I think it is the first time that I have read an article questioning the conditions that humans work under at animal shelters in America. Clearly, almost all the time there is a discussion about conditions at an animal shelter is about the conditions under which animals are kept and cared for. But what about the dedicated volunteers who look after the animals?
Joyce Herring in Valparaiso, Indiana, USA wrote a short article in which she stated that she is a volunteer at the Porter County Animal Shelter. She praises her fellow staff members who she says work hard to keep the kennels clean. However, she gently criticises the staff facilities which she says are inadequate and which make it harder for the staffers to do good work.
For example, she says that there is only one double sink for all the clean-up that needs to take place at the shelter. This sink is used to hand wash all the dog and cat dishes as there is no dishwasher. It is also used to wash the litter boxes for both sick and healthy animals. That may present a problem of contagion. The same sink is also used to bathe the dogs.
I don’t know Valparaiso in the USA but it is very hot in August and there is no air conditioning at the facility. She says that when you wash your hands in hot dishwater in the sweltering August heat it is almost unbearable.
In frustration she says that the conditions under which the volunteers work at the shelter are “nearly as untenable as for the animals”.
I wonder whether other volunteers have similar experiences? It is certainly worthwhile raising this question because without the concerned volunteers, who want to help, a lot of the shelters (all of them perhaps) would not function. Job satisfaction is what brings them back.
If the facilities present a barrier to job satisfaction I would have thought that it would make sense for management to improve facilities in order to ensure that they retain staff and that the staff are as content as possible. Happy workers are good workers; that’s what the experts say. Make your workplace as enjoyable as possible to improve productivity.
How much focus by management is placed on making an animal shelter an enjoyable place to work? Obviously, it goes without saying that the amount of funding must be a major influence on the quality of the workplace. That said there may be room for improvement even within the constraints of limited funding.
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