HomeArticles of Elisa Black-TaylorShelter Workers, PTSD, and Compassion Fatigue


Shelter Workers, PTSD, and Compassion Fatigue — 5 Comments

  1. Pingback:The higher an animal shelter’s live release rate the higher the rates of burnout in shelter staff? – PoC

  2. I am the founder/director of a non-profit organization and suffer from anxiety and panic attacks. It took a long time to realize that I can’t save them all and struggle daily when I have to turn away so many animals. I have witnessed the worst of the worst and tell myself that I must walk away from this or it’s going to kill me. I know that sounds drastic, but there really are times that I am afraid that the day to day stress may just do me in. But I go on and continue to save as many as we reasonably can and know that we have made a difference for so many animals. But in addition to pulling the dogs from shelters, finding foster homes for them to go safely into, getting any vetting and medical needs addressed, we must then deal with potential adopters and literally work 7 days a week. We process applications and do our due diligence by checking vet references, doing home checks, etc., and pray that we have made the best decision and placed the dogs in the right homes. Sometimes it doesn’t work out and sometimes we have to turn people down. I have been called names, cussed at, and verbally abused more times that I can count. But yet I go on. I just hope one day I can get back to a “normal” life and that someone will fill my shoes and help the animals. Better yet, it would be nice if we in rescue were not needed and everyone got their pets spayed and neutered. But yes, burned out, ptsd, feeling defeated at times and wanting to give up are very real.

    • Louise, thank you for your very honest and informative comment. It is people like you, people with a genuinely good heart who wish to help who mop up the damage done by the irresponsible people, the careless people, the people who don’t care about animal welfare and worse. It is the good people, the decent people who have to mop up the mess and care for animals who have been neglected and abused by the bad people.

      Then the good people become stressed because they try and do the impossible almost. It is impossible to rectify all the wrongs done by the bad people with respect animal welfare. You are right. You have to limit what you can do for the sake of your own health. It is hard for you because your heart tells you to help and there is no limit to that desire but then the brain has to step in and say enough is enough, there must be a limit. Well done. Look after yourself and take care.

  3. I just wanted to thank you for your article. I work at an animal shelter and as part of my daily duties I must euthanize those that are marked to go for the day. I’ve had many sleepless nights over this and have gone home in tears on several occasions. I’ve broken down many times while performing this task an have even gone home and put a gun to my head contemplating ending everything. I was unable to go through with due to the fact that I feel it’s my duty to care for these loving animals no matter the cost to my own mental health. As far as how I deal with it well you really can’t without some form of medication. at least I can’t. But no one really knows what we go through. I’ve been called a murderer by people of the public and after so many times hearing that you start to believe it. I don’t know what the future will hold for me or the state of my mental health, all I know is I can’t stop doing my job because fit the pets I do save, it means the world.

    • Thanks, Eric, for sharing. Although, your comment is haunting and distressing. I wish you the best. I not sure you should stay working there. Your own health is the first priority.

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