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I volunteer at Fix ‘Ur Cat for two reasons: the dedication of the other volunteers here, and the importance of the mission we all serve. First, the people … I’ve spent a lifetime working for a living and surrounded by others doing the same. It’s been breathtaking for me to encounter an entire group where nobody makes a dime for their efforts. They all show up simply because they are that dedicated. It’s amazing and humbling to witness.
The breadth of skills present in this group is remarkable: everything from animal husbandry to office admin work, from client and community education to assisting in the general duties of maintaining a vet clinic. The work is not all interesting or challenging, though. Chores need to be done, especially when you deal with animals. Our volunteers tidy up the clinic, clean litter boxes, wipe down treatment areas, and take out the trash. None of these are dream jobs, but they’re all necessary. Our people bring the same level of dedication to all of it.
Some of our volunteers transport cats in their own vehicles at their own expense when we have an off-site surgery day at Animal Friends. These are not happy cats, mind you—some of them aren’t even domesticated. So, these volunteers subject themselves to an hour’s drive (up to four times in one day) of wailing cats, none of whom are appreciative of the effort being made on their behalf. This only happens a few times a month now since we opened our own surgical suite late in 2019, but some volunteers were doing this up to three times per week until just a few months ago. They did that for years. That’s what it took to make low-cost spay/neuter available in Washington County, so our people did it.
While some of our volunteers (like me) have some discretionary time to donate, many really don’t, yet they work hard for Fix ‘Ur Cat anyway. Some manage to help despite having full-time jobs and/or a family to take care of. I can’t imagine how they do that but somehow, they do. It’s amazing what these people make possible simply because they care so much.
As for the mission we serve with such passion, it has evolved over time. Our initial focus was cat population control, not least because the more cats there are, the more cats there are who will never have a safe and caring home. Population control is essential to reducing the suffering of cats in general.
Doing this work naturally involves a strong human services component as well. It gives us the opportunity to meet many vulnerable, income-sensitive members of our community who need the comfort and companionship of pets at least as much as anyone due to the stressful nature of their lives, yet lack the resources to keep those pets as healthy and long-lived as possible. It became obvious to us that low-cost spay/neuter services are essential, but also that they are not enough. In order to serve our community—both cats and people—the best, we must also provide low-cost basic veterinary care, so now we do that, too.
What began as a mission to improve the well-being of local cats has become a mission to extend basic veterinary services to those haven’t had access to them until now. It has become a mission to include often-overlooked members of our community, helping them to enjoy a few more of the advantages so many of us are able to take for granted, treating them with the dignity and respect that we all deserve.