An empty shelter, filled with light.

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Tonight I attended the Luminary Ceremony celebrating a successful Operation Silent Night. Richmond Animal League started Operation Silent Night 8 years ago, and every year around this time they clear the shelter – that means every dog and cat has a home whether foster or adoptive.

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The shelter is empty (and so clean!), so they fill the kennels and line the halls with luminaries – paper and keepsake – to honor or remember pets and people who mean a lot to us.

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This year I purchased a keepsake luminary in memory of my terminally ill foster pet, Squash, who passed away in September. While I only got to know him for a few weeks, I’ll always remember him. He was such a sweet kitty who deserved a longer life. I’ll always keep this luminary in our home to remember him.

The ceremony was so beautiful. The executive director welcomed us, then a pastor from a local church lead us in prayer and read a few comments (including my own) about the pets and people honored by our luminaries. We sang Silent Night with a young musician on guitar. Then the pastor lead us in a moment of silence. After that, the president of the board spoke about the amazing work RAL has accomplished in 2018 – almost 2,000 pets adopted and over 6,000 pets spayed or neutered at the clinic!

Thankfully I had brought a fresh pack of tissues (and shared with those around me), because it was so moving to hear all of the comments, all of the hard work done, and the hope we have for the future. I’ll definitely go back each year, we all need a good cry once in a while, right?

In a few days the shelter will be full again (after some much needed renovations!), and the whole RAL community will continue the hard work of rescuing and rehoming pets in need.

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