Compassion comes naturally to most of us although sometimes we ignore or fail to act on it. Our choices in life are critical to society – in how we treat each other and how we take care of our world. I chose the field of animal welfare or should I say that it chose me through a series of life events. After graduating from college with a degree in environmental science I envisioned saving the world beginning with our national forests. I started work for the US Forest Service as a hydrologic technician and happily hiked the woods doing environmental impact studies. After only a few years, federal funding was cut and I found myself unemployed. I eventually was hired by a city parks department and assigned to work at the local zoo. I had a lifelong love of animals so at the first opportunity I applied for a zookeeper position, was hired and then trained on the job. Five years later, I moved and found a position managing a cat sanctuary housing over 400 displaced cats. Then a year later, I moved again and was hired as an animal control officer. Eventually, I was promoted to executive director of that organization which I led for over twenty years. I recently retired after over thirty-five years in the animal welfare field.
Life led me to animal welfare which ended up being a good fit. I love people, animals and wanted to make a difference in the world. The public safety portion of the work was to protect people from vicious animal attacks but the most difficult part was protecting animals from people.
Public service careers like animal welfare, social services and law enforcement that involve helping others are not for everyone. They require a huge amount of compassion, patience and a positive outlook. Compassion for animals was the easy part for me as they cannot speak for themselves and deserve a life free of cruelty. The hard part was dealing with suspected animal abusers. Although, it was often difficult I treated them with professionalism and yes, a certain sense of compassion. My job was to investigate the crime but not necessarily to judge and to always educate while championing for change.
Showing compassion in difficult circumstances is challenging- yet essential to our society. We often forget to be compassionate and understanding of others. As humans we tend to be too judgmental and jump to conclusions without really considering the facts. We must show compassion in our dealings with others in both our personal and professional lives. It is critical to our society that we care – not only about our environment and the animals but also for the people we interact with every day.
As women, we must be compassionate – support each other and lift each other up. Positivity and compassion are essential keys to all relationships, to a wonderful world and to a happy life!