The Sun News 2/21/13…Volunteering…a Rewarding Experience!

Kelly Bebak

The Pet’s Perspective

Most people would agree that volunteering for any cause or organization has to be the worst paying (no paying) job ever, but it is also one of the most rewarding and fulfilling jobs you will ever have!

Many years ago I read a wonderful book, The Simple Living Guide, which provides many insights into how to lead a less stressful and more joyful life.  I revisited some of the chapters of this book and I swear it was reaching out to me as I read how “donating money is helpful, but donating your time is even more compelling.”   Certainly writing a check is a lot easier and less effort than actually giving up your precious time, but not nearly as gratifying.

Volunteering of any kind is a great life lesson for any child and a way for them to have a deeper connection to their community, whether it is through helping people or animals.  Many of the animal rescue/advocacy organizations welcome children into their volunteer programs and recognize the value of teaching children to have compassion for animals early on in their development.  Schools, churches and Girl or Boy Scout troops can work with an animal rescue group on specific projects to earn badges, points or credits… a win-win situation for everyone.

Socializing with the Kitties >^..^<

People will often ask me which animal groups need volunteers…  ALL of them!   Get started by determining which organization you’d like to help.  Perhaps a certain group took in a stray cat, dog or injured wild animal for you or maybe you love certain animals.  Find that personal connection and you can find an organization that is right for you.  Then, narrow down what your interests are (i.e.  fund raising, writing, socializing animals or dog walking, adoption events, answering phones, setting humane traps, transporting animals, shelter duties, fostering …the opportunities are endless.

Operation Pets Prepares for Spay/Neuter Clinic of Feral/Community Cats (TNVR)

Currently, I volunteer with Feral Cat Focus and Operation Pets Spay Neuter Clinic of WNY with TNVR (trap/neuter/vaccinate/return) projects to humanely reduce the overpopulation of cats and kittens in our WNY communities.  I also spend about three hours per week (cleaning, feeding and medicating cats) at the Precious Paws Kitty Shelter in Hamburg.  And, I recently got involved with The Tango Fund which was founded to help defray the cost of physiotherapy rehabilitation for needy WNY pet owners.  I have a very personal connection to all of these amazing organizations, hence why I chose to give them my gift of time.

WNY is incredibly lucky to have such a strong network of animal rescue and advocacy groups who take in many different animals.  These mostly volunteer based organizations also work tirelessly on educating the general public on humane solutions to animal overpopulation and preventing animal cruelty.  We all know shopping locally is important to our communities, so too is volunteering and donating to our local animal welfare organizations.

John Grogan wrote, “Animal Lovers are a special breed of humans, generous of spirit, full of empathy, perhaps a little prone to sentimentality, and with hearts as big as a cloudless sky.”   No better time than the present to start your volunteering career…our furry friends are counting on you!

Coonhound Gus (Short Hair) Sporting a Fleece Coat & Siberian Husky Dakota has a Naturally Thick Dense Coat…

PET TIP:    An animal’s ability to tolerate cold temperatures is dependent upon their age, general health, diet, and coat density.  Use common sense during frigid weather…if it’s too cold for you, keep your pet indoors and only let them out for potty breaks!  Shivering is a sure sign that it is too cold to be outside.  Use a coat and boots on your dog, as needed, if you walk in cold temperatures or where road salt is present.  Remove snow balls and corrosive salt on paws by dipping them in luke warm water then towel dry.  Also a good idea to use paw balm on your dog’s paw pads as an added layer of protection and to soothe dry cracked pads.

NOTE:  NYS Agriculture and Markets Law § 353-b (Appropriate Shelter for Dogs Left Outdoors), “requires that any person who owns or has custody or control of a dog that is left outdoors provide them with appropriate shelter” (and food & water).  If you see any animal outdoors in freezing weather and he appears to be in danger, please call your local SPCA or Animal Control officer so they can investigate.     If you have questions or comments for Kelly, go to:

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