Written by Becky Snyder, Rotaract Oshkosh
My love for animals is sort of excessive.
As a proud owner of adopted kitties and someone who can’t wait to adopt a dog (or two or three once we have the home space) it’s no surprise that volunteering at the Oshkosh Area Humane Society with our Rotaract group was high on my wish list.
Arriving at the shelter, I was pleasantly surprised to see the welcoming memorial garden (even in the snow it was tranquil and lovely) and the two cat galleries at the front of the building. I barely made it inside the lobby before I was inside the cat room scooping up a new and unsuspecting feline friend.
The evening began with an in-depth tour of the facility. Going from the lobby to the kennels to the caregiving area, I couldn’t be more pleased with the shelter. Mild-tempered cats can roam the shelter as they please, free to be pet or picked up by visitors and potential adopters. You don’t see tiny wire cages, but suites and large rooms; television screens with water bubbles for cats to paw at; private rooms for dogs who are not yet accustomed to the shelter environment, and huge glass “galleries” for adoptable cats.
Although I had a hard time paying attention to the tour (Read: Easily distracted by cute animals), I learned that the shelter does everything to help homeless become healthy and feel cared for and loved during their stay. One of the most interesting things to see was a room specifically for incoming cats with litter box issues. One reason a cat is surrendered may be because he or she isn’t using the litter box correctly. To help those particular cats, the shelter has a space where cats stay for up to a week to assess the nature of the reported problem. Is it a behavioral issue with the cat or another factor, like a home that failed to keep the litter box clean or had too many cats, both of which create added stress. What the shelter has found is that almost 99 percent of cats do not have a problem using a litter box when the box is well-kept.
We also had time to visit the 30 bunnies the shelter rescued from a home just a week ago. It’s sad, and I suppose naïve, to think that everyone who owns animals takes superb care of them. And that;s exactly why properly run shelters and foster homes are so important to animal welfare efforts.
Now to the nitty gritty: We were given our tasks and divided and conquered. Meredith and I bleached and organized a hallway near dog kennels to ensure that no airborne illnesses or bacteria could be transferred from food, toys or homes. We then joined the rest of the group to finish bleaching and sanitizing “rescue,” the new cat arrival room. When a cat is brought into the Humane Society, they are quarantined in a private, secluded area to make sure they do not carry any diseases and to assess their personality and temperament. (After a week or so, shelter staff conduct a “catitude” or a “caninality” assessment to determine the personality of an animal before moving them to the adoption floor.)
All in, we had a great time volunteering. And, actually, my husband and I are going back soon to adopt a new pet. I would encourage anyone interested in helping the Oshkosh Area Humane Society to check out their website (www.oahs.org) or stop by to visit or donate or even adopt an animal.
As Bob Barker would say, “Help control the pet population. Have your pet spayed or neutered.” (…I had to!)
Until next time,