staff was feeling overwhelmed, tired and in desperate need of some positivity. Wednesday was especially chaotic and, despite holiday hours that saw us closing early, staff remained at the shelter hours late as they tended to the many needs of the hundreds of animals. The last thing we wanted to do on Thanksgiving morning is get up early and head back – but we were surprised to find the parking jam packed full! Not only had the staff arrived, but dozens of volunteers were present, ready to serve a Thanksgiving feast to all of the animals. They had been working hard behind the scenes to prepare pet-friendly food and they arrived early to serve. Every single animal received a home-cooked meal, a truly special treat.
In addition, the volunteers bundled up and made sure that almost every dog had a walk outside with some personal TLC. The cats weren’t left out. Junior Volunteers filled the cat rooms, handing out meals, toys and cuddles. The animals loved this extra attention, and we could tell that they were feeling the excitement and warmth of the holiday.
As the morning turned to afternoon, every animal had been fed and loved and it was time for the volunteers to return to their families. But we noticed that at a time when the animals would just be getting ready for a long day ahead, they were calm. The kennels were quiet and the cats were resting peacefully. Apparently, Thanksgiving naps aren’t just for humans!
It was a beautiful morning all around: Not just seeing the animals so excited and then so relaxed and calm, but seeing the staff and volunteers working together to make it special for them. The volunteers put time and money into purchasing and preparing their meals. They sacrificed their holiday morning to spend with the animals, and many even helped with daily chores such as laundry on the holiday. Staff members who weren’t working spent the morning volunteering alongside the volunteers. It was a lovely reminder of how fortunate we are to have such great people supporting our shelter and our animals.
Thanksgiving was followed by a weekend filled with adoptions! Perhaps the Thanksgiving feast had the animals ready to shine, because our Black Friday adoption promotion was wildly successful and saw 15 dogs and 18 cats and kittens adopted. What an amazing way to kick off the holiday season. While the hustle and bustle during the event had the staff and volunteers working hard, what better result could we ask for? We again found ourselves grateful for our community’s excitement about adoption and happy endings for the animals we love so much.
We’re starting off the holiday season in a great place and we’re excited to see what December brings. We’re already having fun with Pet Photos with Santa and looking forward to sharing more holiday fun with our volunteers, community and animals.
Many reasons for thanks at South Jersey Regional Animal Shelter
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