This is a continuation of my Reading Series for the non-fiction book, Dogland, where I blog my thoughts and reactions to each chapter as I read through the book. Please feel free to read along or comment on the topics below!
My favorite part of this chapter is a quote from Chris Protzman, who helped found the Blount County Animal Center in Tennessee. It’s something he would close his presentations with, when he would address the business community to raise money for the animal center:
“As a community we have a moral obligation to take care of companion animals. … We’ve created this bond with them that goes back centuries. We have an obligation to reconnect the bond. They did nothing wrong. We severed the bond; we created the problem. And as the caretakers of these animals given to us, entrusted to us, we have a moral and ethical obligation to fix this.” [Dogland, page 98]
I love that quote because I agree completely.
The chapter discusses ways in which animal shelters can work with private nonprofits to receive funding and help. It seems like a great model for shelters to use, so if you are interested in learning about them I definitely suggest reading the chapter to learn how these shelters operate.
This chapter gave me optimism for companion animals because it shows how shelters can be successful. Here in NYC, I often only hear stories of bad shelters or animals dying. So it’s nice to read something positive for a change!
Another important focus of the chapter is on volunteers who run these shelters. People who follow my blog probably work in rescue or advocacy and I imagine that they may have experienced what is termed “compassion fatigue.” This phenomenon is brought up in the chapter and when I came across it on the page, I instantly remembered how I used to feel when I spent hours every day sharing and commenting on death row dogs & cats posts on Facebook. Or how I felt when I was heavily involved in direct action activism. Because there seems to be exactly what the chapter title says, a “never-ending flood of need”, and because I feel so strongly that we have an ethical obligation to help animals, like Protzman described above, I have at times become so obsessed with trying to help animals that I completely worn myself out… and felt helpless and depressed to the point where I have had to take a step back outside the activist community to recharge.
What about you? Have you experienced compassion fatigue?
I don’t know how really to combat compassion fatigue, except I guess it just takes time to feel okay again. It’s important to remember that as advocates, volunteers, activists, etc, we have to take time for ourselves and self-care. This is difficult to do because I tend to feel guilty that I’m not doing more.
Does anyone else relate to this?
- Reading Series: Dogland (Prologue)
- Reading Series: Dogland – Ready or Not… Here She Comes
- Reading Series: Dogland – South Paws in the North
- Reading Series: Dogland – Property With a Heartbeat
Dogland: A Journey to the Heart of America’s Dog Problem can be purchased directly through Ashland Creek Press. Interested in a preview? A book excerpt is available here.