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Small Things with Great Love by Julia Day I sat in one of the play areas in the Cat room at Palo Alto Animal Services, stroking a loudly purring Siamese named Pixie on my lap. A young couple had come in looking for a kitten to adopt and I helped them choose their pick of the litter, a small black kitten named Geronimo. After they had left, the tired kitten jumped on the cat climber and promptly fell

asleep. One of my co-workers, Jeanette Washington, walked into the room with tons of white, cardboard trays of wet food to feed the younger cats. When she got to Geronimo’s cage, she asked me where he was and I motioned to the cat climber and said, “He’s taking a nap up there before he gets adopted.” Jeanette’s eyes widened in surprise. “He’s getting adopted? Oh my gosh, I need to say good-bye!” She opened the chain-link door to the play-cage and hurried to the cat-tree in the corner. “Hey there, Geronimo” she cooed

in a higher pitch, “Congrats on being adopted, sweetie! You’re gonna have a great, happy life. Now be a good boy, ok? You’re a good boy.” She kissed Geronimo’s forehead and picked him up to put him back in his cage. Jeanette Washington has that connection with every animal in the shelter. I can’t recall a single instance where she forgets the name of an animal or doesn’t recognize it unless it’s new. It is that kind of connection that makes her and Palo Alto Animal Services a great example of how to help less fortu-


animals. It is estimated there are 320,706 homeless pets across America in some 13,159 adoption shelters. (knoji.com) At the time of writing this 56 of those animals are housed in the shelter, and individuals like Jeanette find the animals on the streets or on their doorstep, take care of them during their stay, and prepare them for finding a loving home. When I met her in the staff lounge, she was dressed in her animal control outfit, consisting of a black shirt accented by her police badge tucked under khaki pants and a belt was adorned with several different badges. After the camera began rolling, my partner and I asked her about her daily routine. She laughed hard and began. Jeanette’s day begins early in the morning. As a member of the animal services division of the Palo Alto Police Department, she along with others will drive along to find stray animals on the streets and take them to the shelter. Those animals will be checked for microchips to see if they belong to anybody, then if so the owners will be contacted. If not they will be nursed to health if necessary, spayed/neutered, and put up for adoption when ready. Although this is not the only reason they will ride out. Jeanette recalls one time she

to help round up some sheep that had run out of the enclosure. “One of the lambs was so tame,” she recalled, “I was able to walk up to it and pet its forehead and pick it up because it was so small without any problems!” she laughed. With animals always in her family, she’s always had a passion for caring for them. “My first pet I recall was a black lab puppy, but it was too much for my family and we rehomed it. And when I was a teen...we had it was sort of a shitzu kind of oso oso mix. It was a nice dog. And then I got my first my very very first pitbull puppy. And this was before the whole pitbull and phenomenon, this was in the 80’s. She was a great, great dog. Very family oriented, but she was dog aggressive, undersocialized, and not house trained. I mean I was 13 and it

was my responsibility to take care of the dog, We have a pit-bull named Roscoe at the shelter that’s just like him.” She motioned to the window where the dogs were kept and I saw Roscoe in the cage at the end, head leaning onto the chain-link fence, staring out into the world with soulful eyes. In the last five years, 1,783 animals have been adopted from the shelter. (PAAS archives) However that number is matched with even more entering the shelter. I asked Jeanette why animals come to the shelter in the first place on average. “Sometimes we find them on the street,” she sighed, “but a lot of times they’ll be dropped on our doorstep so to speak. Sometimes the owners move, sometimes, there are allergic reasons, but a lot of times people just don’t have enough time to


or with enough attention they develop behavioral problems and end up here. Or they produce litters which are given away to people that don’t know how to raise them, and again end up here”

have enough time to take care of them. Caring for animals is a big responsibility, we should know!” she chuckled, “So it’s our job to not only find these animals homes, but make sure they stay there.” I knew what she was talking about. One of the higher cages in the cat room is occupied by a burly eighteen-pound tabby named Baxter. Everybody who sees him always comments on his eyes, including Jeanette. I can recall at least two times where he’s been adopted and later returned. “Yeah, Baxter is starting to look depressed, that happens to animals that stay in the shelter too long.” I then asked her what people should do to help out these animals, genuinely curious. I’ve known several people to donate money to organizations such as the ASPCA and

and Humane Society, but I’ve always felt like there’s more to do. She agrees with donating money, but that there is more to donate. “.Donate blankets, any kind of comforter or thick blankets..it’s uh going to get winter now, so we’re going to need more blankets and things like that. Cat toys, dog toys, always in the mood for that.” She also recommends volunteering. The shelter has many dogs to walk and cats to pet, and above all they just need attention so they stay away from depression. Above all however, she wants the readers to spay or neuter their pets. She motioned to the dog kennels again and pointed out the majority breed, chihuahuas. “They’re really popular right now,” she reflected “everybody wants one because they’re so cute. But if not raised prop-


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