A Visit With a Shelter Volunteer Pt. 2

Oh Dog! I’m so glad you came back for part 2!  Today we meet Cindy, another volunteer at PAWS in Norwalk Connecticut.  Cindy works with dogs, so we’re going to find out what her experience has been!  Help me give a warm welcome to Cindy!!!


Rumpy:  Thanks for being my guest today Cindy.  How about you tell us what got you into to volunteering at PAWS.

Cindy:  For almost three years, I drove by a place called PAWS during my daily commute. I was tempted to stop in, but anxious at the same time. I had no idea what their philosophy was, and I had never volunteered at a shelter before – were they no-kill? Did they help all animals or just the “cream of the crop” as so many places do?  So, I did my research and found out that they were, in fact, no-kill.

I also noticed that they had quite a few senior pets available for adoption (always a good sign that a shelter isn’t overly selective of who they’re saving) and, in reading the pets’ bios, I could determine that they were taking in some animals with real medical issues and rehabilitating them. This was the kind of place I was looking for, but I was still hesitant. What if it was depressing? How would I react? And would I want to take all of them home?! Finally, a friend talked me into going with her one night, and almost eight years later, we both still volunteer there.


Rumpy:  Hooray!!  So what exactly do you do there?

Cindy:  I started on the canine side of the shelter, and that’s primarily where I still volunteer. I began as a dog walker, helped with training (both dogs and new walkers), cleaning kennels, feeding – anything that needed to be done, I would do. Now, I’m considered a “manager on duty,” which means I’m the go-to person if there’s a problem with an animal or the building during my shift. This could mean something as simple as telling someone where the poop bags are to rushing an animal to the emergency vet.

Rumpy:  Oh Dog! That’s alot of hats to wear!  Looks like you’ve got to develop some skills since you came on board as well!

Cindy:  There was also a period of time when I worked on the feline side of the shelter, which was a huge opportunity for me because I grew up with dogs, not cats. I quickly learned to “read” a cat (who knew a wagging tail isn’t a good thing!) and I fell in love with quite a few of the feline residents of the shelter!

Ruth and Viper

Rumpy:  Awwww….. I like kitties too!

Cindy:  I’m an Adoption Counselor, which means I have the opportunity to work directly with the public. This has its good and bad aspects, as not everyone is pleasant, honest, or honorable… Thankfully, most people are! My job as adoption counselor is to review applications, interview potential adopters, and introduce them to dogs who should be good matches in the hopes of finding great homes.

I’ve also helped behind the scenes medicating animals, whether it’s administering fluids to very ill puppies or nebulizing cats. These are skills for which I’m so thankful for having the opportunity to learn!

Reuben and Voltaire

One of my biggest responsibilities right now is helping with fundraising. I help to plan events, and often design the brochures, flyers, and websites we use for our larger events.

PAWS is also invited to appear on a local pet talk show quite often, so I have the pleasure of helping to shepherd dogs there and present them to the host and the public.

Finally, I help with content on our website, which (thankfully) is going through a major redesign – stay tuned – and I try desperately to keep up with a blog that focuses on the wonderful dogs at PAWS, but I’m not always up-to-date… (http://rescuek9-dogs.blogspot.com/)

So, even when I’m not physically at the shelter, I’m always doing something related to PAWS.

Rumpy:  Wow!  That is alot of different things that need to be done!  So I guess no matter what your skill, you can be of help to an animal shelter!

Cindy:  The only restriction PAWS has is that a volunteer has to be 18 or older to work with the animals. Beyond that, you can do anything that you’d like, really, and we need all the help we can get! We’re a privately-funded, grassroots organization – no government funding – with a very small staff and an army of volunteers. The staff relies on volunteers to help with so many things, like the less elegant but essential jobs of doing laundry or filling and emptying dishwashers or helping to clean kennels and cat rooms.

Of course, a well-socialized animal is a more adoptable one, so we need lots of people who are willing to bring a shy kitten out of its shell, or work with a dog so he has good manners and can leave the shelter and integrate into someone’s household more easily. We also have people who work on fundraising, whether it’s weekend visits to local shops to represent the shelter or our larger annual events like our dog walk or wine tasting.


For volunteers who are under 18, we encourage them to be creative! Have competitions at school to see who can collect the most redeemable cans and bottles, or organize collections of goods based on our Wish List of items we use every day at the shelter. And so many young adults have “donated” their birthdays to PAWS, asking their guests to bring a toy for an animal or a Wish List item in lieu of a gift.

Rumpy:  I love how you are able to incorporate everyone to help us animals!  But how do you deal with the emotional issues?

Cindy:  Because of my behind the scenes involvement at PAWS, I’ve helped receive cats with chemical burns, dogs who’ve been used as bait in fighting rings, and animals who have been left behind to starve. It is emotionally draining, there’s no denying that. But at the same time, the rewards are incredible when you see an animal begin to trust again, gain weight and thrive, or heal from burns – what a fantastic feeling that you’ve been a part of that pet’s rehabilitation and re-entry into the world! The icing on the cake is when you find that pet a great home.

Elizabeth, Frannie and Winnie

Rumpy:  I bet that is a great feeling!  Now are there any preconceived notions you had about animal rescue that have been challenged since you began to volunteer?

Cindy:  “You’ll bring them all home!” No, not true, at least in my case. I know that all the staff and volunteers truly love each and every pet at PAWS, even the crotchety ones! In 7.5 years, I’ve adopted two dogs, not so bad. Knowing that all of the pets are being adopted to the best possible homes, that not one will be euthanized to make space or because “it’s too old,” and each will be loved unconditionally until that forever home comes along – makes it a lot easier to volunteer there.

Rumpy:  Yeah, that does make a difference.  And do you have any advice for anyone thinking of volunteering at a shelter or rescue?

Cindy:  Do it and don’t hesitate like I did. The animals need your help, no matter what it is that you can do. What’s your skill? Are you a carpenter? Can you paint a wall, mow a lawn, garden, type? How’s your public speaking? Whether it’s changing a light bulb, answering phones, stuffing envelopes, sweeping a floor, or holding a scared kitten, the couple of hours you spend at a shelter will make such a difference in an animal’s life. There’s so much to be done, and so few people to help.

Rumpy:  Oh yeah!  Well, Cindy, thanks SO much for being my guest today, and thanks for all that you do to help us animals.  You guys ROCK!

Don’t forget that you can check out PAWS on Facebook by clicking here.  Here is the link to their website.  You can check out the Animal Shelter Volunteer blog for some great pics of wonderful animals looking for a forever home.  Also, check out Cindy’s blog, Scratch My Belly for more info and photos!

Click here to check out more great blogs by, for, or about animals!


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78 thoughts on “A Visit With a Shelter Volunteer Pt. 2

    1. Admittedly, it can be tough, but the rewards far outweigh the pain. And when you see those bright eyes smiling at you with trust… It’s so worth it!

  1. It takes a lot of patience and commitment to do this. There’s an organisation similar in our area of north Northumberland (UK) that’s called BARK, whose work unstintingly for the dogs and cats brought to them, finding them new homes whenever possible. Thanks for sharing this item with us 😉

  2. Awwww..Cindy, what a wonderful lady you are!!! I totally agree what you were telling us about your work. Esepcially as a volunteer under 18yrs, the things you ask them doing are great ideas!!!Then they “donated” their birthdays to PAWS…oh dog! How lovely!!! Yes, as you and Kevin said there are so many ways to help our pals who need helps, so humans should whatever they can do even if it’s a small thing. Thanks so much for a great talk for us, Cindy and Rumpy, thanks again for these Kevin and Cindy’s posts!!! 🙂

    1. Thank you! It’s amazing to see young adults giving back in such creative ways. So many kids today can get caught up in the “rush of life,” so it feels wonderful when a 10-year-old comes in with a smile a mile wide and a car filled with supplies he collected at school. If that were my kid (I just have fur babies), I’d be incredibly proud!

    1. It is! It’s truly no-kill, and takes in animals other shelters would turn away or destroy. They all need a chance, not a cold shoulder. I’m so glad to have found PAWS!

  3. Rumpy and Jen – thank you so much for featuring Kevin yesterday and us today!

    Getting the word out about volunteering is so important, and I hope we helped to ease fears about simply visiting a shelter to see what it’s about. I myself was teetering far too long before I got started volunteering and now you can’t keep me away!

    Thanks again and lots of whisker kisses to all of you!


  4. I volunteer every weekend at the Etowah Valley Humane Society working adoptions on Sunday afternoons at the Acworth (GA) Petco. I’ve also discovered there’s a hundred things I could be doing. I also do the Facebook page for the group. I’ve spent a long day washing dog towels and have also solicited fundraising dollars. Every little bit that everyone does is a tremendous help to dogs and cats in need of new homes. Kudos to you for volunteering for eight years. You’ve helped hundreds of animals in that time!

  5. Another great interview Rumpy! Me has really enjoyed your interviews with peoples who works with animals in shelters and me has learned lots! Yous ROCKS!

  6. Here again, we see how important proper socialization of the shelter dogs is to a successful, forever adoption. Thank you so much for all the fundraising, truly essential. A real encourager you are today, when my family criticizes me for adopting animals.

    1. So many people don’t realize how many cats and dogs are destroyed every year – 6-7 million adoptable animals die in our country every single year because they can’t find homes. Never let anyone criticize you for saving a life!

  7. Awesome Interview Rumpy! Cindy – I know you’ve worked with the Satos – and there were a few rough situations with them. That’s how I totally understand the behind the scenes stress – but the magic that also happens is what makes PAWS such a stand out. No other shelter would do what they do – to ensure the animals are not adopted until they are totally happy & healthy – mentally and physically. We love PAWS and will be down to visit again soon.

    1. It’s true that the last bunch of SATOs we brought in turned out to have dire health problems, but typical of PAWS, they took on the responsibility and did what they had to to save them. Sadly, we couldn’t save all of the puppies, but the ones that made it through found wonderful homes!

  8. merci Rumpydog de ta viste silencieuse sur mon blog mais oh combien apprécié !!!
    ils sont mignons tous ces petits chiens là
    bonne idée ces refuges mais il en faut les moyens j’imagine financier et humain pour pouvoir bien s’en occuper
    @bientot et encore merci
    bon week-end Rumpydog

  9. PAWS sounds like a terrific place!! My mama could not work there…she would be crying all the time!!! We admire people who can do that sort of work!!! What beautiful dogs!
    xoxo Chloe and LadyBug

  10. I so admire all the volunteers who give their time and effort to these shelters; where would the animals be without you all. Thank you.
    I love the pics, they all have such endearing faces!

  11. None of the literature I used for http://www.mypetsdoctor.com/onion-toxicity-in-dogs-and-cats mentioned any breed predispositions other than Japanese breeds. Which, of course, made me wonder about Chinese breeds, but, apparently, there is sufficient genetic diversity between them that there is no evidence that they have special considerations. Bottom line: No onions for your dog or your cat! See you at next week’s Blog Hop! Dr. Randolph.

  12. Bravo! What a wonderful interview with one of our favorite volunteers. Thank you, Rumpy and Jen, for shining the spotlight on Cindy! She’s truly amaizing, and PAWS and the animals there are so incredibly lucky to have her as a volunteer. We love you, Cindy!

  13. Yay for Cindy!! She does a HUGE amount, doesn’t she? And eight years is a lot to work in a stressful environment. Sure, it’s rewarding, but I know that ’emotionally draining’ feeling from my days working for a vet.

    And yes, it’s true, no matter what your skill, you can do something! Me, I’m not physically all that strong and I’m allergic to cats and guinea pigs, so I volunteer by running a website and doing Meet & Greets for greyhound rescue with one of my own dogs as an ambassador. It’s fun, and very rewarding.

  14. Hooray for Cindy and the no-kill shelter, Paws. I’m so glad that you featured this organization and all the hard work that Cindy does, Rumpy. Thank you for your great post! xx

  15. Absolutely amazing! I always has to raise my glass to such wonderful, giving peoples dat volunteer at shelters. It takes a lot of heart and dedication! Love da interview and how you incorporated fotos too…I be in loves with ’em all!


  16. We need more places/organizations like PAWS and more kind, loving volunteers like you interviewed. Hope you had a great weekend, Rumpy!

  17. Excellent work done by Cindy, and everyone else who volunteers. These last two interviews have really explained what a diversity of work is done by volunteers, and how it’s not always the emotional roller-coaster & tear-jerker that some of us fear.

    Good work by you too Rumpy in publicising a volunteer’s role.

    Pippa stealing Misery’s log-in

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