June 25th, 2008
Submitted by EARS volunteer Shari Neal of Marion, Iowa
I began my first EARS deployment in
When the rain refused to stop in Linn and other
Two hours after I got the call I was on site. I brought only my cameras, a bandana and my EARS badge. After six days averaging 11 hours of work each, I’ve used that bandana for mopping up sweat, rubbing barn dust out of my eyes, wiping the perspiration from cold bottles of water, and cleaning my lenses. I’ve proudly worn my badge every minute, and taken more than 2,000 photographs. (A few of them are displayed on this post)
I’ve also been lucky enough to photograph the animals for identification purposes. I’ve seen the look on a person’s face when they recognize their missing animal from a photo I took. They look thrilled but in a way that is riddled with fear. They are simply too afraid to hope that after all of this time, all of the worry and tears, that they may have actually found the last missing member of their family. Sometimes it turns out to be an animal that simply looks like their animal but many times, I have witnessed a broken heart mend right before my very eyes.
I’ve also witnessed hope in the strangest places. One woman comes to the shelter every day to spend time with her dogs. She is there so much she is forging friendships with volunteers. She casually remarked yesterday that she had just taken a shower! She was elated to have had a shower as she explained in a cheerful voice, “Because I’m living in my car!” Still, there she was, with a smile from ear to ear because she was at the shelter to play with her dogs.
My full-time deployment has come to an end, but I will continue to work at the shelter several hours a day until they no longer need volunteers. I can see that the other volunteers hurt when they have to go home at the end of their deployment fee
I am trading the uneasy fee
All photos this post courtesy Shari Neal.