Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Outside Looking In

Queretaro, Mexico
Jurica Shelter
September, 2004

I stay outside.

I always stay outside.

Well, not always. I stay outside when, like today, more than a dozen will lose their lives.

I can hear them, still playing, not knowing what is going to happen next. I am saddened even though I know what is happening is best. I know that for every human baby born there are fifteen puppies and forty-five kittens born. None of them had a voice in their existence and none of them can change the course of their lives. I know that without euthanasia, these animals would face abandonment, suffering and starvation. Kelly has seen countless lives worse than death for too many animals. Compared to the pain of that sort of existence, euthanasia by loving hands is a blessing.

But I am still sick to my stomach.

I notice a young Mexican man standing beside me, leash in one hand connected to a beautiful Golden Retriever. We nodded but said nothing.

I can still hear the dogs, the puppies, the kittens. I try not to think about what was happening – all humane, all silent, but death is death no matter how you label it. Maybe I should go sit in the car.

He broke the silence. “What are you doing here?” he asked.

“My wife helps on these days. And, you?”

“I love animals,” he said softly. “I come here every week. My company sponsors me here.”

“Really, what does that mean?” I asked.

“It means that those of us who are interested in helping others can apply to have 2 hours off each week, paid by the company, to help. I chose here. But, like you,” he smiled gently, “I can’t go in there right now.”

“You mean they just give you 2 hours off each week?”

“Not exactly,” he replied. “There is a bargain. They give me off 2 hours a week, if and only if, I will match the 2 hours a week with 2 hours of my own time. So, I’m here 4 hours a week. And, every month, I provide a report on how my work is making a positive difference.”

“And, is your work making a positive difference?”

“I believe so,” he said, not boasting. “I am an accountant. I have set up a new accounting system for the shelter and worked on fund-raising. My company is matching $1 for every $5 I raise.
That means better care, more staff . . .” he hesitated.

That moment the silence struck us like a bat in the belly. It was quiet. It was over.

He looked up. “But, it is never enough, is it?” he plead.

“No. It is never enough. But, thanks to you and companies like yours, there will be fewer voices that go silent next week.”

He nodded, tears forming in his eyes. I shook his hand and walked to the car and waited.

Moral of The Story: Employers who understand, value, and support their employees’ connections with community and charity and both participate and help fund those efforts create a bond that cannot be bought with the next raise or bonus. These companies deserve a sincere thanks and soon learn that the expression of care and compassion for employees on a personal level and appeasing Wall Street are not mutually exclusive. If every company heeded this aphorism, employee morale and satisfaction would increase dramatically and along with it, productivity and profitability.

P.S. S.A.M.M. (Save a Mexican Mutt) is bulging at the seams. We have two wonderful dogs – a mother and her pup (Bull Terrier mixes) –who desperately need homes. Have Dogs, Will Travel. Pictures are available by request.


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