It takes a village, and not just “animal people!”

Animal shelters need a lot of help — and different varieties of help.  Most volunteers who walk into an animal shelter are “animal people,” and flock to spending their time walking dogs or socializing cats.  And certainly this is an important activity for shelter animal welfare.  However, in this day when animal shelters are getting smarter about business practices and are being held to higher standards of care, the needs of an animal shelter are diverse and complicated.

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As an extreme example, one of our favorite local humane organizations recently managed to open a new 15,000 square foot facility largely on the backs of volunteer labor.  While the foundation and the majority of plumbing, HVAC, and electrical were contracted, many jobs were performed by dedicated and talented volunteers.  Carpenters, craftspeople, painters — they came from all sorts of backgrounds and skills.  The work was constant and the days long, but the results are nothing short of spectacular for this small community. Led by the amazing Georgie Taylor, the Humane Society of Schuyler County and the animals in their care are certainly blessed in this holiday season. Many more pictures of the process are available at their website (http://www.schuylerhumane.org/).

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The new year is a grand time for resolutions, and a great time for recruiting new volunteers to serve what may be non-traditional roles in your shelter. Think outside the box and strategically about training new volunteers for the new year:  with guidance, volunteers can sew projects, deep clean shelter areas, plant flowers, shovel snow, write letters, make follow up phone calls, produce adoption videos, wrap surgical packs, process paperwork, recruit spay/neuter clients. . . and the possibilities go on.

And of course, when it comes to an animal shelter, everyone can raise funds!  I love to see the stories with kids who have collected donations for the animal shelter in lieu of birthday gifts.  What a fabulous way to learn the value of giving, and making a difference in your community.

Happy holidays everyone. May you find your shelter rich in determination, compassion, and gifts this season.

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