Driving home after my visit to the Meriden Humane Society, I mistakenly thought a radio ad said "if you only have 12 hours left to live, get to blah, blah, car dealer before it's too late." I heard wrong (only 12 hours left until the sale ended.) But it got me to thinking, what would I do if I only had 12 hours left to live? A few years ago I would have said I'd go hiking with my dog at Sleeping Giant Park or go on an epic bike ride in the Southern Berkshires. Not any more.
If I had only 12 hours left or 12 days or 12 months, I spend it at an animal shelter. I'd hold every cat and walk every dog getting them out of their cages for as long as I could. I'd also spend those last hours with some of the friendly and warm people I've met at the shelter. How lucky would I be to live my last hours giving love (something we humans and those animals need more of!) to homeless pets that are so longing for it.
This week at the Meriden Humane Society (MHS) I met a bunch of terrific volunteers and several cuddly and funny cats and dogs. I probably could have stayed there all day, but people started coming in to adopt :) or drop off :( and I wanted the folks there to do their business without this pesty blogger, asking more questions and hugging every pet in sight.
While I was there, the Director, Marlena DiBianco, gladly took me around their large facility. The first thing I noticed was the many volunteers and staff (old and young) walking dogs and scurrying about feeding, cleaning and assisting visitors. You could pick out the staff by the colorful t-shirts they wore emblazened with the quote "Humanity begins with me!" Two staff members, Amanda and Kaitlynn, joined us and introduced me to some of the many cute, entertaining and funny dogs. (It was hard not to take one of them home particulary Jiffy and Ramsey.)
You have to understand these shelters are a whirlwind of activity. Dogs are barking, some cats roam free, volunteers are coming in and out, people are constantly cleaning, cages are everywhere, and visitors are coming in to look at animals. Sadly, others are dropping animals off. The people who run these facilities are literally running when I get there. I try to make my visits short hoping to meet some of the animals and get the word out so people (like yes you!) will come down and see more of them or donate money or like me find their purpose amidst the bustle and end up doing more.
Marlena has been the Director for eight years. Amanda and Kaitlynn started as volunteers and now are there every day. They said its hard to stay away. Meriden Animal Control is in the same building, and MHS works closely with them to take in and adopt out the animals. MHS takes in cats and dogs, Meriden Animal Control can only take in dogs. So that partnership is important.
There are about 32 volunteers and seven staff at MHS, and they also get student volunteers through a program at Lyman Hall. Marlena told me adoptions at her facility are stagnant, meaning as many come in as get adopted out. And they (like other places I've visited) are full.
During my visit, a woman brought in a young handsome mix. She was afraid he was going to hurt her older dog. The staff were talking amongst themselves trying to figure out where an empty cage might be. I believe I was the only one giving the woman a dirty look and feeling crestfallen, but the staff jumped into action. If there is a heaven, these folks will have a front row seat.
I can keep writing about how great it was to hold Giffy the goofy Pekinese or how Marlena stoically told me the story of a woman who dropped off her 5 year old dog because she was having company for the holidays. Or how Amanda and Kaitlynn began volunteering -- the former as a Girl Scout and the latter coming here with a friend who had to do community service and never leaving. Or about how Marlena, stopping to buy groceries, ended up following a stray cat from the parking lot to an abandoned house where 25 other cats were living. (No grocerices bought that day of 25 cats saved.) Or about how the pooch Ramsey, whose owner was too feeble to care for him, looks out the window at every car that comes in waiting for his owner to come pick him up.
But I'll stop and leave you with this, someone once told me that we were put on this earth "to love and be loved." If you have it in your hearts to spread some love this holiday season perhaps for 12 hours or 12 months or 12 years, please consider adopting a shelter pet. I've found my humanity at an animal shelter, you can too!
Below are some of the many cats and dogs at the Meriden Humane Society patiently waiting for you!
Cats (adopt one for $5)
Autumn a beautiful female orange and white long haired kitty is about 9 months old and takes a few minutes to warm up, but is a love.
Louie a grey and white domestic short haired cat about 2 years old, just as friendly as can be!
Walter another grey and white domestic short hair, who jumped in my lap and was the friendliest cat I've ever met. But he must be adopted with his two companions.
Kanga and Roo a grey and orange duo who come as a pair. Their front paws are slightly deformed but this does not stop them from walking or jumping. Kanga is all personality and Roo is sweet. They stand on their hine legs and look like mini Kangaroos.
Dogs (adopt one for $75)
Giffy (my favorite) a male, 5 year old Pekinese justs loves everything and everyone.
Simba a male, 7 year old golden retriever who is full of energy and loves cats (a big plus!)
Ramsey (my other favorite!) a 6 year old, small golden/collie mix. He is a little shy, but loyal, low key and warms right up to people. Also great on the leash.
Roxie a female, 1 1/2 year old pitbull, who is friendly and love kids, but doesn't like smaller dogs.
Meriden Human Society, 311 Murdock Ave,Meriden, CT 06450
Open: Wednesday through Sunday: 12:00 p.m.-6:00 p.m.
Monday and Tuesday: Closed
Their Wish List: http://members.petfinder.com/~CT20/Wishlist.htm