Hard Work and Long Days; Workamping at the Animal Shelter

Question: What is the number one killer of domestic pets in the U.S.?
Euthanasia at animal shelters. Over 9.6 million pets are euthanized every year.

Jim and I have always talked about starting up an animal rescue. We’d buy some rustic land, put rental cabins on it for revenue, and build an animal shelter with a focus on older and special needs dogs. We joked we’d call it “Jerry‘s Kids.”

So when Workamper News magazine had an ad with an opportunity at Safe Harbor Animal Farm in Maysville, South Carolina, I thought it would be a great chance to find out if running a shelter is something that might be in our futures. Safe Harbor’s founder, Dr. Lynn Swanson, was kind enough to give us our first workamper opportunity, and invited us to come on over.

Dr. Swanson and her partner Lee started Safe Harbor from the ground up, in 2003. Their focus is on spaying and neutering animals, as a way to end animal overpopulation. The organization is just past the start up phase of development, and they are in the process of finishing their spay / neuter clinic building. Our tasks ranged from helping out with the building, to clearing brush, to cleaning cat poo boxes.

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Hard Work, Long Days

Like any small business, it seems that a shelter’s To Do list never ends, and money is an issue. But the biggest difference between running a business with clients, and running one with animals, is that you can’t send animals to voice mail when you don’t want to talk to them. Animals always need a human around to feed them, and give them shelter. There is never a day off. It consumes you.

We have to hand it to all of the kind hearted, driven individuals like Lynn in the world. It takes a very special person to advocate for animals full time. Ultimately, Jim and I learned that we are not cut from the same cloth as these individuals. Seeing how Lynn and Lee work so hard was concrete evidence that running a rescue is much, much more physically and emotionally challenging than running a typical small business.

Not Cut Out For It

This was a great learning experience. As a result, we have checked off “Running a Shelter” as a future career possibility. We’ll definitely keep helping out with animal causes, but our biggest way of contributing will probably be by fostering or adopting special needs dogs.

And remember; please don’t buy or breed cats and dogs!

11 thoughts on “Hard Work and Long Days; Workamping at the Animal Shelter”

  1. Hey, Y’all,

    poking around the south are ya… Don’t fergit to head up ole 59 when you get to Mobile and check out my old stomping grounds in Fort Payne’s Lookout Mountain. Stop by the fan club and tell then Diz says Hey!. I remember lunch for me n my bitches used to be about $11.00 at Dinah’s Country Kitchen on Hwy 11 about 2 miles south of town…and that was for at least (3) 5 course over stuffed meals of Chicken, meatloaf, pulled pork with creamed corn, broccoli caserole, mashed potatoes, fried okra, okra caserole, okra salad, okra sufle, okra dokra doodle all the day… and of course all the sweet tea you could drink…

    So far we have rescued about 10 cats and 3 dogs from our local shelter. I recently purchased a little “Yo cado taco bell” tea cup Chihuahua cause they don’t show up at the pounds that often…

  2. The two kittens we recently addopted were abandoned by their mother, who is believed to be farel. However, we soon discovered that they are both infected with ringworm, and have upper respiratory problems. So they are both requiring antibiotics and a topical treatment for the ringworm. Plus we will be spaying them as soon as they are old enough. So be careful when addopting a “free” kitten.
    Glad to hear you crossed that career off your list. I think everyone gives you credit for trying.

  3. Dear Jim and Rene;
    Irresponsible owners are the biggest…who knows, maybe even the only problem. I never understood a parent giving a child a dog as a birthday present without any prior discussion or teaching how to take care of a dog. A dog is not a toy.

    We need to address this issue with our representatives to make it mandatory to show adequate means (financial and a lot of common sense) before we allow people to own pets. It should be a crime to have a dog and neglect it the way many people do. What do we expect…..their children get no better care.

    happy traveling

  4. Uh, mmmm, well, not to be mean-spirited, but I would venture that you now understand why so many domestic pets are euthanized? Raising any creature of evolution takes resources.

    Mr. Future says we need just one more product on this Earth: Rottwieler Rubbers, or Shepherd Sheaths, or how about Kitty Covers? The real trick for even the most clever of sexy hungry Shitsus is rolling them out so as to not pull hairs. Then there’s that opposable thumb thing, man oh man, if it’s not one thing it’s another.

    Good on you folks for giving it the ‘ole RV’ers try.

    Best of intentions demand commitment don’t they?

    Nothing but aloha – Eric.


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