Washing Machine Incident

I recently came across an article about an animal shelter in my area purchasing an industrial washing machine to handle the needs of their shelter’s load of bedding for their animals.  Their volunteers were delighted.

This wasn’t the case in Roanoke, in which a local rescue organization was providing volunteers to our shelter and were told to complain about everything.  I suspect that they wanted the municipal contract to take over the sheltering operation.  So a lot of the complaints from our volunteers just didn’t make sense.  The biggest example was when we decided to start adopting animals directly from our shelter; the volunteers all walked out.

But, back to the washing machine.  We were attempting to use household washing machines and were constantly wearing out the machines and we had to continuely replace them.  It became clear to us that normal household washing machines could not stand up to the load of being used in an animal shelter.  I convinced our Board to allow us to buy an industrial washing machine and dryer.  The machines would allow us to run larger loads, less frequently.  It was a smart decision.

When the volunteers heard about us spending $20k on the machines, they went nuts.  They thought that any funds used in the shelter should go directly towards the animals.  There was no convincing them that the animal’s lives were improved by sleeping on clean bedding.  There was no convincing them of the fact that the industrial washing machines would save money by not having to be constantly replaced.

Roanoke is a reminder that in our business, every decision that you make in this profession is going to be second guessed.  Every action by your volunteers might be part of another agenda.  And that agenda might not be in the interest of your organization or of the animals.  Stay alert.