Volunteer Profile: Animal Duties

Animal Care Volunteer: Jenni

What is your volunteer role and what does it involve?

I normally volunteer for a few hours each weekend, either walking the dogs or cuddling the kitties on rotation, and occasionally helping out with  or attending the fund-raising events (often baking banana bread, my specialty! i.e. the only thing I can bake well…).

Currently I am helping out with the Doggy Dynamix training each Saturday morning, and absolutely loving it.

Why did you decide to volunteer?

I visited the shelter on my birthday just over three years ago just to look around and fell in love with the animals (it was hard not to take them all home!) so I applied and was recruited later that year.

I had just come back from University in Cardiff where I volunteered a lot so I wanted to fill the void and give something back to those in need.

I am a huge animal lover – dogs in particular – and strongly believe in the “adopt, don’t shop” philosophy. It’s horrible to think of innocent, beautiful, loyal animals being neglected or abused and spending some time each week trying to bring a little joy and companionship into their lives is more a privilege than a task.

What is the most rewarding aspect of your volunteering?

Seeing animals who you spend time with each week grow, develop, gain in training and confidence and then go on to find their forever homes. It’s often bittersweet, as it’s easy to get attached, but knowing that they are going to loving homes is really satisfying.

Tell us about a highlight of your volunteering.

Meeting and getting to know the wonderful residents, and seeing them (especially long stay pets like Sandy and Poppy) go on to find homes. Also, it’s been great to learn new skills, tips and tricks about animal care and training.

How has volunteering helped you personally? What does it mean to you?

So many things! It’s great exercise, emotionally rewarding, and helping such a fantastic cause. In particular, we had to put our family dog of 13 years Oscar to sleep last year, and after the initial pain and shock it was helpful to surround myself with and channel my affection towards other dogs as I missed (and still do miss terribly) having Oscar around.

Volunteering is a significant part of my life and I wouldn’t change it for the world, one of the best decisions I’ve made.

What’s the one thing you would tell someone about volunteering?

Take a chance and just do it! Choose something you’re passionate about, your heart must be in it so  that you’re volunteering for the right reasons. It’s so rewarding and a valuable use of spare time.

by Cheltenham Animal Shelter

Rescuing and rehoming dog, cats and small pets in Cheltenham and Gloucestershire.