Save-A-Pet, Save Some Faith

May 1, 2010
By Darika BRONZE, Long Island, New York
Darika BRONZE, Long Island, New York
3 articles 0 photos 1 comment

Save-A-Pet is a non-profit animal shelter in Port Jefferson Station, Long Island, New York. They rescue animals, nurture them, and house them until they find a home of their own. I started volunteering there in December 2009 and I don’t ever plan on leaving. I knew I belonged there the moment I began.

Sure, no one enjoys cleaning up cat and kitten, or dog and puppy waste, but all of the volunteers here have one thing in common: we all love doing something to bring joy in a misfortunate, helpless animal’s life. It’s not their fault they were born a stray or abandoned by their so-called family, so why not give them a better life to live for? Save-A-Pet is a temporary home for these guys until they find a loving, caring family of their own. We make sure that the homes our foster-animals go to are affectionate ones.

What made volunteering at Save-A-Pet a moving personal experience for me is that I gained a whole new spark of hope. When I began, I had been fighting an illness that lasted me a grand total of two months. I was also living in an unfinished den with my mother, father, younger brother, dog and cat while the rest of our house underwent construction (we ended up living in one room together for a grand total of six months). The den had no heat, was only about the size of a large bedroom, and very cramped between the six occupants. I did not feel at home there - it was neither comfortable or comforting. The combination of the stresses of being sick and stuck in this one room during the bitter winter caused me to enter a dark depression. I am typically an upbeat, positive person, but no matter what I did, everything seemed so bleak.

Within the first two or three weeks of volunteering, I met Sam - a handsome Russian Blue/Tabby mix with bright green affectionate eyes and a loving disposition. I instantly formed a connection with Sam (after a few weeks, I even started calling him “Sammy Blue”) and made my parents promise that we could adopt him if he was still available when our house was finished with construction. But I feel the bond I had with Sammy Blue got strengthened when I realized he was also suffering from a similar illness as me.

When I would arrive at the shelter, I’d instantly race to Sam’s cage to clean it first, working hard on it to make it comfortable for him. I love helping to make the environments clean, happy and healthy for all the animals there, but it was Sam who I was most concerned about because I knew how uncomfortable he must be. I found myself looking forward to going just so I could see Sam. We knew exactly how the other one was feeling - sick and homeless.

By mid-January, I considered myself almost 100% medically recovered, and a couple of rooms in my house were finished - one of which was my bedroom - so I could finally escape from the crowded den and have some time for myself. But unfortunately, the same could not be said for Sam. His symptoms started worsening. You could see his distress. He started becoming hostile through his discomfort, which was so unlike him. I continued to work hard, even took extra time cleaning his cage and spending time with him, to make him happier. I even got him to come out of the cage a few times and he rested in my arms.

Towards the end of January, Sam was tested for his illness to try to find a treatment for it. He was kept in a different pen and we were ordered not to clean it out for testing purposes, so I was not able to see him as much as I had hoped, but I still visited him and spent time with him any spare moment I got. He seemed to be improving - his friendly character returned and he wasn’t acting as aggressive.

To my dismay, I had to skip one week of volunteering, and when I returned Sammy Blue was gone. Being too afraid of knowing of his fate, I put off asking what became of him a few more weeks. Finally, I built up enough courage and asked. He had been adopted. I was overjoyed. Sam had a home, hopefully (and most likely) with a family that was just as affectionate as he is.

Knowing Sam gave me a whole new outlook on my own personal state. His dark, bleak situation had been lifted - his illness had been treated as he was seen fit enough to be adopted. In the end, he got the two things we were both striving for: recovery and a home. It gave me (and still gives me) hope for myself. Just as he had recovered, I had recovered. And my house is, slowly but surely, coming closer to being finished. Having Sammy Blue in my life helped me bounce back into having a more positive outlook on life. Because of Sam, I know everything will work out for the best in the long run.

The author's comments:
This essay was written for for the Community Service Essay Contest.

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