This week’s community hero works every day to help dogs be mentally and physically fitter so they can find new homes. It’s no easy task, but for his colleagues and the countless dogs he’s helped save, his efforts are invaluable.
Sammy Neal took a job at the Johnson City Washington County Animal Shelter when his construction job failed. It was six years ago.
“I love animals,” he said. “I give everything every day to the animals I work with.”
When Neal walks to work, his job takes him past the kennels where hopeful dogs wait to charm visitors, into a low-traffic area: the isolation area where dogs are held when they arrive at the shelter. .
“Since working in isolation, I see all the new dogs coming in. I get to spend some time with them,” Neal said. “I play with them and everything, and hope to get them out of where they are, like scared and nervous and everything. And maybe I can work with them a bit to get them out of there so they can be moved downstairs and people can adopt them.
This is the isolation area where Neal sees dogs at their worst.
“You see a lot of aggression, you see a lot of shyness, a lot of shyness, and maybe a lot of injured dogs, and maybe totally scared dogs,” he explained. “They won’t even barely move. They’ll just stick around and moan. It breaks your heart just to go there and watch it.
Some of them are so sick that Neal doesn’t know if they’ll make it.
“We have broken, broken animals, very sick animals coming in. Some of them are on the verge of death, so I can go back and spend some time with them before they actually die,” did he declare.
That grief is balanced with joy when Neal says these dogs are starting to feel comfortable, having a good meal, and having positive human interaction.
“Get to know them and spend some time with them,” he said of some breeds that can be considered vicious. “It will change a lot once you get to know the dog instead of judging it by what people say and stuff.”
And when it’s time to send a dog home with his new family, Neal says it’s bittersweet, but it allows him to help the next dog. And there is always a next dog.
“It’s a lot of joy, and sometimes I get chills knowing that this dog has a home now, and it gives us some space to bring in a new one, and hopefully we can get him adopted. “, Neal said.