I have been retired for more than two years, and although the AAHA presidency, lecturing, and board work have kept me pretty busy, I wanted to be sure I stayed connected to the practice of veterinary medicine. I also want to give back to the profession that has been so good to me over the years.

Giving Back

One of the ways I do that is by volunteering at a local cat shelter. The group that runs the shelter is amazing. They have hearts of gold, are practical, and make a wonderful difference to our feline friends every day. The work is stimulating and I get to see a side of veterinary practice that many of us never see.

These volunteers work an incredible number of hours per week and handle their work with compassion, care, and professionalism. They are not a bunch of “crazy cat ladies” as so many of us perceive this type of organization to be. They have minimal financial assistance and raise all of their expense money through donations and fundraisers. It’s not an easy task, but they do it well and I have gained a huge amount of respect and admiration for what they accomplish. Plus, it’s a fun job, so it’s not really work—I have always felt that if you enjoy what you’re doing, you can’t call it work.

By working at the shelter as needed, I can be the first line of preventive care and treat minor problems as well as administering vaccines. This has a big impact on the shelter’s budget. They also work with local veterinary hospitals for more complex problems and surgery, but I can triage the cases first. It’s a win-win for everyone.

Volunteering has altered my outlook on local volunteer shelters and given me a whole new perspective on how much can be done by a dedicated group of enthusiastic and determined people. I urge anyone in our profession who has the opportunity to volunteer at this type of operation to do so. The rewards are many and the difference you can make is priceless.

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