A Paws For Pets — Thinking about becoming a volunteer at York Adopt A Pet

By Nicci Lawrence, York Adopt A Pet

In February of 2020, my husband mentioned he was thinking about volunteering at York Adopt A Pet. Being a lifelong animal lover, I told him I would like to volunteer as well. We sent in our volunteer applications and Kim got a hold of us a few days later. She asked if we could come on Saturday at noon so she could show us what needed to be done. We have been doing the Saturday noon shift ever since.

In that time, we have seen hundreds of dogs come through the adoption room and on to their forever homes. Some we only saw once before they were adopted, others were sadly there for many months. Of course we have our favorites and wish we could adopt them all, but knowing they have been adopted to forever homes and will have wonderful lives really brings smiles to our faces.

Maybe you have thought about volunteering but aren’t really sure what to expect. Here is a little run down of the typical volunteer day at the shelter. On the dog side of the shelter there are two rooms which are called Adoption and Isolation. On the cat side, there are three rooms/areas which are called Kitten, Isolation and Adoption. Separate volunteers are utilized for each side to prevent illness from spreading from new animals that come into the shelter to the entire population. The cats and dogs which are new to the shelter come into the Isolation side first where their health needs are evaluated, addressed and they are vaccinated and vetted. This also gives staff and volunteers an opportunity to see what the individual temperaments, personalities and behaviors could be for each pet. Once dogs and cats have passed their isolation period, they can be moved into their prospective rooms where potential adopters can come into the shelter and see them. For dogs, there are three shifts each day — early morning, noon and evening.

When volunteers arrive for their shift they begin by letting the dogs individually out into one of our five large grassy runs or one of the two smaller concrete pads next to the building. After that, all kennels are cleaned by mopping or spraying them with sanitizer. The dogs are brought in and the next groups are taken out. Dogs are always fed during the morning and noon shifts. Evening shift volunteers collect empty food dishes and wash them. Water buckets are refilled and the dogs are put back into their individual kennels. Each shift takes about an hour or so to complete, depending on how many animals we have at any given time and how often you stop to play and socialize with the dogs!

The cat side of the shelter is a little different. There are two shifts — morning and evening. Morning shift volunteers are responsible for changing litter boxes, sanitizing cat kennels, hanging out blankets, feeding and watering all of the cats and kittens. Evening shift volunteers top off food and water dishes as needed and clean up any messes which may have occurred during the day. Cat shifts also take about an hour to complete, again depending on how many animals we are currently housing and how often you stop to play and socialize with the cats.

Maybe, you are thinking you would love to volunteer but your work or family schedule is just too inconsistent and you can’t commit to coming on a certain day or time. Please don’t hesitate to fill out a volunteer application and reach out to Adopt A Pet as we have a variety of different cleaning and maintenance tasks that we could always use some help with. In addition, we always need people to spend time socializing and interacting with both cats and dogs.

Unfortunately, some of the pets that come into the shelter have come from very bad situations and take a lot of time and patience from volunteers, as they begin to trust humans and find the loving homes that they deserve. Volunteers are so appreciated by all of the cats and dogs here at the shelter as they wait to find their forever homes. I guarantee you will look forward to every week and it is a great way to give back to our community. I really encourage all animal lovers to consider volunteering. It is one of the best decisions you will ever make!

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