Every once in a while, it doesn’t pay to listen to conversations going on outside my office door. I heard a very detailed discussion the other day about various colors and fluids, and poked my head out of the door to see what was going on.

Curiosity, on more than one occasion, has done me in.

This was no exception.

Warning: if you’re eating, you may want to put down the fork. I came to discover that the topic was dog poop. Yep. Our Animal Care Technicians were reporting (in great detail) what they had found in one of the dog kennels.

In that moment, in the hallway, I thought, “You brought this on yourself,” and as politely as I could, got out of the conversation before it got any more graphic. But time has a way of making me re-evaluate my knee-jerk reactions.

No, I don’t want to hear about the oddities found in litter boxes and dog kennels, and it’s still somewhat shocking to me that I’m writing about it now. But, see, the thing is when I realized where all this is actually coming from, I had to stop and admire the people we have at CVAS.

I know, in my heart of hearts, that every person in this building cares about animals. Our employees and volunteers help the four-legged souls in our kennels because they have an affinity for those eyes and the joy pets can bring to humans.

I tell people this all the time and we talk about it all the time, but believe it or not, the dog poop story is a direct, living-proof example of that caring. Our Animal Care Technicians want to make sure that the babies in our kennels are as healthy and well as they can be when they get adopted, and in order to do that, they know sometimes they’re going to have to get graphic.

The funny thing about our pets is they can’t speak to us in our language. A dog or a cat can’t say out loud, “Man, my stomach feels funny,” or “My back leg is really hurting.”

Because of that, it’s up to us to notice things that seem off and act accordingly.

In the environment of an animal shelter, we need to tell the people who dispense the medications what we witness (and the more detailed we can be, the better chance we have of getting rid of a malady).

Sometimes we discover illnesses in rather gross ways, but if it will help a dog or a cat, our Animal Care Technicians are going to mention it.

Our staff really gets to know the animals in our kennels. They clean, medicate, walk and cuddle them pretty much every day. They are able to discover personalities and preferences, and what kind of food would be best for each animal.

Working at CVAS really is a labor of love.

Thanks to our supporters, we’ve been able to purchase machines that really help narrow down what’s going on with an animal’s blood, and we can even clean their teeth if they need it.

I’m very proud to say that we do the best we can to make sure the dogs, cats and rabbits in our care are as healthy as they can be when they find their forever homes, and it takes a lot of people working together to make that happen.

Animal sheltering can be a tough job. It’s hard to fall in love with a pet only to have to say goodbye when he or she gets adopted.

I’ve witnessed our Animal Care Technicians taking the time to snuggle with the four-legged babies in our care, and it does my heart good to see that love bestowed on an animal looking for a second chance.

It’s that same love that leads to the graphic conversation I bumbled into recently. Sometimes even getting down and dirty with the gross stuff can be the best for an animal, and you better believe at CVAS, we’re not afraid to do just that.


Jennifer Vanderau is the Director of Communications for the Cumberland Valley Animal Shelter and can be reached at: cvascomm@cvas-pets.org. The shelter accepts both monetary and pet supply donations. For more information, call the shelter at: (717) 263-5791, or visit the website: www.cvas-pets.org. CVAS also operates a thrift store in Chambersburg. Help support the animals at the shelter by donating to or shopping at the store.

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