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Making Assumptions

I just read Dr. Emily Weiss’s wonderful blog entry “Why Tortoises Rock.” If you missed it, check it out. It’s a great story with a powerful message – not just for her intended audience of shelter workers but also for those of us out there raising the money to support their work.

After chronicling her experiences training giant tortoises (yes, tortoises) at a zoo, Emily wrote, “I had assumed that a tortoise would behave much differently than they actually did, so I learned to never assume – assuming can put lives at risk.” So true.

We do a fair amount of tabling for our small mobile spay/neuter clinic. Our goal is not so much to get people to alter their pets (we are always overbooked) as to broaden our donor base. We target events where people of some means congregate, and we have a compelling story to tell. Nonetheless, many days, we come home with just a few dollars in the donation jar and a list of contacts who appeared to us more like potential clients than potential donors.

But I have enough grey hair to have learned that appearances are indeed deceiving – that you never really know who’s approaching your table, wherever it may be. I was once introduced to a woman who showed up unannounced at a lunch meeting I was having with a friend of hers. After listening in on our conversation, this woman followed me into the parking lot, in the pouring rain, and handed me a check for $10,000. No kidding.

Making assumptions about dogs and cats clearly can put those animals at risk – but making assumptions about people whose support could save those animals’ lives is equally risky. I’m sure you have a story or two about a gift that came from an unexpected source. I’d love to hear them.

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