In 1997, I was studying Technicature in Cultures and Aboriginal languages and taking a course at the Faculty of Biology in Córdoba.
The same year, I was also volunteering at a shelter that had recently opened its doors. The name of the shelter was “Salvar” and they had several hundred dogs and cats. It was located on the outskirts of Córdoba, and so I drove there with the director of the shelter a few times a week.
The first time I arrived there it was quite shocking: dozens of dogs rushed towards me to greet me, jumped on top of me and started barking, all this at the same time. And of course, there were hundreds more in big cages.
The ownerof the shelter Salvar had several dogs in her home as well.
Among them, there was a poodle that I would have loved to adopt, but it was impossible because I always lived in an apartment and furthermore my family would have never agreed to it.
But sometimes I would temporarily bring home puppies. Once, I brought a small and ill one that—despite the care I provided it with—died the same night next to my bed.
My work consisted in preparing their meals, giving it to them, and helping with the care as much as I could.
I have always been interested in veterinary medicine. Unfortunately, needles and blood can me faint; my blood pressure goes down and I lost control. Therefore, I have never seriously brought up the possibility of pursuing a career in that field.
However, I wanted to take care of animals, in every way possible and that is why I participated when it was time to give them their medication and do other things. One time, I gave an injection to a dog that had scabies to cure it. It worked quickly, I didn’t enjoy the experiment and neither did the dog, but the medicine did its job.
What hit me the most from my experience in the shelter was all the love and trust the dogs showed to people. Despite what they had gone through, these rescues never tried to bite me even when I was disinfecting their wounds or getting maggots out their wounds with a pair of tongs.
Yes, they were in pain during the process and they even let out some groans but without any aggressiveness. Even from Dobermans and other big breeds.
The volunteers working at the shelter, and at all the other ones I worked at myself or visited, deserve the utmost respect. They do a work without any form of compensation except for knowing that they helped animals and they could spend time with them. I started volunteering at 16 years old until 22 years later, sometimes dedicating a lot of time, sometimes a few days a year.
For all the love animals have given me and for all they have taught me, I promise to always continue to be a volunteer… any opportunity I can have.
Author: Helena Arroyo
Translation: Noëlla Moussa