After almost five years with shelter, Pratt 'moving on'
Four and a half years ago Karla Pratt moved to Moose Jaw and took a volunteer position as a kennel attendant with the Moose Jaw Humane Society.
© Submitted photo
Karla Pratt, pictured with Muppet — whom she adopted from the Humane Society — is moving on from the shelter after almost five years. Her final day is Aug. 23.
For Pratt, the MJHS was a logical next step in her desire to get involved in the animal welfare field.
“Before we moved to Moose Jaw, we lived in a small town called Swan River in Manitoba,” she told the Times-Herald Wednesday. “It was a town of about 3,500 people and we didn’t have a physical shelter in our community, but we did have an animal welfare group. We raised funds to help subsidize spaying and neutering, and we did some foster care, but it was very minimal. I was involved in that for about 12 years, and I was always interested in the field.”
When the decision was made to relocate to Moose Jaw, Pratt explained, she began to research the MJHS and liked what she saw. After arriving in the Friendly City, a position opened up at the shelter and she was hired on.
Now, almost five years later, Pratt is departing the MJHS as its communications and outreach co-ordinator. Her last day will be Aug. 23.
Pratt said that she loved her job, but even when she started, there were difficulties.
“When I started, (the Humane Society) was in a bit of a transitional phase. Our current director, Kristyn McEwen, had come in by that point and started to make changes, but we still had days where we had to make choices about which animals to euthanize,” she said.
At the time, the MJHS had not finished transitioning into its current model as a no-kill shelter that only euthanizes in cases of extreme aggression, illness, or injury.
“I had prepared myself for that reality. I didn’t come in wearing rose-coloured glasses, and I knew that is the way it had to be in shelters. You can’t save everyone,” she said.
“I think that was the hardest part of the job, at first.”
Other issues had to do with the shelter — the physical building — itself. Many of those issues are still present today, including the doors that don’t shut properly, windows that don’t open, and leaky hoses.
I didn’t come in wearing rose-coloured glasses, and I knew that is the way it had to be in shelters. You can’t save everyone. Karla Pratt
They’re necessary sacrifices, Pratt said, because the shelter prioritizes the wellbeing of the animals.
“That’s one thing I love about the MJHS — how they go above and beyond here to make pets feel comfortable,” she added.
Pratt has also gone above and beyond, offering her home as a foster facility for several pets. She has even adopted four of the shelter animals: a dog, Muppet, and three cats.
She has also served, for a while, as acting co-director while McEwen was on maternity leave.
It was after McEwen’s return that Pratt sought to scale down her involvement with the shelter so she could spend more time with her family.
“I needed to refocus on my family, so something I decided to do this spring was step back my role here,” she said. “I could relax a bit, which made a huge difference. ... It was refreshing for me, but also helped me re-evaluate what I was looking for, for my family and myself.”
It was during her reassessment that Pratt decided it was time to move on.
“Sometimes with the combination of working in animal welfare and just the daily stress of working a job period, I’m looking in the face of burnout,” she said. “I want to move on before it gets to the point where I stop caring, and I think I need to do that at this point, while I’m still very passionate about the animals and the job we do here.”
Pratt remains supportive of the MJHS.
“It’s an integral part of our community with the services it provides the abandoned, lost and neglected animals here in Moose Jaw. It is something I’m still very passionate about,” she said. “I will always support the Humane Society.”