[UPDATE: The video has been taken down now, since apparently the copyright holders of the ABBA music felt that a non-profit organization using it was “too commercial” and was unlikely to boost the sales of a thirty-five-year-old song. Did you need more proof that attorneys are not bright?]
It’s been a while since I mentioned having worked in an animal shelter, a portion of my life from years back… and this isn’t being overly dramatic, since typically such things do become some aspect of your life. It’s not just a job; it’s an attitude, a mindset, an entirely different way of looking at things. Like medical work (I imagine,) you experience very distinctive highs and lows, more emotional peaks and troughs than many other careers. There’s a message that you constantly strive to get across to the public: pet overpopulation is a serious issue, resulting in lots of unnecessary anxiety, illness, and death among those animals that we usually want to consider our companions, and it stems almost entirely from just not being aware of how much certain practices (like unchecked breeding and irresponsible ownership) contribute to the problem.
On top of this, animals have a tendency to stir our emotional responses, which may sound like a good thing until you realize that some issues benefit far more from rational responses instead. Shelter workers are often faced with having to try to communicate practical approaches to people who block it out with kneejerk reactions. Not fun, and often more than a little stressful.
There are a lot of approaches, too, and the neighboring SPCA of Wake County (North Carolina,) with the assistance of POV Productions, has produced a fantastic one. Check it out:
SPCA Pet Adoption Video from Chester McPurrs on Vimeo.
Most impressive is that this is one long shot, tracking through the shelter and choreographed among a few dozen people. I don’t even want to know what kind of planning went into this.
I’ve visited that shelter a couple of times now, once getting the full tour not too long after the new structure was completed. It’s exceptionally well-planned, not just on the aesthetic end, but in details such as the ventilation systems being designed to minimize airborne pathogens, which can hammer a shelter’s population even worse than flu season for humans. The place really is that nice looking, though if I recall it typically has fewer streamers…
Non-profit organizations can run the gamut, but the successful ones that I’ve encountered always have a significant outreach program, finding ways to get local businesses and philanthropists involved as well as fostering a positive overall approach, both from the public and from its employees and volunteers. Which reminds me: many, probably most, of the people you see here are volunteers, since animal welfare isn’t a field that provides the funding for large staffs. So the impressive part isn’t just the production values of the video, or the appeal of the facility – it’s the contagious enthusiasm of the people involved, which requires no small amount of behind-the-scenes effort on the part of the administration and board. Wake SPCA, you guys rock.
And yes, it needs to be said: spay and neuter your pets – any reasons to avoid this are trivial and self-absorbed. Pets are an investment for life, just like kids. And “pure bred” is an idiotic concept, stemming from an ancient superstition that a bloodline carried some form of superiority. All domestic animal “breeds” are the result of human manipulation, and usually not to their benefit. Adopt one that needs a home.
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Posts from my own adventures in the field:
Flashback (November 9, 2009)
Flashback, Part Two (November 9, 2009)
Odd Memories, Part Two (August 30, 2010)
Odd memories, part three (October 27, 2010)