It was Thursday, September 9, a day that had left me feeling disappointed in humanity. No one has any patience or knows the meaning of customer service anymore. From the jackass who was popping wheelies on his motorcycle while driving behind me in the middle of downtown, to the rude counter person where I buy lunch several times a week, I was feeling defeated by the day and no longer interested in being at work.
Looming thoughts of our missing cat were weighing on my mind. I felt like cruising the internet in search of suggestions on how to find him, or perusing Craigslist in hopes that someone would post “Found: male, grey cat!” I landed on the Santa Barbara Humane Society website and came across its Lost and Found services. The page offered many recommendations and resources, and per their advice, I thought I need to drive to the Humane Society and see for myself if he was there. I immediately left work, knowing that they closed at 5 p.m.
I arrived at the Humane Society at 4:45 p.m. I explained to the nice gentleman behind the counter that we were missing a cat and that I was hoping I could look around and see if he was turned in. He let me know that they only take owner-relinquished pets at their facility but that I should check the Santa Barbara County Animal Services shelter around the corner. I quickly jumped into my car and drove over there. When I arrived the sign in the window said, “Sorry, were CLOSED.” Could this day get any worse?
I noticed some photos by the door and I thought I would go take a look at those, anyway. As I was walking through the parking lot, a gentleman noticed me and asked if he could help me; he was an Animal Services Officer. I explained the situation, adding, “but I see that you are closed.”
He offered to take me over to the cat building, and asked a woman who was just locking up the doors if there were any turn-ins. I was sure I was going to be asked to come back tomorrow, but instead she directed us to the employee’s door a little further down. When we got to that door, he asked another woman if there had been any turn-ins from my neighborhood. She asked me if he was small, yes, grey, yes, male, yes, fixed, YES!
Sure enough, she took me into the room and before I could get to his kennel, I could hear him meowing – he (Elmer) recognized my voice, or scent, or whatever. He went crazy when he saw me. He was pawing at my head, face, and hands he was so happy to see me and so ready to go home!
The Animal Services Officer took me back to the office so I could get Elmer released. The woman at the counter was just finishing up her daily deposit and, at first, hesitated to process another animal after closing time. But she quickly decided it wouldn’t take much time or effort. We actually had a nice conversation while she was helping me, and she too was very pleasant.
I went back to the kennel where the friendly staff helped me get Elmer a carrier to take home. I left the shelter believing again in humanity, and in the patience and kindness of people like those at the Santa Barbara Humane Society and County Animal Services.
Our little boy is back at home now, safe and sound. I can’t thank the people at the shelter enough for their compassion and willingness to look after the welfare of our pets when they can’t find their way back home. And we are eternally grateful for the person who turned him in earlier that day.