I'm so excited to finally be writing about this! I've mentioned a few times in some posts about my recent experience volunteering at a local dog and cat shelter near my home. I've only been there a few months but so far, I am absolutely loving my time there; how could you not?! Your "shifts" require you to cater and help out animals, which is easily one of my most favourite things, and the feeling you get afterwards is an extremely rewarding one. Knowing you and others are voluntarily giving up their time and love to help out these animals is something you could never get from a paycheck.
The shelter I'm at - the Etobicoke Humane Society - is an all-volunteer, no kill, rescue shelter for cats and dogs, and one I am so proud to be a part of. The animals are rescued or "surrendered" from all over and for different reasons. Naturally, there are more cats than dogs. The dogs may come from the streets or even flown in from places like Romania. Many cats are also rescue cats from the streets (feral cats) or often times, surrendered, which is a sad thing. Surrendered is when someone willingly gives up their pet because they can no longer care for them, maybe due to health reasons, allergies, or financial difficulties.
The shelter really encourages people and families not to do this but otherwise, they are more than happy to keep the animals until they find their forever home. Of course for myself, I'm part of the "Cat Team!" :)
Growing up with cats and a family who is animal crazy, always made me wanna do something more to help them out. Finding work and a career is hard enough, and I don't think I could ever work in something like a vet office where many animals come in that are sick and have to be put down. So instead, why not volunteer?
It was something I always wanted to try and I'm so glad I finally pushed myself to getting around to it. A former co-worker of mine started volunteering at the shelter about a year ago, and ever since, I'd see her Snapchats filled with playful dogs and cats and captions reading, "This little guy is so sweet and looking for a forever home!" I was so intrigued that I kept the idea at the back of mind and promised myself that one day when my work was a little more steady, I'd put in application.
I finally did in October, got a reply back a week later, and one interview, an orientation, a shadow shift, and a tetanus shot later (a requirement before you start volunteering), I was in!
I go in a few nights a week (sometimes more if I can!) and you and a couple other volunteers take turns feeding the cats, changing their water, cleaning out their litter, sweeping up their cages, and of course, playing and showing some love (the best part!)
Many of the cats are very friendly and outgoing, but just like people, you get the ones that are very shy and even quite scared in the presence of people, especially if they were street cats. It's our job as volunteers to make them feel comfortable and slowly bring them out of their shell. It's such a great feeling when you see a cat who was once terrified and hiding at the back of their cage gradually warming up to people.
Others though, may have a difficult time adjusting to shelter life, and some even show signs of aggression over time if they're simply "tired" of being in a cage (just to note: all the cats have "out" time, where they get to walk, run, climb, and roam around the shelter for 30-60 minutes a day. And you'll notice the cages are quite big). As well as different types of coordinators, many volunteers are also foster parents to cats. They temporary keep the cats in their home until they are ready to return back to the shelter or are adopted. You can bet, many fosters get attached to their "visitors" and end up adopting the cats themselves :) This also allows the shelter to bring in more cats to care for. Many of them come from high-kill shelters in parts of Hamilton, Ontario or Quebec. It is the kind hearts of many volunteers who are willing to drive to and from these places in order to rescue these beautiful cats and kittens.
Nugget is one awesome little guy who has been at the shelter for a bit now, and they're really promoting him to help him find his forever home! He's really sweet and got so much energy and a big personality, it's hard to believe he hasn't been picked up yet: but he will!
Playing around in the kitten rooms (there's 2):
I'm so thankful to be a part of an amazing team of people who are all there because they want to help animals. It's always such a great thing when you hear a cat got adopted (you can bet it's so bitter-sweet for us!) and we love getting the e-mail updates of a cat(s) who went to their forever home.