Animal rescuers, shelter workers, veterinary clinic workers, foster parents and pet lovers share a particular kind of burn-out – compassion fatigue.
This was the topic for a “meet and greet” meeting at a recent get-together hosted by Paws-Itive Partners. The gathering provided a place to get acquainted and to share ideas and needs.
Terri Feldman, co-owner of “New Beginnings” in North Platte and Molly Hoffman of Lincoln were guest speakers.
“We sometimes feel we haven’t done enough (to help the animals),” Feldman said. “It’s important to learn how to give to your heart’s content without giving yourself away.”
It’s important to reach out to one another for support, Feldman said. Often spouses may not understand or know how to offer the support needed.
Feldman offered some suggestions for when compassion fatigue sets in:
1. Discipline yourself to say “no.”
2. Keep a positive journal, focusing on the small, positive things accomplished.
3. Know how much you can realistically do.
4. Make time to play, eat right and get enough sleep.
Hoffman is formerly of North Platte and is now a science teacher in Lincoln. She is a foster for the Nebraska Border Collie Rescue, a trainer for Domestic Pups and a former educator for the Nebraska Humane Society.
Hoffman is also a member of the Lincoln Animal Ambassadors, and one of their projects is a food bank for animals, with food donated by several Lincoln stores.
“We served over 800 families (last year) in Lincoln using about 2,500 pounds of food a month,” Hoffman said.
Hoffman suggested recruiting college students as volunteers.
“Students can offer to help you with projects, and at the end, you can give them a letter of recommendation,” Hoffman said.
Hoffman said a big step forward has been made in saving animals.
“Forty million animals used to be euthanized each year. Now it’s 5-10 million.
“That’s still not acceptable,” Hoffman said, “but it’s a big step forward.”