Friday, May 15, 2009
Erin Fell - Thoughts About Super Adoption
Hi, I'm Erin Fell and I've been with No More Homeless Pets in Utah since 2001. Prior to that, I headed up the Northern Utah office of Best Friends Animal Society. In 2001, the Northern Utah office merged with No Homeless Pets in Utah and became one. I'm the Promotions Director and my job is to get the word out about our programs and events in the best way possible. So now that I've introduced myself, I just wanted to express my thoughts about our recent Pet Super Adoption which took place May 1-3. The theme was Adopt for Life.
This was actually my 20th Pet Super Adoption and so as you might imagine, the event has been on my mind a lot lately. With each new year comes preparations for May, our busiest month by far. The combination of the spring Pet Super Adoption and Strut Your Mutt can be a little daunting and this year, we added Canine Casino Night into the mix.. We have a wonderful staff with diverse talents and a hardcore work ethic but even so, there's no way our small office could do three large-scale events back to back. So how do we do it? With our dedicated and unstoppable volunteer team. That's why I want to take a minute and send my deepest thanks to all the amazing No More Homeless Pets in Utah volunteers who enable these events to happen. It's because of their hard work, dedication, and willingness to do whatever it takes that these life-saving events happen year after year.
Like everyone who works in animal welfare, I feel an urgency with everything we do because it may mean resources to save another life.
With a tough economy and a questionable forecast, we went into this year's Super Adoption a little worried. There's a joke among Pet Super Adoption veterans that it's not really a typical weekend without some kind of insane weather challenge. That could include snowstorms, torrential rains, monsoon winds or blistering heat - we've seen it all.
So last year when we had two events with perfect weather, we figured this year we were in for trouble. Mother nature was not to disappoint and the heavens opened up throughout the three days with soul-soaking rains. But interestingly enough, it didn't matter. At the end of the weekend, we actually did more adoptions than we did last spring - 427 adoptions to be exact. What an amazing feeling to be part of 427 lives saved! I was just talking to one of my media reps who said that maybe the bad weather actually helped this time around - the idea of adversity bringing people together for a common goal. It's that idea that makes our organization work and it's also a nice thought. In this field, you see a lot of awful things people do to animals but you also see the really good side of people.
I can't express how much I love the way everyone comes together during the three days of the Pet Super Adoption for something bigger than all of us. It's like being part of a special club. Despite tough manual labor and potluck weather, I see the same cheerful faces year after year
- volunteers helping carry heavy fence panels for dog runs, pinching fingers in cat tower assembly efforts, perching precariously on tables attaching banners and signs, staying up till the wee hours to help create graphics and rushing to help put palettes and tarps in place during the inevitable downpour. These are people who could be relaxing at home, warm and dry on Super Adoption weekend.....after all they just finished a long work week at their jobs. But instead, they're with us working sometimes 12 hour days to help Utah's homeless dogs and cats.
I could go on and on with the names of so many selfless individuals who put everything they have into making these events a success. The set-up crew, the dog and cat tent captains, the tear-down teams, the friends who agree to get up at 4 AM to be part of a TV live shot. It's the people I see throughout the year helping us with event after event and the people I see twice a year who know this event means a brand new life for those dogs and cats adopted. I once asked a volunteer what brought her to us and she described it in this way. "My 9 to 5 job puts food on the table, my volunteer work with the animals is food for my soul."
You can't help but be jazzed by volunteers like that. I have to admit I feel a little giddy when I see all the excited people waiting for the gates to open each day. It something I can't describe when I see the enthusiastic faces of people who have made that perfect human-animal connection. It's the unadulterated joy I see in those wagging tails and reaching kitty paws, the bigger than life personalities that shine from cages and kennels and beckon people to stop by with a pet and some baby talk. It's the clever ways that rescue groups introduce you to their furry charges. And you can't help but be touched by the stories of each individual fuzzy face when you pause to chat. How the animals came to be at Super Adoption - well some of the stories are heartwarming and some are heartbreaking but each dog and cat is an individual and it's our collective hope that they will find a happy ending during this special weekend. Like Lily the black Lab mix whose "owners" wrapped wire around her muzzle to keep her from barking. Was she barking in hopes that someone would just care? I know Lily will always carry the scars of this horrific abuse but her sweet soul remains. As she pushed her scarred muzzle into my palm, I told her this time she would find a caretaker who deserved her devotion and non-stop tail wagging.
So many deserving dogs and cats finding their homes at last and so many caring people passionate about saving animal lives. It's a pretty heady combination and something you are proud to be part of. So many things were on my mind as my seven year-old son and I finished loading trucks on Sunday night. But I will close with one final thought - rain and all, there are 427 reasons to love Super Adoption. Erin