August 19, 2009, we stumbled upon a 10-gallon fish tank with 16 adult gerbils in poor health...and now, we have the honor of running a non-profit, family and volunteer run shelter that houses over 200 small animals. We are working on expanding our animal therapy program with local nursing homes and adult daycares, and our education program for proper small animal care in our local schools and at community events.
We all know that most first pets are of the pocket variety; gerbils, hamsters, guinea pigs, etc. We have also come to discover the HUGE link that that very first pet love has to the way we love in other areas. First pets are often the first stepping stones we give our children to teach 'responsibility' . Now while that seems great in theory, the truth is that they will forget to feed their pets, or change the water and/or bedding. They will go days without really paying their pet mind because of sports, parties, and other such activities. We agree that children are children and the above WILL happen. The question is --what will you as the child's parent/guardian do? While we can use first pets to teach responsibility, if we choose to 'get rid' of that very same pet because the cage wasn't cleaned, or the water not changed or the food not given, we are teaching our children not only to give up when the going gets tough, but we are setting them on a path toward unfulfilled obligations. I have yet to meet an adult who doesn't remember their first pet. This is a chance to make a lasting impression on our children. An experience they will be able to reflect on the rest of their lives. We wish that reflection to be of commitment and love!
Our goal is to teach compassion through small animals, which in turn can help children to be more compassionate toward others as adults. We love bringing smiles to those in adult day care facilities and nursing homes who are not able to have a pet. The smile we get to experience when we place a bunny on the lap of one who is depressed or sad is life-changing! We want the stories of the abandoned, neglected, and abused animals here, to touch the hearts of our supporters. That way, when they see the weak become strong and the sick become healthy, they will know they helped make it happen. Giving our community something positive to pay forward is what our future relies on.