February 15, 2020
Many people who work in a field where they experience or perceive failure or very sparse success begin to feel a trauma syndrome which can alter the way they proceed in their work as time goes on. This is sometimes referred to as “Compassion Fatigue,” and is prevalent in fields where workers care for: chronically ill people, those who constantly face social ills, groups of people who are in difficulty following disasters and tragedies, and victims of all kind. This syndrome also affects law enforcement, teachers, veterinarians, nurses, child welfare personnel, paramedics, firefighters, social workers and animal welfare workers!
People who experience compassion fatigue can exhibit several symptoms, including feelings of hopelessness, less pleasurable experiences in life, constant stress and anxiety, sleeplessness and an increasingly negative attitude. Having a negative attitude is detrimental to these workers’ productivity, and usually results in feelings of incompetency and self-doubt. They sometimes are perceived to be grumpy and uncaring. The truth is, people like this care too much.
In animal rescue, the “cost of caring” leads to extreme frustration, due to many factors. Animals who are un-spayed and un-neutered are causing overpopulation and thus homelessness, people who do adopt with a willing heart and the patience to persevere through an adopted animal’s possible problems, are few and far between. Many pets are returned because they were adopted for all the wrong reasons. If your knowledge of pet ownership is limited, get help to do it right. We at Have-a-Heart are here to assist in any way we can. Know the breed type you’re looking for and do your homework. We are so sad to see a pet returned for any reason that could have been avoided with a bit more patience and time. Think what these animals have been through, be realistic of what they need from you, as well as what you need from them.
Those of us in pet rescue seem to run up against disappointments all the time: money is hard to come by, grants are drying up, spay and neuter clinics are fewer than before, and people are disappointed in us for not being a “shelter” and taking in every stray that comes our way. Some days we cry a lot and some days we feel like the good we thought we did is null and void. It can feel never-ending, but because of you donors and volunteers, we can keep on going. Join us in our efforts- we would love to have you as volunteers and foster families. When we are all pulling together, we can all avoid compassion fatigue or other syndromes that can cause negativity. We can do this! You can learn more about Have-a-Heart at http://www.haveahearthumanesociety.org.