Recently, a community outreach (spay and neuter education) position at a local animal shelter in the city opened up, and I decided to apply. This gave me the opportunity to sit down and write a cover letter that explains how my passion for animals began. I've decided to share this story with you, because I believe that it is a story worth telling. The events written below are a true tale of my life.
I grew up on a small farm in rural Texas, and I can’t remember a time in my life when we didn’t have dogs. They were my constant companions and best friends. But I also grew up in a lower-income family that didn’t believe in spaying and neutered. I’ve seen a lot of birth for someone my age…but also a lot of death.
One traumatic experience in particular became the eye-opening moment when I dedicated myself to animal rescue. As a young teenager, I had a terrier mix named Baby. Baby was gentle and affectionate, playful and loyal. Baby had several large and successful litters (most of which were eventually carted to the pound against my wishes). During Baby’s third litter, though, a puppy got stuck in the birth canal. As she struggled in the front yard, obviously in pain, I pleaded with my father to take her to the vet, but money was tight; we couldn’t afford it. I wasn’t even allowed to hold her while she suffered and died that day, but was instead sent off to school in tears. Baby was only two years old.
Not long after that, I got my first job, discovered the wonderful, local, low-cost vet clinic, and used my own money to spay and neuter most of our remaining dogs. My life changed with Baby, and the lives of every dog I have cared for since were changed by her, although they may not know it. I educated myself, and then my family. I helped my sister get her Australian Shepherd spayed. During college, I went on to volunteer at the local humane society, and after my move to Oklahoma, I have continued to encourage and educate others on making the right decisions for their pets, and help them find ways to do so in our struggling economy. My love of animals was learned early, but my passion for saving them was born through experience. It is an experience that drives me, and which I feel is worth sharing with others. I know for a fact that I will spend the rest of my life working with animal rescue in some capacity. It won’t always be easy, but every effort is worth it, because every animal is worth it.
This is a situation that I am certain happens over and over in low-income communities. I don't blame my parents for Baby's death (this was shortly after my parents' divorce, as I was living with my retired father who supported us on just his pensions and benefits, and the situation was pretty effed up) - I blame the lack of education. Would things have played out differently had my family understood that there were low-cost options? Maybe. We'll never know. What I do know is that Baby's death affected me deeply, and fanned the flame that had already been building in me for pet rescue. And even though she is gone now and may not know it, her death has helped me advocate and save many pets' lives. This is something I know in my heart I will continue to do, whether I can do it through the backing of a successful humane society, or whether I must plunge steadily ahead, making a path on my own.
If you live in the Oklahoma City area and need assistance spaying and neutering your pets, I encourage you to contact the below organizations before it is too late. They can help your pet live a longer, happier life with you - and that's what we hope for, for every pet.
Update 2011-Nov-15: I received a message from the Humane Society regarding my application, but she is currently out of town the beginning of this week, so we haven't been able to schedule an interview. Fingers crossed, though!