My experience at AWPA

It was 10.30 a.m. on a beautiful Saturday. “Knock knock” I tried opening the door, only to be welcomed by a non-stop “woof woof” which lasted for several minutes, until a lovely lady, Ms. Shiona, appeared and got everything settled, and the place was back to normal. I was careful not to excite the dogs again. After a quick tour of the shelter, I began to wonder how 200 doggos and 100 cats were taken care of by just 3 staff in such a small place. The rest of the day went on with just observing how Shiona and her team of volunteers doing everything possible to keep the doggos happy. Upon returning home it made me reflect on the things I saw at the shelter and I started to
think, was there anything that I could do? This was apparently my first day at the shelter and it was an unforgettable one.

After volunteering for over a year now, I can tell you from my firsthand experience it may not be the most glamorous job any person would want. It wasn’t all rainbows and butterflies here at the shelter. Wearing old clothes and sneakers while in the shelter, cleaning up all the doggo waste, washing their dirty beds, having their fur all over us, and dealing with these nip marks were some of the tough chores that I wasn’t prepared for. End of the day something was driving me to visit the shelter every week, and it’s their slobbering kisses that went all over everything. Despite all common notions of an animal shelter in general, I found this to be an amazing and a rewarding experience in my life.
Nobody would believe how much diversity was packed within this shelter. “Whitah and Kumi” the most possessive ones, “Preethipura” the happiest of all, “Jamie” the calmest, “Lyca￾Kenny” the soul enemies, “Tikiri” the naughtiest, “Shaggy” the shaky one, “Geetha” the most frightened one, and the list goes on. They all possess the same emotions that we humans share.

Every week was a different challenge for all of us because each one had a story to tell, and they wouldn’t let us go until they are all heard. Volunteers have been the pillars of the shelter without a question. From a volunteer’s point, I was given independence and autonomy in the things that we could do at the shelter. We dint limit ourselves just to cleaning and bathing the doggos, we also did paint the shelter, pruned the trees, sprayed miticide, made minor repairs in the shelter, helped with vaccinations, etc. This way we got to know about the shelter and the staff better. This place was not just a great place for the doggos, this was in fact a stress buster for youngsters like me. Although I am going to be out of town for some time and not be able to work hands-on at the shelter, I would contribute by raising money and soliciting donations on behalf of the shelter. While we as humans find it harder to find a secure place in this fast-paced world, I think this shelter is undoubtedly a safe haven for these helpless souls. I would like to thank Ms. Iromi and Ms. Shiona for giving me such a wonderful opportunity to interact with these lovely souls. I can’t wait to be back and join the shelter soon.

– Daemiel Lanron Segamanasinghe –

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