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Friday, March 22 , 2019, 10:04 pm | Fair 56º


Letter to the Editor: Animal Welfare Heroes

It was Thursday, Sept. 9, a day that left me feeling disappointed in humanity.

No one has any patience or knows the meaning of customer service anymore. From the guy who was popping wheelies on his motorcycle while driving behind me in the middle of downtown to the rude counter person where I buy lunch several times a week, I was feeling defeated. I was no longer interested in being at work.

The looming thoughts of our missing cat was weighing on my mind, and I felt like cruising the Internet in search of suggestions on how to find him, or perusing Craigslist in the hope that someone would post “Found: Male, Gray Cat!”

I landed on the Santa Barbara Humane Society Web site and came across its services for lost and found pets. I read the page that offered many recommendations and resources, and per its advice I thought I needed to drive there and take a look for myself. I immediately left work, knowing that it closed at 5 p.m.

I arrived at the Humane Society at 4:45 p.m. I explained to the nice gentleman behind the counter that we were missing a cat and that I was hoping I could look around to see if he was turned in. He let me know that they only take owner-relinquished pets at their facility but that I should check the Santa Barbara County Animal Services shelter around the corner. I quickly jumped in my car and drove over there.

When I arrived, the sign in the window said, “Sorry, We’re Closed.” Could this day get any worse? I noticed some photos by the door, so I thought I would go take a look anyway. As I was walking through the parking lot, a gentleman noticed me and asked if he could help me. He was an Animal Services officer. I explained that we lost a cat and I wanted to take a look to see if he had been turned in. He offered to take me over to the cat building and asked a woman who was just locking up the doors if there were any turn-ins. I was sure I was going to be asked to come back the next day, but instead, she directed us to the employees door a little farther down.

When we got to that door, he asked another woman if there had been any turn-ins from my neighborhood. She asked me if he was small (yes), gray (yes), male (yes), fixed (yes!). I had a good feeling. Sure enough, she took me into the room, and before I could get to his kennel, I could hear him meowing — he (aka Elmer) recognized my voice, or scent or whatever. He went crazy when he saw me. He was pawing at my head, face and hands — he was so happy to see me and so ready to go home!

The Animal Services officer took me back to the office so I could get Elmer released. When we got to the office, the woman at the counter was just finishing up her daily deposit and, at first, hesitated to process another animal after closing time. But she quickly realized she could do it and it wouldn’t take much time or effort. We actually had a nice conversation while she was helping me, and she, too, was very pleasant.

I went back to the kennel where the friendly staff helped me get Elmer a carrier to take home. I left the shelter believing again in humanity and the patience and kindness of people such as those at the Santa Barbara Humane Society and county Animal Services.

Our little boy is back at home now, safe and sound. I can’t thank the people at the shelter enough for their compassion and willingness to look after the welfare of our pets when they can’t find their way back home. And we are eternally grateful for the person who turned him in earlier that day.

Mary Lynn Harms
Santa Barbara

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