Caring About Animals Shouldn’t Hurt: How to Protect Your Soft Center

Self care tips for animal caregivers and advocated

By Paula Fitzsimmons

As animal advocates, we’re exposed to some pretty nasty stuff. Failure to properly shield ourselves emotionally may lead to problems later on, sometimes with disastrous results.

Veterinarians, for instance, experience a higher suicide rate than that of the general population, according to an article in the Journal of Veterinary Medical EducationShelter workers, vet techs, disaster workers, and anyone in regular, direct contact with distressed animals are susceptible to compassion fatigue.

Those who work tirelessly behind-the-scenes to protect animals and the planet are not immune from the hurt, either. Working on legislative bills that don’t pass, dealing with harsh critics, and having to constantly raise funds can also be brutal. And yes, volunteers are also vulnerable.

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Overcome the Barriers in the Way of Your Animal Protection Job

Panther in Forest - Overcome Barriers

By Paula Fitzsimmons

What do you believe is holding you back from finding your animal dream job – No college degree? Lack of experience? Your location? What may seem like a barrier may very well be nothing more than a minor setback, or even perhaps the prelude to an even better opportunity.

You may very well have legitimate reasons for not being able to accomplish what you want to do right now: Vet school is too competitive; family obligations are preventing you from pursuing that advanced degree; you can’t accept an internship because you’re working two jobs. Situations arise . . . I get that.

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Are Your Expectations of Animal Nonprofit Work Realistic?

Animal nonprofit office

By Paula Fitzsimmons

When you envision working for an animal nonprofit, what comes to mind? A utopian environment where colleagues incessantly exchange niceties? Kumbaya. A workplace where you don’t have to bring on your very best game? Or perhaps you think it’s a place to hang out until “real” work comes along.

If you answered yes to any of these, you’d be mistaken.

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Yes, Job Opportunities Do Await Animal-loving Baby Boomers

Animal lover jobs for baby boomers do exist

By Paula Fitzsimmons

I recently stumbled upon a quote that gave me pause. It’s by 19th century novelist, George Eliot and reads “It’s never too late to be what you might have been.” I’ve made peace with the fact that I’ll never fulfill certain childhood dreams. (Fat chance of becoming an Olympic figure skater.)

But barring physical limitations and factors outside our control, career options are pretty much limitless for those of us in our second act of life.

This applies to careers in the animal welfare world, too.

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The Best Holiday Gifts for Animal People

Holiday Polar Bear

By Paula Fitzsimmons

Not sure what to give your favorite animal lover for the holidays? This list can help with that. These ideas are suitable for every animal lover on your list – and they come in a variety of price ranges to suit most budgets. Of course, the best gift you can give is your support and encouragement . . . but the following items are sure to please just about anyone who cares deeply for animals.

There are a myriad of businesses and organizations doing good- this list represents just a tiny portion of what’s available.

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How Do You Measure Success?

Chameleon_SuccessB_edited-1

By Paula Fitzsimmons

Working 70 hours a week at a job that may pay well but sucks the life out of you. Securing the bottom line at any cost. Clawing your way to the top of the corporate ladder. Doing whatever it takes to achieve a certain level of “success” isn’t working out too well for us – and especially not for animals or the planet.

Noted scholar and environmental educator, David W. Orr summed it up perfectly when he wrote: “The planet does not need more successful people. It needs people of moral courage willing to join the fight to make the world habitable and humane. And these qualities have little to do with success as we have defined it.”

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More Than Just Words: 8 Powerhouse Quotes for People Who Care

Owl with EO Wilson quote
By Paula Fitzsimmons

Life can’t be boiled down to a sentence or two . . . it’s too complex for that. But good quotes are more than just strings of meaningless words or “kumbaya” sentiments. At least for me. They represent bigger thoughts and ideals, can propel you forward, and act as reminders of what’s important. And who can’t use a kickstart every now and then?

I chose the following quotes for you . . .the activist, the person who wants to make a difference, whether you work in the animal protection field, are seeking a job with animals, or are a volunteer activist. I hope these words and ideas speak to you as they do for me. I’ve added some commentary, and would also love to know your thoughts on these.

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Why You Need Passion to Work in This Field

Dove in caring hands

By Paula Fitzsimmons

Work for a rescue, sanctuary, or advocacy group, and you’ll need to possess certain characteristics: a solid moral compass, a strong work ethic, tenacity . . . and a good dose of passion.

Definitions vary, but in this case passion is more than just about liking, or even loving animals. Because a lot of people feel this way. Being passionate is about feeling compelled to improve animals’ lives – whether as an employee or activist – and remaining committed through the tough times.

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Stop Comparing Yourself to Other Activists – It’s a Group Effort

Colorful tree with activist quote

By Paula Fitzsimmons

This past week I was again reminded of just how harmful comparing myself to others can be, and how it often leads to feelings of inadequacy. I had been pleased with recent accomplishments, when on one of these particular days I chose to spend a few free moments browsing Facebook.

Peppered in with the regular stories of planetary abuses were welcome news pieces: Shell had halted its plans to drill in the Arctic; Eco Activists for Governance and Law Enforcement (EAGLE) activists were instrumental in busting yet another wildlife trafficker; various wildlife centers had rehabilitated and released animals to their wild homes . . .to name a few.  Among these were posts from friends and others touting their own – or their organizations’ – successes.

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Feel Powerless? There’s an Antidote for That

Flighted Blue BirdBy Paula Fitzsimmons

If your Facebook feed looks anything like mine, it’s a succession of posts bearing bad news for animals and the planet. Images of emaciated polar bears. News that we stand to lose elephants and other species in our lifetime. Systematic animal abuses. Rangers in the Democratic Republic of Congo killed while protecting wildlife . . . and on and on and on.

Ditto for email alerts, Twitter feeds, radio and television – the bad news is everywhere. These stories – especially when served in such high volume – make me feel incredibly sad, angry . . . and powerless. And that’s a terrible place to get stuck at.

I could be wrong here, but I have a feeling you can relate.

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