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A Visit With a Shelter Volunteer pt. 1

I am so excited!  Today and tomorrow I have TWO special guests that volunteer at PAWS of Norwalk Connecticut!  Today we’re talking with Kevin, AKA Meowmeowmans.  He volunteers with the cats.  Tomorrow we’ll have a volunteer that works with dogs.  Kevin responded to a request I made at Animal Shelter Volunteer Life blog.

I’ve asked them to each share with you a little about their experience as volunteers working for animals.  I confess that I have an ulterior motive- I want to answer questions that some humans have about volunteering.  So dogs and cats (and humans), give a warm welcome to Kevin!!!!!

Rumpy:  Thanks so much for being my guest today Kevin.  Let’s start out with you telling us what prompted you to volunteer at a shelter!

Kevin:  I grew up with pets (dogs, cats, hamsters, guinea pigs, rabbits, lizards and fish … not all at the same time, though), and have always had a great love of animals.  I first began volunteering at PAWS at a time when I had just moved back to the area following a short job stint in another city.

I was living in an apartment that did not allow pets (happily, my landlords later relented), and figured I could get an “animal fix” every week by volunteering, while doing something good and productive.  It wasn’t long before I was hooked, and discovered that I was getting far more BACK from these animals and my experiences at the shelter than I could ever give.  And here I am, still volunteering more than 14 years later.

Patch

Rumpy:  Talk about commitment!  So what exactly do you do there?

Kevin:  My wife Tracey and I volunteer six to seven hours per week as “cat socializers.”  This entails getting to know the kitties that come into the shelter, learning their personalities and behaviors, and helping them adjust to their new environment.  This increases the chances that the cats will “show” well to potential adopters.  And observations we and other volunteers make while spending time with the cats are noted so that the adoption counselors can help match them up with the best possible forever homes.

Rumpy:  And that means they are less likely to return to shelter care!

Kevin:  The adjustment to life at the shelter can be quite difficult for many cats, and many become depressed, fearful and withdrawn.  We volunteers (and the staff, too) try to provide the cats with lots of affection, attention, and stimulation – whatever it takes, really – to help their true personalities emerge. Oh, and we also do a lot of the “less glamorous” stuff, like cleaning cages, rooms and litter boxes, filling water bowls, too.

Tessa

Rumpy:  I guess it must be sad to be uprooted like that.  I know moving WITH my family was tough; moving without them must be awful!!  So people like you are very important!

Our other main activity for the shelter is writing our blog, “Animal Shelter Volunteer Life,”  which Tracey started to help raise awareness about the wonderful PAWS cats, and to help demonstrate the amazing human/animal bond that takes place during the time we spend at the shelter.  We also help PAWS occasionally with pro bono marketing, writing and public relations.

Rumpy:  Those skills are badly needed for rescue groups, especially in today’s world.  So tell us, what other types of volunteer opportunities are there?

Kevin:  There are so many different opportunities!  At PAWS, you must be at least 18 to work hands-on with the animals, but there are a myriad of ways to volunteer even if you’re not. The shelter is always in need of supplies, food, and donations.  Other ways to help include fundraising, helping write pet animal bios, making needed building repairs, transporting animals for vet appointments, cleaning, writing thank you letters, collecting and redeeming ​cans and bottles, fostering animals, and so on. And don’t forget … PAWS has cats AND dogs, so there are also plenty of volunteer opportunities for people who are more dog-oriented.

Petunia

Rumpy: Great!  Now how do you deal with the emotional issues?

Kevin:  In order to socialize the cats, we really have to extend ourselves emotionally, which allows us to be open to even the smallest communications from these wonderful creatures.  It’s heartbreaking to see a new animal cower, withdraw emotionally, or lash out in fear when it is approached.  But so often, we are amazed and inspired to see love and care help the same animal learn to trust people again.  And there’s no better feeling than when that animal finds its forever home.

So the emotions work both ways, and the happy ones outpace the sad ones BY FAR.  I will say that we are fortunate PAWS is a no-kill shelter.  The animals can – and do – live here for however long it takes them to find homes of their very own.  And they will be loved and cared for until they do.  We wish all shelters were no-kill, but sadly, that is not the case.  Tracey and I have huge admiration for people with the fortitude and constitution to volunteer with animals at kill-shelters … they are truly heroic in our eyes.

Allie

Rumpy:  Now is there any preconceived notions you had about animal rescue that have been challenged since you began to volunteer?

Kevin:  That these animals that end up in shelters are somehow “broken.”  It’s just not true, and we’ve found there’s pretty much a good home for every cat and dog that comes through PAWS.

Rumpy:  YAY!!!  I’m so glad to hear you say that.  Bad circumstances, bad mistakes do not equal bad animals.  So what advice do you have for anyone thinking of volunteering at a shelter or rescue?

Kevin:  Just take that first step, and try it.  The time and love you give has the power to change the animals’ lives.  And yours, too.

Rumpy:  Awesome!  Thanks so much Kevin, and thanks to you and Tracey for volunteering! Now if you want to check out PAWS on Facebook, click here.

The cats pictured above are available for adoption, so if you’re interested, contact PAWS.  And be sure to come back tomorrow when we talk to a volunteer from PAWS that works with dogs!  woo woo woo!!!

click here for the Cat Blogging Hop!

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About rumpydog

I am a malamute that was rescued by her. I live with June Buggie the cat. I blog about animal welfare and responsible care of companion animals at rumpydog.com. You can follow me on Twitter - @RumpyDog. And don't forget to LIKE my Facebook page! Thanks!

Discussion

121 thoughts on “A Visit With a Shelter Volunteer pt. 1

  1. A great Post and wonderful Interview Rumpy .. Having rescued several Cats from Shelters and my daughter volunteered when in her teens to work at weekends in the Cats Protection League Shelter.. Wonderful work done by all who work there Rumpy , Well done Kevin.. Awwww and I hope all the above find wonderful homes…
    Have a great Weekend 🙂 xx And thanks Rumpy for taking time out to visit 🙂 I know how busy your four legs must run around 🙂 xxx 😉

    Posted by Sue Dreamwalker | January 27, 2012, 1:09 AM
  2. Hey Rumpy. Is Kevin the head writer/ contributor of Animal Shelter Volunteer Life?

    These guys’ works are awesome and I so so so wanted to participate in shelters but I haven’t found one in our city.

    Well, I’m glad to hear that most pets ending up in the shelter aren’t “broken”.

    This is a good thing you’re doing, my friend.

    Huggies and Cheese,

    Haopee

    Posted by haopee | January 27, 2012, 1:49 AM
  3. What a super insight into what it’s like to be a volunteer and all the different types of work that are needed – something for everyone to do there by the sound of it. Well done to Kevin and Tracey.

    Posted by pippadogblog | January 27, 2012, 1:53 AM
  4. You are amazing!
    😀
    vento

    Posted by semprevento | January 27, 2012, 3:16 AM
  5. What a terrific interview. Amazing the work that volunteers do. What great volunteers Kevin and Tracy are. The shelter is so lucky to have them!

    Posted by Bassetmomma | January 27, 2012, 3:16 AM
  6. How wonderful PAWA is!!! It’s very important to have no-kill shelters in every country. I didn’t know that there were so many ways to help cats and dogs like fundraising, writing pet animal bios, making needed building repairs, transporting animals for vet appointments, cleaning, writing thank you letters, etc…. It was good to know that!!!! Kevin and Tracy are fabulous! Thanks for telling us about volunteer’s work! Very interesting 🙂

    Posted by eripanwkevin | January 27, 2012, 5:16 AM
  7. Yay!! Lovely to meet Kevin! Me and Charlie have only discovered Meowmeowman’s blog very recently and so are most happy to read a lot more about him and his partner and the wonderful PAWS! We are so grateful for all the fab work they do to help these amazing beautiful kitties while they find good forever homes!

    Take care
    x

    Posted by Old Kitty | January 27, 2012, 5:44 AM
  8. This is another great post of yours dear Jenny! And as always dear Rumpy is so nice and I loved these people… You are all doing great job, my Princess, she says to you all THANK YOU FOR YOU ALL, how much we love you…

    Thank you, have a nice day and weekend,
    with my love,
    nia

    Posted by niasunset | January 27, 2012, 7:32 AM
  9. Rumpy & Jenny,

    I am so HAPPY to read this Interview! I can personally say that PAWS is the BEST shelter in CT. The Staff and volunteers there are amazing! They do things no other shelter would even consider. I say this with first hand knowledge – since they have taken Satos from San Juan which I have helped coordinate and gone to visit.

    Most of cats are in rooms with furniture, cat trees, and tons of toys. They have a top of the line surgery, quarantine rooms, and many pups have very cool private rooms with beds and toys.

    The animals are showered with love by the staff and volunteers – and it really shows.

    They also rescue animals from other shelters that would otherwise be put to sleep.

    I did 95% of my Christmas Shopping for the Creatures there this year. They have a fabulous boutique of pet items all donated, and 100% of the money goes back into the animals. I love to go and visit Georganne (Director of the Pups) and the furries.

    PAWS ROCKS!

    Posted by Willow | January 27, 2012, 8:08 AM
  10. Great interview again, Rumpy. So much good information about what it means to be a volunteer. We were so happy to see you bring out the point that shelter pets are not all “broken”. They all deserve a chance at a better life.

    Woos – Phantom, Thunder, Ciara, and Lightning

    Posted by Phantom, Thunder, Ciara, and Lightning | January 27, 2012, 8:36 AM
    • I’m really glad you found the interview to be informative! 🙂

      We do find that there is pretty much a home for every single animal. Sometimes it takes a little longer to find it, but it always seems to be out there somewhere. 🙂

      Posted by meowmeowmans | January 27, 2012, 4:05 PM
  11. Another great interview, Rumpy. What a rewarding passtime. I’m seriously thinking of seeing if there is one local to me that I could volunteer at – I think I’d love it!

    I hope the cats above find great homes soon – I’d take them myself but there is a small matter of the Atlantic Ocean between us. Allie is identical to my cat Phoebe too 🙂

    Posted by The Book Whisperer | January 27, 2012, 9:54 AM
    • I’m so excited that the interview has inspired you check out volunteer opportunities in your area. 🙂 Thank you for adopting Phoebe.

      And rest assured, the cats shown in the post *will* find forever homes; and until they do, we’ll give them lots and lots of care and attention!

      Posted by meowmeowmans | January 27, 2012, 4:07 PM
  12. Forgot to mention that Phoebe is a rescue cat too – we got her at 6 months old and she was already on her second home by then (people didn’t want her for some reason) and she has now been with us for over 12 years! It has taken some time and patience but she is now one of the most affectionate cats ever! 🙂

    Posted by The Book Whisperer | January 27, 2012, 9:57 AM
  13. That’s awesome! Volunteering can be so rewarding.

    Posted by Jodi | January 27, 2012, 10:05 AM
  14. Wonderful blog I do admire people who can do this job I would just weep all the time and take all the animals home with me!!!xx

    Posted by willowdot21 | January 27, 2012, 10:24 AM
  15. This was a truly inspiring post. I have a lot of free time on my hands. I think I should investigate volunteering at an animal shelter. Thank you for opening my eyes.

    Posted by Russell Smith | January 27, 2012, 11:56 AM
  16. Dear Rumpy and Jen,

    Sorry I’m only getting around to read this now. I just returned early this morning from an overseas business trip. THANK YOU so much for interviewing me, and helping spread the important message about volunteering. 🙂 We hope it helps answer questions others may have, and maybe just inspire some people to give volunteering a try.

    And for those reading this … I *know* you’re going to love tomorrow’s interview with my PAWS dog volunteer pal Cindy!

    Hugs!

    Kevin
    meowmeowmans

    Posted by meowmeowmans | January 27, 2012, 12:13 PM
  17. Hey Rumpy! Great Post! Meowmeowmans visits me and me visits him, but me sure learned lots from your interview with him! Me thinks that he is one terriffic guy and if me was back in a shelter (yes me Penelope, came from a shelter) me thinks me would want him to try to socialize me (it took Mommy and Daddy years).
    Thanks rumpy and thanks to peoples like MeowMeowMans!
    Kisses
    Nellie

    Posted by catfromhell | January 27, 2012, 12:48 PM
  18. We see admire what Kevin and Tracey and the other volunteers do. Wonderful post. xx

    Posted by Milo and Alfie | January 27, 2012, 1:17 PM
  19. kevin,

    Did you forget to mention that volunteering is a great way to meet and marry a compatible mate?

    🙂

    Posted by Mary | January 27, 2012, 2:13 PM
  20. Having incorporated three dogs over the last 3 years from in-laws who “couldn’t handle them”, I know very well the benefits and good results from socializing dogs and cats. Oh, did I mention I also adopted a cat from those yahoos! They gave them very clean, safe, living conditions, with regular, healthy feedings, plenty of room to excercise, etc.–but gave them zero socialization, one-on-one attention and wondered why each respective animal grew depressed, more and more skittish, less and less friendly over time. The animals are all well-bred and bright and healthy. They just needed real homes and being allowed to become true family members.

    Posted by granbee | January 27, 2012, 4:11 PM
  21. I had lots of people friends when I was in dog jail before I came to my forever home. Hooray for the volunteers. They make life so much better for all the dogs and kitties in shelters.

    Posted by Bongo | January 27, 2012, 5:24 PM
  22. Rumpy you’re a great photographer 🙂 I really enjoyed all the cat pics. Petunia is a gorgeous name.

    Volunteers in these shelters are so, so precious. Bless them all.

    Posted by WordsFallFromMyEyes | January 27, 2012, 5:32 PM
  23. What a great post, Rumpy, and it’s good to know there are wonderful people out there giving loving care to these animals who are in need. Our dog passed away in November and it was a tough time for my husband, my two older kids and myself. Lucky Girl would have been 11 next month, so she had lived a good life, but they become a true fixture in the family tree…anyway, in a month or two, we will start perusing the Human Society, etc. to adopt another dog. She was adopted and we feel there are so many cats and dogs that need a good home, it’s better to go that route…:)

    Posted by lscotthoughts | January 27, 2012, 6:28 PM
  24. I think this must be one of your best interviews yet Rumpy!
    What would shelter animals do without people like Kevin. Thank you Kevin and all the other volunteers for giving so unselfishly of their time and their love.

    Posted by barb19 | January 27, 2012, 6:46 PM
  25. Oh, glad we came by to read this. We love Kevin’s blog and we learned something new about his volunteer work. We added a link to this in our post for tomorrow.

    Posted by jansfunnyfarm | January 27, 2012, 6:58 PM
  26. Rumpy,
    I nominated you and all of your two and four legged family members for the Hope Unites Globally (HUG) Award. You had talked about how difficult it is for animal blogs to get Freshly Pressed, but what you do is important and should be recognized. You can go to http://ahopefortoday.com/2012/01/14/hope-unites-globally-hug-award-guidelines/ for general information abou the award and its acceptance guidelines.

    Posted by Paprika Furstenburg | January 27, 2012, 9:10 PM
  27. I was so excited about spreading the word about this great interview yesterday, that I forgot to leave a comment!

    Kevin and his wife Tracey have been amazing volunteers at PAWS for years now. The feline program wouldn’t be the same without them. They’ve also been known to step on over to help out on the canine side, especially on our major events like our Bark in the Park annual dog walk fundraiser.

    Volunteers like K & T are hard to come by, and we love them so much! They truly are special people. And I’m really, really fortunate to be able to count them among my friends!

    ~cindy, PAWS volunteer

    Posted by Pibble | January 28, 2012, 5:51 AM
  28. Great interview. Our kitty is a rescue kitty so I appreciate how hard the kitty rescuers work.

    Posted by 2browndawgs | January 28, 2012, 5:53 AM
  29. Good job! All my animals are rescues and the people doing the work desire great praise. Thanks for interviewing them.

    Posted by dogdaz | January 28, 2012, 6:02 AM
  30. Tracey and Kevin are two of our favorite people. They do such terrific job volunteering and also posting about the cats that need homes so badly. It is such a good thing they do giving those cats in the shelter some love and socializing. Great interview.

    Posted by Marg | January 28, 2012, 9:45 AM
  31. Thank you for sharing this interview. I have been a fan of Tracey and Kevin since the moment I was first introduced to their beautiful blog and commend them so much for what they do. The socialization aspect is so important to finding these cats a stable home and it is wonderful to hear how enriching it can be to bring a cat out of its shell. The photos on the blog are wonderful too – they really exude a loving, clean, happy, and healthy cat, which I really think helps people in the adoption process. By giving these cats such a platform to shine on, it is impossilbe not to want to adopt one!! Great job Rumpy and special hugs to Kevin, Tracey, and all the devoted and compassionate volunteers!

    Posted by Deb Barnes - Zee and Zoey | January 28, 2012, 1:15 PM
  32. Rumpy, dats a PAWESOME interview of one of our Mostest Favoritest Bloggers, meowmeowmans!!

    Everything he said Mommy sez “DITTO!” to – her shelter volunteer experience mimics theirs – it’s very rewarding and the kittehs need advocates in shelters like him & Tracey!

    Posted by Ryker's Boys and Allie (@Ryker_Tyker) | January 28, 2012, 1:29 PM
  33. Volunteers rule! Great interview and post!

    Posted by The Hook | January 28, 2012, 3:09 PM
  34. Awesome interview of our friend, Kevin! We admire what he does for all the animals at the shelter.

    Wally, Ernie & Zoey

    Posted by The Island Cats | January 29, 2012, 7:59 AM
  35. We’re glad we stopped by. Its nice to learn some background information. We truly want all the kitties (and dogs too) to find a home, and its nice that they receive love and attention until they do. Its heartbreaking so many deserving animals will never know what it is to have a loving home. All our kitties have been adoptees from shelters, strays or ferals. We love the little kitty with the tie logo PAWS uses!

    Posted by Oui Oui | January 29, 2012, 8:32 AM
  36. What another wonderful post, Rumpy. We loved reading about Kevin and his wife, Tracey. The cats, and those that visit–and hopefully later adopt–are so lucky for all their hard work. Great photos. I hope all of them get adopted!! xx

    Posted by Moxie Dogs | January 29, 2012, 1:15 PM
  37. Thank you for sharing this!

    Posted by eof737 | January 30, 2012, 12:11 AM
  38. Dear Rumpy,
    Meowmeowmans gived me a blogging award and me has put a link in my post thanking him back to this post where yous interviewed him. Me hopes that is OK. If not, let me knows and me will take the link off.
    me should has asked first!
    Kisses
    Nellie

    Posted by catfromhell | January 31, 2012, 8:56 PM
  39. Rumpy, you are THE best 🙂 You’re gorgeous, & really into life & its gifts.

    Best to you 🙂 N’n.

    Posted by WordsFallFromMyEyes | February 3, 2012, 9:53 AM
  40. Bless Kevin and the likes of him who make this world a better, kinder place for the animals. They serve as an inspiration to us all. Thank you for sharing a post that touched our hearts.

    Posted by the island traveler | February 5, 2012, 9:04 PM
  41. Love this post Rumpy! Thank you for featuring special humans helping animals. TYSVM to all the volunteers helping animals. They are truly special!

    Posted by petmamma | February 6, 2012, 7:52 PM
  42. Great work Rumpy. Thank you very much. It was just what I needed to read about after a dull day at work. x

    Posted by Graphite Bunny | February 7, 2012, 9:16 AM
  43. thanks for a wonderful post

    Posted by Heather Whitley Gibson | February 10, 2012, 8:42 AM
  44. Hello! Thanks for the “Like” clicks at zendogtrainingcenter.wordpress.com. I like your blog, too — especially the name “rumpydog.” 🙂

    Posted by Lori Stephens | February 13, 2012, 8:20 AM
  45. With three cats in our household this looks like a great place for me..Thank you for joining me at in other words and pictures. (:

    Posted by Roberta | February 15, 2012, 12:57 PM
  46. I didn’t really know that there were “no kill” shelters! That’s wonderful! I guess all kittens can’t be like our “Fland-diddly-danders” who crawled up my husband’s 6’4″ frame to his shoulder and convinced him to take him home to our already 1 cat 1 pug household almost 10 years ago. As our only surviving member of our furry family, he is the neighborhood “home coming king” as he has endeared himself to our neighbors as well as us. We love him, and he is so easy considering we now have two little boys that make our live infinitely busier! I love that there are other people that have the time to cultivate the more congenial side of these stray felines so that they can find loving homes!

    Posted by artjen1971 | February 15, 2012, 8:23 PM
  47. That is the sweetest thing! And what a good idea to do an interview. I love animals (and even some people) and I think what those shelter volunteers are doing is just wonderful!

    Posted by butimbeautiful | February 18, 2012, 3:37 AM
  48. We have a cat called Poolaloo that came from a rescue cats home. She is very lovely. Thank you for this great post.

    Posted by Graphite Bunny | February 18, 2012, 10:10 AM
  49. So many comments…I like it!

    Posted by george-b | February 23, 2012, 7:43 AM
  50. Great post. I hope it results in more animals finding new homes.

    Posted by IsobelandCat | February 26, 2012, 2:49 AM
  51. Rumpy you rock my world!!! Way to spread the word about volunteering. The Human Society is only 6 blocks from my house. I want to volunteer with the dogs and cats there. The have folks who volunteer to help people select their new best friend! xoox m I could use a little dog love myself … heres a big smooch beautiful dude!!!!

    Posted by iamnotshe | February 26, 2012, 8:01 AM

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