I believe that Thanksgiving is a time to look at all the blessings in our lives and give thanks. It is a day of gratitude. All the good food is just a side benefit. Though things are very difficult at the Animal Protection League right now with all the animals who are pouring through our doors I am thankful for so many things. I am consciously choosing to look higher.

As we’ve discussed animal shelters are emotionally hard places for animal lovers to be. It is not for the faint of heart. We here at APL are blessed that we have a staff who are compassionate and love animals. Some of us come back after hours to check on animals we are worried about — to provide comfort and love. I think it speaks to our staff’s character, though our hearts are broken on a daily basis; we keep showing up.

We have volunteers who work full-time jobs which they are paid for and yet they put in countless hours of their free time to help the animals and staff at APL. For some of them this is like a second full-time job they do not get paid for. We could not do what we do without them. And they too keep coming back.

Our dog walkers are a dedicated group who come regardless of the weather to spend time with our dogs and give them a needed break from the kennels. Our cat people take home cats on a regular basis just to get them out of the shelter and they keep our off-site adoption locations up and running. We are blessed that APL is like a second family for many of us. A family by choice who provides comfort, support and laughter in this very hard thing we do.

From the beginning of assuming the responsibility of the care portion of Animal Care and Control we have had remarkable community support providing supplies, adopting our animals and financial donations. We are so very blessed and thankful for this support.

The greatest gift of all are the beautiful animals we take care of every day. We are surrounded by unconditional love. We just have to open our eyes and see it.

These animals we care for provide as much comfort and joy to us as we do them as we go through our day. Though they are living in cages most remain loving if only given the chance. Being in the presence of these animals is a blessing. And though we may be sad as to why they are here we can take joy in the beauty of their spirits and simply the fact that they exist and that animals are a gift from God.

On a personal note, I am so very blessed for the pets in my life who have come from APL. They have saved me time after time and give me comfort and love every single day. These remarkable beings remind me of the good in the world and why I do this job.

I want to thank the volunteers who are providing a Thanksgiving meal on Thursday for my staff who have to work. This is so thoughtful and appreciated. In taking the time to look higher, I find that we are blessed beyond words. I just had to look.

Maleah Stringer is executive director of the Animal Protection League, 613 Dewey St., Anderson. She can be reached at 765-356-0900 or at maleahstringer@aol.com.

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