April 16th, 2008


shelter work

I started in the animal shelter at 0800 sharp, monday morning.

First and worst about the shelter job - the smell. It's earthy and sour and permeates everything, and sticks to my clothes and my car all the way home, and if i close my eyes right now and think of the shelter, i can smell it.

Not that the place is gross - the whole place is constantly being cleaned, as soon as one kennel person finishes scrubbing a room, someone else starts from the other side. it's just that there's 700+ animals in one building, and a certain odor is unavoidable.

Other than that, it's a pretty good job. I'm still learning the system, but I'm already doing a lot on my own. The hardest part is going to be learning the nuances of their computer system. When i get there in the morning, there are printed lists of what animals are to get what medications. I load up a tray with dollops of canned food w/ pills hidden inside, and distribute the meds to the animals. Pretty simple, but i get hung up on the stupid things, like trying to give one dog in a cage a pill while the other five dogs in the cage are trying to snatch it out of my hand, or finding my way through the maze of rooms w/o benefit of a map, or even a set of keys. After medicating, I enter notes in the computer about every patient. This takes about 1-2 hours.

Once everyone is medicated, I check in the patients that arrived overnight - do a physical, scan for a chip, place a labeled collar, vaccinate, note behaviour, check for fleas and ticks, and deworm pups and kittens. All of this information is input into the computer is well. I will mark the kennel cards as done, and the kennel attendants come around a few times daily and move the animals from receiving to general population.

Middle of the day is a bit of downtime - check animals noted by kennel attendants to be ill, and help the vets with any treatments or exams as they need it. At 1500, the animal control trucks start coming in, and there's a mass influx of dogs and cats to be checked in. More exams, more collars, more vaccines.

It's really astonishing how many obviously owned animals - friendly, happy, well fed and well groomed animals - come in picked up as stray, no tags, no chip. It would be so easy to guarantee a reunion with a pet, and people can't make the small effort to ID their own animals.

That said, I noted when i came home tonight that Flea's tags contain three phone numbers, none of which work anymore. I'll have to fix that.

Anyway, once the animals are off the trucks, it's time to medicate again. More pills, more data entry. So my day there is pretty busy. We work very independently, with not much direct supervision, so that takes a little getting used to. Self-motivation isn't my strongest point, but i'm sure that if my co-workers see any slacking at all, they'll let my know.

I've been told that as a drinker of coffee and rider of motorcycle, i'm fitting in there just fine. it's an interesting group. My schedule has been 0800-1730, but starting with my Wednesday shift, it's 1000-1930 - much better. I'm volunteering to work weekends, so I've got my choice of weekdays off. Not too bad.

I've only fallen in love with one chihuahua ... she's got deformed front legs and i want to name her Sideshow. Charles is not as enthusiastic about the idea.

So that's how the job is going, if you were wondering. I'm liking it.

Also, if anyone in the Riverside area is interested in fostering kittens or puppies for 2-4 weeks at a time, please let me know. it's an amazing program that helps prevent the euthanasia of young, but otherwise adoptable, pups and kittens.
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