(October 18, 2008) by Molly Hargrove, ARNO Volunteer and Student at St. Mary’s Dominican High School.
“What is the value and importance of community service in our society and tell us what it means to you?”
— Ohio Wesleyan University.
As an all-volunteer no-kill shelter with many physical limitations since Gustav, Animal Rescue New Orleans is doing everything they can to maintain their safe haven for abused, neglected, abandoned and stray animals. With little funding, and no paid staff, it seems it would be extremely difficult to run an operation completely with volunteers. But they do it, day in and day out, seven days a week, 12 hours a day. Many of the people that volunteer there on a daily (and nightly) basis are exhausted but they forge on no matter what. To some it may seem a waste of time, rescuing animals when the money could be spent elsewhere. But to those select few who work at ARNO’s shelter, nothing else could begin to compare to the elated feeling when a new home is found for a shelter pet. For me, Animal Rescue New Orleans is the perfect escape from a hectic teenage life, into an even more challenging reality.
I started volunteering at this shelter for community service hours for school, since I needed 40 hours in one weekend. It
was close to impossible. I realize now that the volunteer work we were required to do in order to graduate poses a great example of how humans should act — we should be helping others out of the goodness of our heart. I had tried volunteering at different jobs, like a daycare, but none had compared to the thrill that ran through me when I found out that there was actually a shelter that I could volunteer at in New Orleans. (I had previously been told I had to be eighteen to volunteer at other shelters in the city). Animals have always been my first love. As a child I remember sitting at my kiddy table writing out the words ‘cat’ and ‘dog’ when I had just learned to read and write. It took me many tries but eventually I got the two words down perfectly. When I learned that I needed service hours I immediately thought I would try a shelter. Not only would it give me the hours I needed, but it would also give me an edge in my quest to go to LSU School of Veterinary Medicine… Animal Rescue New Orleans provided the perfect environment for me.
I learned how to disinfect cages/kennels properly, studied their medical protocols for healthy ‘herd’ animals, learned how to administer medications to sick animals, and was shown how to bottle feed a newborn puppy or kitten correctly. I got a dose of reality when animals came in with chopped off feet or open wound flesh strips running down their spines, and grieved for the emaciated and pest-infested animals that never had a chance. I learned just how cruel the world had become and couldn’t live with how people treated these loving and perfect animals.
This is how I escaped. I became addicted to going to the shelter and providing the care these animals needed, finding homes for my favorite kittens, and dealing with the heartbreak that came with the loss of any animal. Nothing has ever excited me more than being with the people and animals of that shelter and
watching my imperfect world become part of something that was not even close to perfect by conventional standards, but perfect in my eyes, and the beautiful eyes of the animals we rescued.
Molly is just one of many young girls and boys who have fallen in love with ‘giving of themselves’ through community service hours. ARNO gains many volunteers
from service hour students who choose to continue coming to help our shelter pets long after their hours are completed. We salute our volunteers because without them there is no ARNO. Molly is a full-time high school student, works part time at PetSmart, and still finds time to volunteer at ARNO’s shelter.
Please honor all our volunteers and donate so their work can continue to help the animals of our region. Our Emergency Room fund is dangerously low and our rebuilding campaign needs quite a lot of help, too. Volunteers like Molly are learning that they have a gift of giving and caring. This is a part of ARNO, too… making sure that the future has caring and humane citizens that are educated about animal care.
There are so many who need our help every single day. We may be a small shelter, but we do our best to never turn down those who could not make it anywhere else but ARNO. But we really do need your help with donations for their medical needs and to shelter and care for them.
Our triage shelter is well setup to take care of most emergencies, like crashing kittens and malnourished pets. When there is injury or suspected internal trauma, or stitches needed, or support care of IV fluids and antibiotics, we do the same as you do for your pets. We go to the Emergency Animal Clinic. Our emergency fund needs support, we are down to just a few hundred dollars and these funds are critical for any animal that needs emergency care. Please DONATE and help us to continue caring for these pets when they are in need.