When did you start volunteering at PAWS?
I started volunteering at PAWS as soon as we moved here in 2011. I volunteered at an animal shelter in Maryland before we moved here, walking dogs and showing cats to the public, and I loved it. I wouldn’t have moved to a place that didn’t have an animal shelter where I could volunteer!
What jobs/roles have you performed at PAWS and what do you currently do as a volunteer?
I was an Adoption Counselor a few years ago. Now I’m a Floor Volunteer, helping prospective adopters find a cat that’s right for them. Sometimes they have specific requirements: a playful cat or a lap cat, or a cat that “looks just like the cat I had when I was a child.” Often, I can identify a cat that fits their description, but it’s rewarding when I introduce them to a cat they hadn’t considered, and they end up adopting the cat, especially if the cat has been waiting for a home for a long time.
I also write the bios and take photos for the Cats Available page on the PAWS website. I spend time with the cats and talk to fosters so that I can describe each cat’s personality and behaviors. I want the bios to be honest, while putting the cat in a positive light. “Adventurous and inquisitive” instead of “You’re likely to find him on top of your furniture looking for cat treats and knocking family heirlooms to the floor.” Sometimes I compose limericks about the cats, which is fun. I love when someone walks into the cat wing and asks to meet a cat they’ve read about, especially if they apply for the cat. As for taking the photos – it was a great excuse for buying a cellphone with a better camera!
Why do you volunteer at PAWS?
I volunteer for the animals, but it’s the other volunteers and the staff who keep me coming back. When I see a volunteer walking a dog on a cold, dark evening or a volunteer coaxing a scared cat to eat, I know I’m part of a community of people who care about animals. PAWS is my happy place.
When you're not at PAWS, what do you like to do with your time?
Traveling, especially if it includes visiting art museums, reading, and hanging out with my husband, my friends, and my cat. I love my book club, and I’ve organized a group to get together after meetings and write postcards to elected representatives and others to thank them for their efforts and encourage them to support certain causes. I love doing anything creative, especially taking photos and turning them into “paintings” on my tablet.
What do you like best about being a PAWS volunteer? What do you find to be the most rewarding?
The best part of being a PAWS volunteer is that I can help a person who needs a cat and a cat who needs a person find each other, especially when the person is lonely or has special needs or the cat has special needs. I love the challenge of helping someone find a cat for their child who has autism or their elderly mom who has dementia. The most rewarding event is when one of our long-term resident cats is adopted. (I’m looking forward to the day when Shadow is adopted, so if anyone is looking for a sweet, senior cat who’s been with us nearly three years, who doesn’t like other cats very much and needs two injections a week, just let one of the cat volunteers know!)
If someone asked you why they should volunteer at PAWS, what answer would you give?
If you love animals, there’s a place for you at PAWS. You won’t find a nicer, more compassionate group of people anywhere. And you’ll have fun! In my opinion, there’s no better way to give back to your community than to volunteer at PAWS.