This summer, students and locals are choosing to serve their community at local animal shelters by taking care of homeless animals in a variety of ways.
The San Marcos Regional Animal Shelter staff are always looking for more volunteers to help take care of their furry friends. Lauren Volpe, community outreach coordinator, is in charge of recruiting volunteers and said there are a variety of tasks at the shelter.
“Our shelter is always full of volunteers who love to help animals,” Volpe said.
Gail Sharp is a local and volunteer who has been working at the San Marcos Regional Animal Shelter for over four years. She initially sought out the volunteer position because she loves walking dogs, but soon became invested in helping as much as possible.
“Just by being there and being with the animals and making them sociable, we’re making it more likely for them to get adopted,” Sharp said.
Sharp said the shelter is allotted money, but with the amount animals coming in and out of the shelter, there is always room for help.
“The shelter can always use more help,” Sharp said, “volunteers help with that—they get the job done.”
According to Volpe, there is something for everyone to do at the shelter, from walking dogs and cuddling cats, to administrative roles which entail assisting in adoption events.
Sharp said volunteering at the shelter is perfect for anyone because there is no set schedule to follow and the designation of tasks is based on each individual’s skill set and passion.
“The shelter staff encourages volunteers to do what they most enjoy doing,” Sharp said. “Some people come just to play with the cats, some people come to walk the dogs and others come to help with all the duties there: cleaning, basically.”
Shelby Hulshof, animal science senior and shelter volunteer, has been volunteering at PAWS Animal Shelter in Kyle for two years. Hulshof said she started volunteering at PAWS as an opportunity to fulfill community hours for her sorority and gain experience for veterinary school.
“Since you start, you are pretty hands on,” Hulshof said, “you can go sit in the cat room and socialize with the cats, play with them and cuddle with them. With the dogs we get to take them out for walks, if they need—give them baths and train them if you know how.”
Hulshof said working at the shelter has been a rewarding experience and knows her work there benefits the animals before they move on to their forever homes. She said the animals learn to socialize quickly, but need human interaction in order to assimilate and be more adoptable.
“You can definitely tell when animals come in that haven’t had a lot of (human) interaction, they’re scared, timid and they don’t come up to you right away,” Hulshof said, “You can also tell which ones have been around people, and gone out for walks and they just get so excited to see you, they’re just so ready to go.”
Both Hulshof and Sharp see no end in sight to their volunteer work at shelters and will continue to dedicate time and efforts to helping as many animals get adopted as they can.