I was told at my interview that I would have to become euthanasia certified. I knew it was coming.
It’s not like I haven’t been around it. It first started at sanctuaries. Where the cats had been living there lives till the end and I knew that it was time to go. We had Vet’s that would come out, I would hold them, give it time, and we would bury them there. You start to find a familiar numb spot that you take those feelings to so that you can go about you job and not lose it.
Then working for Vets where you’re there to help those in need. Mostly, those animals were not common clients and it is your job to be supportive . Not emotional.
Working at kill shelters bring in the reality though. I never thought that I would be able to do so until there was not a no kill shelter in the town that I lived in.
I’m glad I had that before this position though. Otherwise the idea of both “Kill” and mainly, “Certified Animal Euthanasia Technician” would have sent me running for the hills.
My first job at a city shelter was a big deal for me. I was terrified.
I saw healthy animals go down because of space issues. Dogs deemed un-adoptable because they would jump on you after being taken out of a run.
I realized then, that there would always be plenty of people to help support to no kill shelters.
People put there money where it makes them feel good. With the fluffy kittens, the puppies with the irresistible stinky puppy breath, the pure bred that room was made for because people knew it would be easily adopted.
Who wants to see the aggressive dogs? The sick, fearful, territorial dog with a skin condition? That’s not fun. That’s not calender worthy. That’s not what you think of when you hear Sara Mclachlan’s “Arms of an Angle”
That makes you feel sad. It makes you want to wash your hands. Change your clothes. Shit, take a shower, turn the other way and make sure your kids don’t look. Because god forbid you go through the “Employee’s Only” door and not the “Adoptions” door.
It challenged me. It made me realize that no matter what we wish and hope for things to be like, there is always a dark reality.
I started to see these “un-adoptable” dogs and look at the “D” days that were written on there cage cards. It made me want to spend time with them. To give them treats and say sweet things. Cause who the fuck else was? People don’t go in that room to say “Aw, look at that dog”. They don’t get to go on walks, cuddled or even pet.
So I made a point to give them my attention. Because to me, in this line of work, you do not work for your own peace of mind. You work to give these animals a peace of mind.
And please, do not take this as a sign of arrogance. In fact, I’m feeling it is quite the opposite.
My teacher yesterday, the Director of the Louisiana Board of Veterinary Medicine had said that we have an extremely hard job. That not may people could do this job including herself.
It made we wonder and question my actions and how I deal with stress.
Am I crazy? Do I ignore the real problems at hand because all I see are fucking rainbows and Steenies cotton sweetness sliding down them into lollipop forests?
I don’t know.
But either way, this is my job and beyond that, this is my life.
“It’s not what you do that defines who you are. It’s who you are that defines what you do”
Those words definitely describe my career.
Never did I think, “I want to be Certified Animal Euthanasia Technician.”
No, I thought “I want to work with animals.” The more I grew and found my options in that field, rescue just made sense. And it fell into place perfectly.
Because of that, the lows are pretty far down there.
BUT, the up’s… Oh the up’s. The other day, my boss and I were giving a horse water. Who knows how long it had been since this horse had water, and it followed us around and kept wanting to put it’s head on our shoulder.
To take “aggressive” dog’s off a chain only for them soak you in it’s kisses.
The reward they give you for putting up with all the horror of the “behind scenes” makes up for it. And so because of that, I will always be there with them. To make them feel like they are special. To let them know that it’s not their fault.
And the least we can do as a human race, a race that has bred and bred, and became irresponsible and ignorant to their well being, is tell them that in the end. To apologize on behalf of man kind.
And if I am there to do it, then I know that it’s happening.
I’m not going to share my experience. If you’re curious, you can ask. But details are not what is important here. The task at hand is and more importantly, the reasons why.