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When I arrived at the Marion County Animal Shelter Monday morning, I was surprised to find a freshly cut Christmas tree, with all the trimmings, had been placed in our lobby. We had put up a fake tree a couple of weeks ago but this one was different, it was a real tree and all of the ornaments were hand made with material that you can find out in the woods. Red berries were strung up and placed on the tree along with other nuts, berries, pinecones and on top of the tree was a crystal stone that had been roughly cut to resemble the Star of Bethlehem. Under the tree there were presents that were wrapped in empty cat and dog food sacks. After looking at them I noticed that they were addressed to the staff here at our shelter plus there were presents for our volunteers.
I'm feeling totally confused by now because I know that when we left out of here Sunday that tree was not in there. It's been a few years since Santa has done anything like this for me and I don't think that this is the work of any of our great people friends of the shelter because everything was nature made. Then I found a rolled up section of a dog food sack. I unrolled it and on the inside of the bag that was plain brown paper, there to my total amazement was a message written on the paper. It said "Merry Christmas and thank you for caring." What made this a true miracle was that it was spelled out using paw prints, small paws, medium paws and large paws. Sara had some paint in the back room and after looking it was discovered missing. It's hard to believe but this tree was cut and decorated by our animals, the presents were made and wrapped by our animals and the Christmas card was made and signed by our animals.
Of course this is just a fiction story and we know that animals are not able to do this but if they could, I'm sure that in their own way the animals would thank us and personally it's their thank you that means the most.
It's been a great year here at the shelter. Our adoption rate is three times the national average and now that we are sending dogs up north with the Rescue Wagon (total of 110 so far) it's only going to get better. We have been labeled as one of the best small shelters in the state and we have just been awarded a large grant based on our work here (thanks Vickie).
We are excited about the future here and what it will mean to our animals. It's a good time to be an animal that lives in Marion County because they have someone here that watches out for best interest.
It's not just the staff here but it's our volunteers and our great friends that have made this possible. Too many to personally thank but if you have had any interaction with our shelter we truly thank you. From those who have made a donation, volunteered time, walked dogs or have adopted an animal from the Marion County Animal Shelter you are all important to our cause.
We still have a lot of work to do, we still have too many unwanted animals that are born each year and we still need to educate animal owners as what is required in being a responsible animal owner but I see an improvement and reason to be optimistic.
Remember to buy your pet a small gift for they give you the gift of unconditional love on a daily basis. For all of your adoption needs come see our great selection here at the shelter. Put a little love in your life and adopt an animal from us.
In closing the staff here at the shelter, along with all of our animals, wish you a very Merry Christmas and God bless you.
Editor's note: Jeff Wooldridge is the Marion County animal control officer.