Shelter inadequate for homeless pets

T.J. Gerlach

T.J. Gerlach

Like all honor students at Missouri Southern, I am required to take Service Learning. In this class, students perform 24 hours of volunteer work for an organization in the community.

For the class, I chose to volunteer at the Joplin Humane Society.

Honestly, I was inspired to volunteer there after becoming a fan of Animal Planet’s “Animal Cops” (For those who are unfamiliar with the show, it follows officers from the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals or the Humane Society of one of four major metropolitan areas.) I was curious to see if the Joplin Humane Society operated in a similar fashion to these big-city forces.

I also chose the Humane Society because I like working with animals, but I am not a science type so veterinary medicine was out of the question.

I was not really sure what to expect when I walked in the first day. I was eagerly greeted by a lively, young lady behind the desk, and after filling out a short volunteer form, I was shown around the building and told how to do pretty much everything I would do. The person who gave me the tour also made sure I knew the shelter is a “kill shelter.” While this can be tough to deal with, in some cases you realize it is the best option.

Seeing the animals locked up in the cages can be disheartening, but the staff of the Humane Society is truly dedicated to helping the animals. Most of the employees own multiple pets, and some even foster animals that would not recover at the shelter. They hate to put animals down and try everything possible to keep it from happening.

Volunteering there is sometimes hard to deal with, especially looking at the faces of some of the animals, but I am sure actually working there must be even more trying. I can only hope all the animals I remember seeing one week but not the next were able to find good homes. I have made it my own policy not to ask about some of them since the answer may not be the easiest to bear.

The shelter itself is old and out-dated. The Humane Society has plans finalized with the city to build a new shelter. Unfortunately, the new facility will require funding the shelter just does not have. This is a shame, considering what the Society does for several four-state communities.

I would encourage everyone to help however possible, whether by donations or volunteering your own time. To find out more, call the shelter at 623-3642, or go to its Web site at

Also, spay or neuter your pet to make these people’s lives a little easier.