Lauren is the on-site caretaker for the animals at our Simpsonville shelter. We asked her to share her story about how she came to be a part of our team and what it’s like to take care of so many animals each day. Thank you, Lauren, for sharing your journey!
Three and a half years ago, I came across a job posting for the position of animal caretaker at CCA. Having graduated from Clemson in 2012 with a degree in wildlife biology, I’d been searching for a job in the field for the past several years, only to discover that the vast majority of the positions I was suited for were seasonal in nature. While I enjoyed the temporary work I found in the interim at various sanctuaries, I was ready for something more stable and long-term when I noticed CCA’s advertisement. I have always had a passion for helping animals—both wild and domestic—and thought the job would be a good fit for me. Thankfully, the board agreed!
In the time that I’ve worked for CCA, I have learned that shelter workers often encounter the very best and worst of humanity. One of the most difficult things for me is witnessing firsthand the effects of neglect and abuse—animals that cower in the corner, snarling and snapping in fear or dying a slow death from an infestation of heartworms which we may or may not have caught in time. But of course, the flip side—the thing that makes me feel like I’m really making a difference in the world—is watching these animals, who often come in sick and terrified, heal physically and emotionally from their past and go on to bring great joy to the families that adopt them. I love getting updates on our “alumni” and seeing them periodically at events like “Bark in the Park.” There are few things in life more rewarding for me than knowing that I played an integral part in an animal’s happily ever after.
Of course, the greatest privilege is actually getting to BE at least one former resident’s happily ever after. While I consider all of the dogs and cats who come through CCA my “fur-children”—especially the ones I’ve helped deliver and/or bottlefeed—I generally try not to get TOO attached to any particular individual, knowing that most of them will only be with us for a short time before going to a new home. Sometimes, though, we don’t choose the animals who will become a part of our family; they choose US, and about a year into my job at CCA, that happened to me. Though I hadn’t planned on adding a dog to my family at the time, Rufio—the feisty little pit mix puppy who was determined to make me work for his affection—eventually won me over.
I never thought the frightened, sickly little pup who would barely let me touch him in the beginning would become my best friend and snuggle buddy, but two years later, I can say with confidence that welcoming him into my home was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made, and I feel incredibly blessed to be his “forever mom.”
Working with CCA has been an amazing journey for me so far. Though we’re a small organization, we have a tight-knit group of volunteers and staff with big hearts for animals of all ages, sizes, breeds, and backgrounds that come through our doors, and I hope to be able to help continue this mission as a part of the team for several years to come.