Unable to get your important message through?

Some will relate to this. Some will not.
As Adoption Coordinator at Miami's municipal animal shelter it often seems important messages I try to relay are falling on deaf ears. They are.
Daily I encounter people turning in their pets because, "they're moving, they've had a new baby, they've lost their job, the pet was never really theirs and they were just watching it- for a few months or years, and so on and so on."
Time and time again I respond saying things such as, "Your pet should be a part of your family. A pet is not disposable, it's a living, breathing,sentient being. This should be your absolute last option. Have you weighed your other options? I moved here from Kentucky and brought my 2 dogs, cat and bird along with me- moving is not a reason to surrender a pet, and so on and so forth."
Time and time again I hear great ideas from shelter volunteers. They say things like, "Why doesn't the shelter do follow up calls for adopters? Why doesn't the shelter have a race where everyone can run with a shelter pet? Why doesn't the shelter put bandannas on all the dogs? and so on and so forth."
I challenge these volunteers to DO IT! Make it happen. I say things like, "I love your idea. That would be amazing, now why don't you get it going? Make it your special project and when you're making some progress with the overall plan let's touch base and move forward."
I explain to volunteers that as one person I can only do so much (foster program, helping adopters daily, pet of the week, pet depictions online, training adoption counselor volunteers, etc., etc) and that I/the shelter need them to breathe life into their ideas and projects, making them happen.
Of the people with whom I've had this conversation none of them have followed through. We have EXCELLENT volunteers and this is not to knock them but to make the point: in life you will inevitably feel an important message or purpose you're devoting your time, breathe and energy too is, at times, falling on deaf ears and being seen by blind eyes. That is, if you are devoting some portion of your life to some purpose greater than yourself.
I encounter this frustration daily on a very intimate, personal level, on various levels. Animal Welfare is my life's passion. Daily I meet people who refuse to spay and neuter their pets when I know it's the right thing to do. I see innocent dogs and cats losing the fragile battle of life daily due to pet overpopulation. I see mammary tumors develop on unaltered females, countless unaltered males end up at the shelter because they were out, following instinct, 'roaming,' looking to mate. Yet I hear at least 1-3 people a day refusing to sterilize their pets. This can become draining, overwhelming, exhausting and depressing. But...
I know there's a light at the end of the tunnel. I know this through my own life experience (that's really how we learn everything we know when you break it all down, through our own personal experiences).
Let me backtrack and give examples of when I was on the receiving end of people trying to get an important message through to me and I wouldn't listen.
As a very young person (14-22 yrs. old) I abused alcohol and drugs. I had zero self esteem or self worth. I was careless with my own life and that of others. I would constantly drink and drive, would take shameful risks when under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs and basically didn't give a damn whether I lived or died. I paid the price for my careless way in more ways than you can likely imagine. (Note: during these 'crazy years' I still had respect and awe for nature and animals- my passion for environmental and animal welfare has never escaped me but clearly I couldn't effectively advocate as an addict). During these 'crazy' years many people tried to get through to me. When I was 18 years old a police woman at an Indiana jail told me, "You're too pretty, too young to be here. What are you doing to yourself?"
My father sobbed, begging me to change my ways at the age of 17. My mother could barely look at me for a while to preserve her own sanity and feelings. My grandmother... I can't even go there. She's well... my grandmother.
Anyhow, I heard the same messages time after time, yet time after time I would commit the same crimes, make the same potentially fatal mistakes. The'important messages' I was being given by many were not getting through. I spent nearly 10 years on and off the 'wrong path.' I'm lucky to be alive. I'm lucky to have graduated from college, to be a sane, functioning, tax-paying, honorable citizen.
Eventually everything everyone had said to me, emotions and energy they had shared with me, time and time again, began to sink in on some level. I went into recovery (did some inpatient, some outpatient) at the age of 20. I turned 21 sober. It was weird.
Now a couple of things in particular stick out in my memory...concepts, messages, ideas I could not comprehend at one time, that I now accept as fact.
One example, my sponsor in AA, Mary Jane (yes, that's her real name), would tell me "God is Everything or God is Nothing." We would argue about this ideology years ago. I just didn't get it. How could God be Everything? That would make God part of bad things too. Impossible. Now I believe and accept this as reality and fact.
And, think of all of the great, early on explorers,  inventors, doctors such as, Magellan, the Wright Brothers, Albert Schatz, etc. How do you think they must have felt trying to get their important life-changing, world-changing messages, ideologies and theories through to the masses?
They must have felt very overwhelmed, depressed, frustrated, and even hopeless at times.
But they didn't give up.
People didn't give up on me when I was clueless, hopeless. And I won't give up on people when they're clueless, hopeless.
Those who truly believe in what they're 'fighting for,' the important messages they're trying to get through to the world will not and cannot give up.
So the next time you're getting frustrated, trying to get your important message through to someone who's just not getting it... take a deep breathe, know that your efforts are not in vain, that it may be months, or even years before your message sinks it, but, eventually it will, as long as the message you're trying to relay is a good one.
...What's a "good message?" One that's not self-serving, one that benefits at least one living being (human, plant or animal) on this planet and does not harm anyone or thing in the process of benefiting the other(s).
That's a good message. Blessed be yours. -If you don't have one, get one.


  1. I feel the need to add: for the few 'negative follow-up volunteer examples' I gave in this blog, there are DOZENS of very positive volunteer support examples I could share... everything from fund raising, fostering pets, promoting pets online to spending countless hours socializing shelter pets... just to make that clear! That may go into some other blog!!


Post a Comment