Volunteering Changed Me, It Can Change You Too

13 months ago I began volunteering in animal rescue. More specifically, I began volunteering with Triad Golden Retriever Rescue out of Greensboro, NC. It wasn’t even something I was looking to do at the time, something I didn’t know I wanted to do. But things have a way of finding you when they need you, or when you need them.

Growing up I, like many of you I’m sure, had to do “community service” for sports or schooling organizations, or had to do X amount of volunteer hours for a college class. I didn’t want to, I slacked off, I didn’t understand the value of giving my free time to help a cause. I was young and immature, I know that.

However, choosing to volunteer has created a snowball effect in my life. It’s not just one snowball either. It’s as if the main snowball of volunteering, branched off, broke off, into many different smaller but still important snowballs. Volunteering with TGRR led to volunteering with 2 other animal rescue groups. It has led to me volunteering for free shifts at work or other things , just because! It has led to me talking more about causes beyond animal rescue such as cancer. It has led me to a philanthropist mindset.

In a different snowball it has changed how I interact with my dogs. It has changed how I interact with new dogs that we meet. I’ve learned how to approach new dogs, knowing now that now all dogs can be approached the same. And by approaching a dog wrong, you could get an adverse reaction making that dog seem rough, cruel, not adoptable, etc.

In an additional snowball it has changed how I talk about dogs with others. Knowing that proper pet education is one of the most important things in the future of animal rescue.

It has given me new connections, allowed me to connect with new people. Opened my heart to new things.

Volunteering has changed me.  It can change you too.

With the holiday seasons coming up, my heart is feeling a little extra heavy.

  • Heavy because I know there are animals that are tied up outside, away from the love of the family interacting inside. They are yard dogs and nothing more
  • Heavy because I know there are animals in shelters, living out their last few hours in hopes of some miracle family coming in to take them home. That family won’t come, there’s too many animals in the shelter, and not enough awareness about it.
  • Heavy because I know there are dogs and cats having unexpected litters right now because their owners failed to spay or neuter them. And when those litters can’t be given away for free (NEVER a guarantee at a good home either.  In fact, giving your animal away for free often lands it in a puppy mill, or a dog fighting home) those tiny puppies and kittens will be taken to a shelter.
  • Heavy because there are animals in shelters who will be alone for the holiday. And while they don’t know what Thanksgiving or Christmas is, they will most certainly be more lonely when the staff disappears for their holidays, only to have few staff members check in infrequently to let the dogs out. No fault to the staff members either. It’s to the fault of the bastards who surrender their animals there in the first place.
  • Heavy because I know there are animals out there, maybe even in my own neighborhood, who are being neglected and abused, but their angel person hasn’t discovered them yet, hasn’t rescued them yet.
  • In every. single. animal rescue organization operation there is never enough volunteers. Which is why I’m urging you today to consider taking on one of these roles. I’m urging you to help
  • First and foremost, consider opening your home (or garage!) to a temporary holiday foster. Relieve some dog or cat from the loneliness of the shelter around the holidays
  • And if you can’t foster, go walk some dogs! Never underestimate the healing nature of persistent and consistent human interaction on a dog or cats mental stability while being sheltered.
  • Sign up as an actual volunteer, and stick to it! It’s more common to have people sign up to be volunteers and never actually put an hours worth of work in, than it is to see volunteers actually go through with their actions

You can be any of the following:

  • A foster, hands down the most important role that every organization is lacking in

  • A dog walker

  • A part of the events team, working events only

  • Part of the social media team, working on the organizations page and sharing on your own too

  • Part of the fundraising team

  • You could even create fun events for volunteers and prospective volunteers to mingle and engage with one another

  • You could be part of the adoption application process. There are many steps to this. Intake, phone interview, vet reference checks, home visits, match-making between dog and family, etc.

  • You could work with animal transport team, bringing animals into a no-kill organization, sparing them from the shelter.

  • Heck, you could even just focus on proper education on proper pet ownership

There are many ways to help. Trust me. I started off as a volunteer just to write the pieces for our website about our adoptable dogs, and now I’ve expanded to also do:

Write about our recently adopted dogs, the ever so anticipated “adoption announcements”

  • Telephone interviews for adoption applications
  • Vet reference checks for adoption applications
  • Home visit checks for adoption applications
  • Some weekend events
  • Dog walker and socializer

I get not everyone is suited to volunteer in animal rescue. Some think you may not have time, trust me you do.

Some of you may have thought about volunteering but have questions about it. Just ask!! We will answer.

And for those who consider being a foster family. No organization will just thrust a dog or cat upon you. You have to agree to it, you get to know about the dog or cat first, you decide if you think it will work. Fostering is hands down the most important part of any animal rescue. So what are you waiting for, go sign up!

Below are some of my favorite organizations, yes some are local to my area, but some are nationwide too! If none of these are close to you, then take it upon yourself to do a little research. Google works magic these days

  • Triad Golden Retriever Rescue- Greensboro, NC
  • Humane Society of Alamance County- Burlington, NC
  • SPCA of the Triad- Greensboro, NC
  • Tracy’s Dogs- Texas
  • Paws4Ever- Mebane, NC
  • Big Fluffy Dog Rescue- Nashville, TN
  • Silver Muzzle Cottage- Michigan
  • Merit Pit Bull Foundation- Greensboro, NC
  • Almost There Foster Care – Arizona
  • Best Friends Animal Society – Utah
  • Kansas City Pet Project- Kansas City
  • Underdog Rescue- Minnesota
  • Humane Society (International and of the United States)
  • ASPCA

I know many people are getting a little, tired, of seeing me posts about animal rescue so much. But I believe that there is much more reward in trying, and in doing, and because of that I will not stop talking.

I urge you to sign up as a volunteer today. If any of the above reasons doesn’t convince you enough, think of all of the new people who could meet. Think of the lives you could change. 

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