Volunteering for an animal rescue is an experience that will leave paw prints on your heart forever – Ashlea Green
They love us unconditionally. They never fail to make us smile. They forgive us in an instant, no matter how badly they’ve been shouted at or hurt. Dogs are men and women’s best friends and have been for thousands of years. However, now more than ever, we are seeing our four-legged companions dumped off at shelters, abused, over bred, and neglected. Animals are not disposable and they should be loved for life. This is why it is vital for us to come together to help change these dog’s lives forever! Big or little, every bit of contribution helps. Without us, these poor animal’s lives are hopeless. We are the only voice they have.
My local dog rescue is called Big & Little Dog Ranch Rescue (BDRR) and is located in Wellington, Florida. It is a true no-kill shelter, a non-profit organization devoted to saving the lives of unwanted and neglected dogs. The shelter is host to every type of dog you can imagine; we house dogs from Chihuahuas to Great Danes. The dogs come from all over: out of state, high-kill shelters, the streets, and from owners who surrender them. There are many cases where pregnant dogs are pulled from high-kill shelters to give birth on site in a safe environment.
In 2012, BDRR’s adoptions increased 234% from the previous year. The ranch also participated in the nationwide ASPCA Rachael Ray $100K Challenge. It was during this challenge that BDRR arranged for the adoption of 524 dogs and was awarded the ‘Most Improved Shelter in the Southeast Division,’ along with a check for $15K.
The dedicated volunteers at the ranch are key to completing its day-to-day operations and they are the main reason for our adoptions. Without these volunteers, the ranch would cease to exist and would be unable to save hundreds of dogs a year.
What Can You Do to Help?
Thousands of teens across the nation volunteer at animal shelters each year. It is an easy, fun and rewarding experience to help animals in need. It can also be an effective way to obtain community service hours students may need to graduate from high school. To get started, ask your school’s guidance counselor, your local pet store, or search online to find the closest animal rescues near you. Once you have selected a shelter, visit its website, and call or stop by to fill out a volunteer application. Depending on your shelter’s volunteer guidelines, you may also have to go through a volunteer orientation.
Volunteering is absolutely necessary to saving dog’s lives. Without volunteers, animal shelters wouldn’t survive and neither would their animals. Therefore, shelters look for volunteers to help in a number of the following ways:
- Walk, feed and play with the dogs; they need exercise daily, just like we do.
- Promote and spread the word about your local shelter.
- Take pictures of available dogs and promote them on social networking sites or create a blog.
- Volunteer at adoption events hosted by your shelter.
- Provide a foster home for dogs until they are adopted and find their forever home.
- Ask your local pet store to get involved and create a supply drop box in-store for your shelter.
- Talk to other teen volunteers or friends and discuss ideas on how to raise money for your shelter (e.g. car washes, bake sales and charity events).
- Spread awareness about the dangers of puppy mills If you are willing and or able, adopt a dog!
A Teen Success Story
There are so many success stories out there, but one of the most recent from the Big & Little Dog Ranch Rescue involves one of our teen volunteers, Shyanne Mutch. Born in Cleveland, Georgia and raised in Florida, Shyanne is 18 years old and a senior in high school. For many reasons, she quickly grew tired of high school life, and opted to be home-schooled. Just like any other student, Shyanne enjoys hobbies outside of school including photography, music, fashion, and volunteering and working with dogs.
It all started when Shyanne’s dog, Aiden, passed away, leaving that empty feeling we all get when we lose someone that we love. Shyanne missed him terribly and wanted the pleasure of being surrounded by tail-wagging dogs. She first heard about the Big & Little Dog Ranch through one of the ranch’s local events and she wasted no time signing up and going through the volunteer orientation program. While in school, she volunteered a couple of times during the week and often at events on the weekends.
Being a teen volunteer has opened up many doors for Shyanne who said, “It has boosted my confidence, helped me make life-long friends, including four-legged ones, and has led me to a fantastic career at Barclay’s Dog Wash and Doggy Day Care. I see this not just as a job, but as a career. I feel that I will be here for a long time.” When asked if Shyanne would recommend volunteering to other teens, she replied, “Definitely! You get to make a huge difference and help dogs. Not just dogs, but everyone! It is a great experience and a wonderful way to meet new people. Volunteering teaches you about the real world, outside of school. It shows you what can happen to animals if they are neglected. People don’t realize the cruel endings for these animals. The dogs are helpless without us.”
When I’m not volunteering at Big & Little Dog Ranch Rescue, I’m educating potential or first time dog owners on the importance of adoption and volunteering. I help spread the word about what animal rescues stand for and why we must work together as a team to keep nature balanced. I also spend my time with our four amazing little rescue dogs, who never fail to give my family unlimited pleasure and happiness. So whether you are educating people about the importance of adopting animals, or out there volunteering for an animal shelter, every little bit helps! No animal deserves to be abused or neglected. If you have a passion for these animals, let it out and help us keep a healthy balance of all living things on Earth.
Original article published in ISFoundation.com.