A New Year’s resolution from Pasadena Humane: celebrate accomplishments

(Left) Two-year-old Paco (A506160) is a happy, wiggly dog who loves romping in the yard, chasing the ball and getting lots of back scratches. (Right) Four-month-old Purdy (A506285) is sweet, playful and very vocal! This chatty kitten has full meowing conversations with our staff and volunteers. He can’t wait to say hello to you! (Pasadena Humane)

I began writing this weekly column in October 2021, which makes this is my second New Year with you — my loyal readers. For those of you who are new to my column, you have a little catching up to do.

My new year’s resolution is usually the same each year — lose weight.  In 2021, my goal was to lose 21 pounds.  While I didn’t hit the goal, I did manage to drop 15 pounds. So, my resolution for 2022 was to shed the other six pounds. And miraculously, I am happy to report, I lived up to my resolution!

This came as a shock even to me, because somehow over the course of this year, I came to think that my original goal in 2021 was to lose 25 pounds, meaning I needed to lose another ten this year.

Imagine my utter glee when I went back to review the resolution I made a year ago and realized that my weight today is right on the mark! (I should clarify — my weight is right on the mark for my 2022 resolution, although I could still stand to lose a few pounds).

But, my resolution this year is not going to have anything to do with weight. Realizing that I achieved my goal for 2022 — even though I thought I was falling short — has been a powerful lesson to me.

This year, my resolution is to try to celebrate accomplishments, showing others and myself more appreciation. For me, and all my colleagues at Pasadena Humane, this is critically important for our mental well-being.

We tend to be hard on ourselves and set extremely high expectations. Compassion fatigue and mental health issues are an epidemic in animal sheltering. You might be shocked to know that one of the highest rates of suicide by professions happens among veterinarians.

So, to kick off a new year of appreciation — defined as recognition of the good qualities of someone or something — please join me in celebrating just a few of the great qualities of the work we do at Pasadena Humane.

Over the past couple of years, we have grown the number of veterinarians on our team from two to five, which has been a remarkable accomplishment in the face of a national shortage in veterinary health professionals.

We’ve made a strong commitment to the specialization of shelter medicine. Now we can treat highly contagious diseases that were once thought untreatable in a shelter setting — like parvo in puppies, ringworm in cats and panleukopenia, a deadly and highly contagious virus that mainly affects kittens.

Speaking of kittens, thanks to our dedicated network of foster volunteers who bottle-feed around the clock, we’ve established a model program for saving orphaned neonatal kittens.

I also need to mention the improvements we’ve made in promoting peaceful coexistence with wildlife. We’ve started a wildlife helpline, increased community education and outreach, and completed renovations to the Sandra J. Goodspeed Wildlife Center where we are providing triage, treatment and acute care for injured and orphaned wildlife.

Providing animals with this level of advanced care in a shelter would have been unthinkable just years ago. But today, we are able to do so much more and to save more lives.

And for that, I am so appreciative of the community that supports us and the employees and volunteers who devote themselves to our mission of compassion and care.

So now that I’m off to a good start on my resolution for the new year, I wish you the best of luck in accomplishing your goals in 2023. And, please remember to celebrate when you do!

Dia DuVernet is president and CEO of Pasadena Humane.

This blog post originally appeared as a column in the Pasadena Star-News on December 31, 2022.