April 25, 2017

Celebrating National Volunteer Week with an ASPCA Volunteer!

volunteer holding a dog

It’s National Volunteer Week! Whether they’re taking a shelter dog for a walk outside, bottle-feeding a newborn kitten or socializing with a rescued rabbit, each and every one of our dedicated volunteers plays a vital role in assisting the ASPCA with the animals in our care every day. Last year alone, 800 volunteers logged over 50,000 hours volunteering at the ASPCA Adoption Center!

Like other animal welfare organizations across the country, the ASPCA relies on our incredible volunteer force to help our shelter operations and ensure that our animals are happy, healthy and safe. At the ASPCA Adoption Center, Kitten Nursery and in the field, our volunteers go above and beyond to help make our life-saving work possible.

In honor of National Volunteer Week, we’ve asked one of our devoted volunteers, Janet P., to tell us more about her experience volunteering at the ASPCA.

Q: How long have you been volunteering at the ASPCA, and how did you get involved?

A: Just over three years. Years ago I rescued a mother cat and her four, seven-week old kittens, who, in addition to being undersocialized, had contracted every known malady and almost didn’t make it. The experience inspired me to be part of a larger effort to help animals in need.

Q: What types of animals have you assisted with?

A: Cats and dogs, but mostly cats. I’ve also volunteered with rabbits and chickens who were part of other ASPCA cases!

Q: What have been some of your roles while volunteering?

A: Many of the roles available to experienced volunteers are great opportunities to learn from medical and behavior staff. I've become a much better pet parent from helping the veterinarians through the volunteer program "Helping Hands." I also spend a lot of time syringe-feeding kittens at the Kitten Nursery and at the Adoption Center. Another interesting volunteer role is socializing cats in the Animal Recovery Center. Because legal cases can go on for many months, there is an opportunity to get to know individual cats, and see neglected or abused animals make amazing progress.

Janet feeding a kitten

Janet syringe-feeding a kitten at the ASPCA Kitten Nursery.

Q: What is the most rewarding part about volunteering?

A: Seeing a sick or shy animal recover, come out of their shell and get adopted. I've also witnessed incredible acts of kindness from both volunteers and the staff.

Q: Do you have a favorite volunteer story?

A: There are a couple of volunteers who spend hours helping with the twice weekly dipping of cats and kittens who have ringworm. The volunteers make new beds out of boxes and heat up gel-filled disks so the cats can stay warm while they dry.

Q: Do you have a favorite animal story?

A: Some of the animals who have affected me the most are ones where every resource was devoted to creating the best possible outcome for the animal. There was a feisty black-and-white kitten named Jordache, who had an irritable wound on her back. No e-collar or creative bandaging could protect the wound from Jordache’s obsessive scratching. Finally, one of the veterinarians came up with a plan to place a knit shirt over the bandage and cover her nails with sheaths. In no time her wound was healed and she was ready for adoption—complete with pink, sparkly claws. So cute! 

Medical volunteer holding a kitten

Q: What advice do you have for anyone interested in volunteering?

A: My advice is to be patient. Most of us have our own experience with animals and want to jump right in. Over time, I learned how animals in shelters are different from our own pets. They change dramatically over time but also in response to changes in their daily environment, such as loud noises or being moved to another kennel.

In just over three years, Janet has logged more than 2,300 hours with the ASPCA! We thank Janet, and all of our incredible volunteers who are a part of the ASPCA. Your compassion and hard work helps animals in our care every day of the year.

Learn more about volunteer opportunities with the ASPCA in New York City, Los Angeles or other parts of the country. Or, contact your local animal shelter to inquire about volunteer opportunities in your own community.