A small, personal sacrifice

Published 10:33 pm Friday, July 16, 2010

Anyone who has ever suffered from animal allergies knows just how frustrating and debilitating they can be. Constant sneezing, itching, watery eyes and overfull sinuses are just the most obvious of symptoms. What is clear only to the sufferer is just how physically and mentally draining it can be to suffer from those symptoms, without relief, every single day.

Debie Jefts knows all about it. Her cat allergies are something she deals with every day. At work. In the Suffolk Animal Shelter.

Now, it’s not entirely surprising in the midst of a grinding recession to find people willing to shoulder heavy burdens in the name of getting a regular paycheck. Some folks work outside in miserable heat; some folks work around odors that would make most people gag; and many slog away for hours with little pay, only to find that their work is hardly appreciated by the people who benefit from it.

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For Jefts, however, the willingness to make a personal sacrifice stems from something else — a love of animals. And that’s just the type of person Suffolk needs to have running the animal shelter.

It’s clearly a tough job, perhaps especially for someone with such a connection to the animals that are brought there. After all, many of those animals never leave the building alive. They are never adopted and finally must be euthanized. Such a responsibility would be too much for some animal lovers. But Jefts has been able to do her duty, while at the same time working hard to take steps to reduce the number of animals that ultimately meet the grim fate.

Whether by bringing in a couch from home so that adopters can be more comfortable getting to know their potential new family members or by encouraging a variety of special adoption events outside of the shelter’s walls, Jefts has made it clear that her goal is to run a shelter where there eventually is no reason for euthanasia.

Suffolk is fortunate to have caring, professional people serving the public in most of its positions. It’s especially heartening, however, to know that such a person is in charge at a place where it is so fittingly important.