Volunteers spend their time with dogs in their final moments, creating lasting memories
Every night one of nine people shows up at the Animal Care and Control center in New York to spend the night, and create a lasting memory for a dog who will be euthanized the following morning. Whether it is a long walk, a special treat, or just time spent cuddling, members of the Compassion Program make it their priority to ensure the dog is happy and loved on his final night.
The Compassion Program, which started four years ago, focuses its efforts on animals that need extra support and love–animals that will be euthanized. It is primarily run out of New York’s ACC Manhattan shelter, with the hope of expanding throughout the state.
Members accept donations, host drives, and hold events to raise money to purchase special treats and toys to give to the dogs on their final night. “It’s about providing last minute tender love and care,” said volunteer Yolanda Crous.
The program was started when a combination of staff and volunteers came together in an effort to make sure dogs are given the same care as humans in their final days. It isn’t a job for the weak of heart, as each night the volunteers are given a list of dogs that will be euthanized the following morning. A kinship is born immediately, but at the same time the volunteer knows the next day the animal won’t be there.
“It’s one of those things where I don’t think I would have ever expected myself to do,” Crous admits. “But once you see the need, you can’t walk away.
The overpopulation of pets is a problem throughout the United States, and in New York there just isn’t enough room for all of the dogs in need. Crous said dozens of dogs enter the shelter everyday and its the goal of the Compassion Program to make sure the dogs are loved as much at the beginning of their lives as they are at the end.
“I feel like I am making a difference every moment I spend with the dogs,” she said. “And one of the best parts is the dogs give back just as much compassion as we give them. It is just amazing.”