Pets column: For Animal Allies, success begins with a community of volunteersAt the end of September, volunteers had put in more than 25,000 hours at Animal Allies Humane Society this year — the equivalent of an additional 17 full-time employees.
By: Amy Miller, For the Budgeteer News
At the end of September, volunteers had put in more than 25,000 hours at Animal Allies Humane Society this year — the equivalent of an additional 17 full-time employees.
When I look back on what Animal Allies Humane Society has accomplished — particularly achieving and maintaining zero euthanasia for all healthy animals in the adoption program — I know that its mission could never have
been accomplished without our community of volunteers.
Volunteers are a vital part of any nonprofit organization. At Animal Allies, they donate their valuable time to care for shelter residents, foster kittens and puppies who are not yet ready for adoption, socialize animals who are waiting for homes, help with fundraising events and much more.
In a world where there never seems to be enough time in a day, volunteers find the extra hours to make a difference.
Dan and Jan Anderson have been volunteering at Animal Allies in Duluth for five years. “We started out doing it for the dogs,” Dan said of his dedication to volunteer, “but learned that the dogs give us so much more than we give them. It’s great to see them so happy when we walk in with the leash — wriggling from head to toe with delight! The unconditional love we get from the dogs makes it all worth it.”
For volunteers like these two, the look of gratitude in a dog’s big brown eyes or happy purrs from a contented kitty is payment enough for the time they give.
Bill Wade, a recent retiree from UMD, was inspired by his rescue dog to volunteer for the shelter.
“Adopting Veda was such a positive experience in our lives. We had her for 11 years; she lived to be 16,” said Bill. “Once I retired, I didn’t want to be idle. When I decided to give back to a charitable organization, I chose Animal Allies because they are a shining star in animal rescue. It has been an amazing experience to interact with lots of new dogs and see them find homes so quickly. I’m proud to be a level-one dog walker.”
Unfortunately, it can be difficult at times to fill volunteer shifts needed to keep shelter residents happy and comfortable. Animal Allies experiences a great reduction in shelter-care volunteers, particularly dog walkers, at the start of each fall, and this number decreases even more once our winter begins to take hold.
The organization continually welcomes volunteers who are willing to tend to the needs of our furry friends, especially in cold seasons.
Dan and Jan Anderson insist that a little cold weather is never a bother. “We come every Sunday morning, holidays, and any other time we have a day off,” says Jan. “We are there no matter the weather — hot, cold, rain or snow — we always leave the shelter feeling great.”
Those interested in volunteering for Animal Allies should sign up for one of the two orientations offered each month by contacting volunteer coordinator Becky Mathiowetz at (218) 623-6343 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. After the orientation, volunteers choose which roles they’d like to be more involved in and attend trainings to learn how to perform the necessary tasks: tasks that are crucial to achieving the organization’s mission.
Simply put: there is always work to be done and volunteers make the nonprofit world go round. We can give a dollar value to annual budget goals or costs for medical treatment and care of animals in need — but volunteers? They’re priceless.
Amy Miller is the marketing and communications manager for Animal Allies Humane Society. She lives in Duluth with her husband and three adopted pets: dogs Maverick and Goose, and a cat named Buddy Love.