As I've made clear in previous columns since June, the Animal Protection League is in an almost a constant state of being overwhelmed with the high number of animals brought to our shelter. We are barely surviving. Our primary goal is to make sure the animals are cleaned, fed, watered and medicated while other things are falling to the wayside. We had our monthly Animal Protection League board meeting last week. I gave my report; it was bleak. I very simply broke down and told my board that we are overwhelmed and need help. Immediately. The Animal Protection League board, which consists of Holly Miller, Greg Graham, Lori Sylvester, Joni Brinkman, Liz Hobbs, Deb Shearer, Beth Gephardt, Don Hodson, and Curt Duncan, went into action. They came up with a plan, asked their friends and family to help. The Community Action Day to help the Animal Protection League was Sunday, August 11. Five board members and their troop of volunteers came armed with rubber gloves, cleaning supplies, shelving, and enthusiasm. Space inside the shelter was reorganized, created and completely cleaned. The shed outside was purged and cleaned. Much needed landscaping was tended to as well. The lives of animals and our staff were made better in a few short hours. And what was most amazing is that every dog in our shelter got to go on a walk and spend some quality time with people. This alone was golden. It helped to alleviate some of the stress that these animals experience in a shelter. This is what happens when you have a great community, a common cause and you make a plea for help. This helped our board members grow closer to each other and more committed, and it allowed the volunteers -- many had never been to the shelter — to see and understand the plight of shelter animals in our community. Many people saw the problems of homeless animals in our community up close and personal on Sunday. Several told me it changed how they see shelters and people who work there. This volunteer event was a success on several levels. It got lots of work done and will help us better serve our animals and our staff. People were educated about shelter animals, and the staff and myself saw that we are not alone in our struggle to do the best we can for these animals. It gave us hope. Particularly me. Thank you to the Animal Protection League Board who listened to my plea for help and made this happen. Thank you to the community of volunteers who worked on their Sunday simply because they were asked. Thank you to the staff at the Animal Protection League for hanging on in impossible circumstances. It has been a difficult summer. I believe we can change how homeless, abused animals are treated in our community. It does not have to be the way it has always been. Sunday was a start toward this goal. Please come walk our dogs and pet our cats. It matters. Go to www.inapl.org for our hours.
Maleah Stringer is executive director of the Animal Protection League, 613 Dewey St., Anderson. She can be reached at 356-0900 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.