Pulling into the parking lot we see a large gray building. There are double doors to what appears to be a warehouse and they are wide open. Walking in the building brings sounds of barking that can deafen your ears. There are dogs. Not just one or two guarding the place. This place has 40 dogs all locked up in four by four foot kennel cages. This is the Oak Ridge Animal Shelter.
I’ve been bringing my daughter and her friends here for over a year now. I thought it would be good for my Katie to do some real work and not just sit around the house. She enjoys bringing her buddies and of course they always want to bring home a furry friend.
Katie makes sure all the dogs that can, get a walk in. Some dogs can’t get walked and there is a notice up if the dog is dangerous. There are signs on all the kennels that are just flipped over to show the dog has been walked. Some of the big dogs can be a little more challenging for the girls. They are all 8-11 years old and even some little dogs are strong for them. The dogs get walked around the yard and if the dog has a lot of character, or a cuteness factor, the girls bring the dog to a small fenced area to play with. After the dogs are walked, the girls make sure all the dogs get a small treat.
Then it is off to the cat rooms. There are two of them. If you weren’t familiar with the building, you wouldn’t even see the second room. It’s more like a large closet. Some of the cats in these rooms are strays and can be feisty. They give a warning with a low growl or hissing noise. Other cats you can tell were removed from previous owners for abuse. It is not always a pleasant experience. The girls have learned all the cats need love and they try to hold or play with them as much as they can. Sometimes it is a real treat for the girls to see kittens. If the kittens are too young, the shelter locks the cage so the mother cat can tend to the babies. I was shocked the other day when I saw about 50 kittens being kept. It was like an explosion.
The staff is part of the Oak Ridge Police Department. They are all great with the animals and they are used to Katie and her friends helping out. Other volunteers do work to care for the animals too.
Going to the animal shelter is an educational experience. It is a place that will bring a lifetime of memories to my daughter.