Volunteering for Arizona Game & Fish Department has proved very rewarding and exciting for us. However, the other day we discovered that there is an element of risk to it.
When we were asked if we would “man” the Tortoise Adoption Program booth at an animal adoption event, we gladly said “Yes!” As it turned out, the only animals at the event were dogs. No cats. No rabbits. No parrots. And no tortoises, of course, because they were all in their burrows for the season. Just dogs (and tortoise adoption information).
That was no problem, as it turned out, because we had a blast with all of them! We had more opportunities to rub ears, scratch backsides, and acquire “kisses” than ever before.
The “risk” to working in such event is the longing to take one of the canids home with us, even though we had long ago decided against more pets. It took a huge amount of willpower to walk away without an older golden retriever on a leash! Or a blue heeler. Or a chihuahua. Or a mutt. They were all well behaved and cute and begging for a forever home.
Leo and his Foster Pups
Next to our booth sat Leo, and in his lap was a puppy that was showering him with affection. Two other pups sat in a pen nearby, awaiting their turn. Leo and his wife foster dogs until they are placed in a permanent home. Talking with Leo revealed his great love and caring responsibility for these dogs. When I dropped a chunk of tuna from my sandwich at lunch, I offered it to Leo for one of the dogs. “Does it have mayo on it?” he asked. When I said yes, he very apologetically declined since it might not be healthy for the pup. Although he is given nearly-expired pet food from a pet store for his fosters, he buys special puppy food for the young dogs and pays for it himself.
Arizona Golden Rescue
On the other side of our booth was the Arizona Golden Rescue group, surrounded by golden retrievers. One of these dogs was pure white rather than gold, except for her fluffy ears and tail that had been dyed pink. She acted like she knew she is gorgeous! This dog is the seventh golden that her owner has adopted from AGR. Once again, it was obvious how much he cared for her, and it wasn’t difficult to imagine that he was just as fortunate to have her as she was to be adopted by him.
Respecting Pets and Wildlife
A lady who stopped by our booth to chat about snakes (we’d brought a couple of ours to attract visitors) spoke of how important education is in regard to neutering pets and caring for them. Too many unwanted animals spend too much time in cages and kennels longing to be adopted. “More education is what’s needed!” she said as she cringed while touching our Rosy Boa. “And that goes for respecting wildlife,” she added as she mentioned her fear of snakes, as well as her respect for their place in the ecosystem.
Sheriff’s Office Involvement
More booths with more breeds spread across the parking lot of a Toyota dealership in Surprise, Arizona. Even the Maricopa County Sheriff Office’s Animal Safe Haven (M.A.S.H. unit) displayed a booth with dogs for adoption. As their brochure states, “M.A.S.H. was created in May 2000 to support the Animal Criminal Investigations Unit and preserve live evidence animals involved in animal abuse and cruelty cases; this involves housing and caring for animals that have been abused or neglected by their caretakers. Detention Officers, Animal Care Technicians, Veterinary Staff, and sentenced inmates care for the animals daily.”
Several visitors stopped by our booth to ask about adopting a tortoise and to engage with our snakes. Being involved with this event proved to be very rewarding. Surrounded by hardworking, caring individuals that give up some of their time and finances to help these critters warmed our hearts. In fact, we just may “risk” working this event again!