Wild burro project seeks volunteers, adopters

The Peaceful Valley Donkey Rescue, based in San Angelo, TX, is currently working on wild burro projects in Arizona, California, and Nevada in conjunction with the federal government. Burros are a non-native species in the US and can quickly overpopulate in deserts, causing destruction to ecosystems, competition with indigenous species, and damage to Native American sites.

PVDR uses humane techniques to rescue these burros. The animals are then chipped, vetted, and then shipped to a PVDR training facility to be made ready for adoption. Burros deemed unadoptable due to medical conditions are moved to PVDR’s main facility in Texas, where they receive care for life. Burros deemed too wild or aggressive for adoption are placed on one of Peaceful Valley’s sanctuaries, where they too receive care for life.

PVDR is currently seeking adopters, and volunteers to become satellite adoption centers for PVDR. Learn more at pvdr.org.

Top 2016 OHS Volunteers Honored

René Pizzo of Oregon City gave more than 400 hours of volunteer time to help pets in 2016, winning her the OHS Volunteer of the Year Award.

OHS volunteers help in myriad ways — walking dogs, rescuing and re-homing pets, assisting shelter veterinarians, and more. Last year, more than 4,000 people contributed their time and talents to helping the animals at OHS.

“We would need 118 additional full-time employees to equal the amount of time contributed by our volunteers last year,” says Sharon Harmon, OHS Executive Director. “The compassion and commitment of OHS volunteers is truly something to bark about!”

During a ceremony in March, OHS presented awards to volunteers and one staff member (chosen by the volunteers) in 23 categories. Harmon presented the Volunteer of the Year Award to Pizzo, a Lifetime Achievement Award to Teresa Leap, and the Volunteer’s Choice Award to Denise Kinstetter. The End Petlessness Award went to Carol Christensen.  To learn more about all of the 2016 award-winning volunteers, visit oregonhumane.org/top-volunteers-2016.

Local Cat Rescue Issues Call for Helping Hands

(Vancouver, WA) Working round the clock to beat the clock, Furry Friends is putting out the word: they need all the human help they can get to make a 17-year-old dream a reality.

Thanks in part to the generosity of several private donors, the cat rescue that has rented three different homes over the years, is set to move into their own building in a central Vancouver neighborhood. The modest size house sits on a little over a half an acre of land. What is now a daunting work in progress will ultimately allow them to expand their capacity and extend their community outreach.

But the challenge faced by Furry Friends is twofold. Not only must their current Halfway House be restored to its original condition by September 30th, but they must move its 25 feline residents into their new, permanent Halfway House – completed or not -- by September 24th. And so, with two massive projects on their plate, the rescue is in urgent need of more able-bodied people to join their small, but dedicated and overworked band of volunteers.

Both properties still have extensive work to be done both outdoors and indoors. Outdoors tasks range from weeding, mowing grass, trimming foliage and replanting bushes to shoveling bark and pulling ivy. Indoors tasks range from ripping up carpeting, removing and replacing doors, cabinets and light fixtures to painting, plumbing, remodeling, cleaning and vacuuming.

For further information on how you can lend a hand, please visit www.furryfriendswa.org, email information@furryfriendswa.org or call 360-993-1097.

Founded in 1999, Furry Friends is a nonprofit, no-kill 501(c)(3) animal rescue serving Clark County. Run entirely by volunteers, their mission is to save ailing and abused, abandoned and relinquished cats by providing them with medical care and socialization, spay/neutering and shelter until they are placed in appropriate adoptive homes.

Volunteer brings big win to CAT

Cat Adoption Team is celebrating longtime volunteer Bob Anderson’s runner-up win in a recent Shelter Volunteer of the Year contest conducted by Purina Cat Chow. Anderson’s win resulted in a $5,000 donation to CAT.

In the contest, Purina Cat Chow asked its 50 shelter partners – one in every state – to nominate a volunteer who spends countless hours working to lessen the stress on the cats and kittens in the shelters’ care while awaiting forever homes. CAT nominated Anderson in honor of his tremendous sense of humor, big heart for people and cats, and for his years of service volunteering at CAT — which began just after the shelter was founded in 1998.

“Bob will do any job that benefits the cats, and do so with a smile on his face,” said Nancy Puro, volunteer manager at CAT.

Last February/March, consumers nationwide voted for their favorite volunteer story daily. Consumer votes and a judging panel determined the top shelter volunteer and runners-up. More than 272,000 votes were cast in support of the 50 nominees.

“It [was] nice to be nominated in the first place,” Bob said after learning of his win. “It gives me a good feeling inside to know that I’ve helped the kitties after all these years.”

CAT thanked everyone who voted for Bob and CAT during the contest. The $5,000 will go toward shelter renovations already underway.

Lifelong supporter becomes one of the pack at Best Friends

Nearly 30 years ago, after reading about their work in the newspaper, Jane Blyth wrote a check for 15 dollars and mailed it to Best Friends Animal Sanctuary.  Money was tight for the single mother, but she was inspired by the rescue’s work and wanted to help. For the next 30 years, Blythe followed the work of Best Friends. This past spring, she decided to fulfill a lifetime dream by not only visiting the Sanctuary, but spending several days there volunteering with the rabbits, cats and dogs. Blythe traveled with her 13-year-old granddaughter, Alexis, who earned the nickname Cat Whisperer thanks to the affect she had on special needs felines in residence. While there, the volunteer vacationers held animal sleepovers, and took several pets to their hotel room during the day for a break from the sanctuary. “We’d have taken a horse if we could have gotten away with it,” Blythe says. 

The trip was deeply memorable for 78-year-old Blythe, who is looking forward to returning. “A part of my heart is there now, so I have to return,” she says. In the meantime, Blythe will continue volunteering at Cat Depot, a Best Friends No More Homeless Pets Network partner, in her hometown of Sarasota, Florida.

Volunteers needed for new feline spay/neuter program


The Apartment Cat Team (ACT) is seeking volunteers to be part of an innovative effort to reduce feral cat populations in Multnomah County.  ACT is a collaborative partnership between the Feral Cat Coalition of Oregon and Multnomah County Animal Services that works with managers and tenants of low-income and subsidized apartment complexes and mobile home parks.  ACT offers free or low-cost spay/neuter services to cats in these homes, as well as stray and feral cats in the neighborhoods.

Volunteers are needed to trap cats on location and transport them to and from surgery, and also to help socialize young feral kittens so they can find forever, loving homes.  Ann Potter, program specialist at MCAS, says that new volunteers have been inspired by the groundbreaking aspects of the work.  “People are getting charged up,” she says.  “If you want to get in there, get physical and get a little dirty, this is that opportunity.”  Potter points out that flexibility is required, as feral cats don’t keep a schedule.  “We’ve had trappers out at 9:00 at night because that’s when cats are feeding.”  Sound like fun?  Contact Ann.D.Potter@MultCo.us for more information.

Volunteering Does Pay


It’s never too late to follow your dreams.  Time is a resource we all have, and utilizing it to the max opens the way to breathtaking experiences.  Wonders truly reside in the challenges of undiscovered horizons.  There is so much to life, often much more than people realize. 

We all have hidden talents, yet so of us few realize it, or allow our mysterious, whimsical sides to be revealed to the outside world.  Human nature is comfortable with the known; however, there is much to be had in those uncharted territories.

Just imagine yourself as an octopus . . . you have this body with all these legs to reach out and discover different things and places.  If you don't use them to explore, your potential to witness many sights and situations will never become a reality.

No one should cut themselves short in life!  In those moments when we pause and ask ourselves . . . “I wonder if I could do that?”. . . we should not stop there, but instead embrace the challenge, expend the energy, and find out what life is like upon our next achievement.  Our life journey is what we make of it, and the more we strive the more previously unimagined feats prevail. 

I grew up with all species of family pets.  I was that kid who found creatures and brought them home as pets:  turtles and crayfish, salamanders, etc.  I’ve always deeply loved animals and all living creatures.  

Not surprisingly, early on I wanted to become a veterinarian.  So I obtained a BS in Animal Science, and went to work with a veterinarian for the experience, to help determine if this was my future career.  The small animal veterinarian I worked for was very kind, but not a strong communicator.  I could see that clients were frustrated and fearful in trying to understand his medical jargon. 

Soon I lost heart with this and ventured on to participate in animal research at the local medical school.  I had the opportunity and enjoyed assisting in two manuscripts on physiology.  During this time a professor suggested I apply to medical school to become a physician.  I listened and cautiously considered the idea, but a little voice in my head said, “You’re not smart enough to get into medical school.”

My late father was a great optimist, and a favorite expression was, “You’ll never know if you don't T-R-Y it.”  This was accompanied by bits about learning from our mistakes, that if we didn’t try new things we’d never make mistakes, and therefore learn or grow.  He championed the idea that we must always T-R-Y and pursue adventures in life.  Otherwise, we’ll never know everything we could and can do.  

So, guided by my father’s words, I applied, was accepted into and completed to medical school in Wisconsin.  Wanting to practice in a beautiful area, I moved to the Pacific Northwest and practiced pediatric medicine for nearly 20 years.

I married a native Oregonian and we have a daughter, along with our extended furry family members and a box turtle.

Three years ago my then eighth-grade daughter chose to work at an animal shelter as part of a required project.  Parental accompaniment was required, and while the time commitment was a stretch I believed in volunteering and knew it would strengthen our relationship, which of course it did.  We worked in the cattery at Multnomah County Animal Services eight hours per month, learning about this new world, playing with cats and helping potential adopters find their perfect match.  We enjoyed the experience so much we’re still volunteering there today.

It’s a known fact that helping others evokes happiness, and not only do I get complete satisfaction from helping others, but also from my memories.  My experiences from volunteering with my daughter were so wonderful, today I volunteer at two animal facilities.  Shelters have a tremendous impact in our community, and the experience has immeasurably boosted my happiness in life.  I wonder at how both of these volunteer experiences brought me back full circle to my true love for animals, which fills me with a magical happiness words can’t fully express.

Denise Kinstetter accepting the 2011 "New Best Friend" volunteer award (shown with Sharon Harmon)

Denise Kinstetter accepting the 2011 "New Best Friend" volunteer award (shown with Sharon Harmon)

Sometimes I wonder about the animals’ stories — who and where they were before arriving at the shelter.  And while my heart aches to see them homeless, it fuels me to give them security, comfort and safety while working to find them forever loving homes.

My heartfelt commitment and satisfaction in helping animals and people is endless.  My main volunteer hours are now devoted to the cattery at Oregon Humane Society and its Spay & Save program, which enables low-income individuals to obtain spay/neuter services for as low as $10 per surgery.  The program not only prevents unwanted litters, it helps us save cats' lives by helping decrease unwarranted euthanasia rates.  Spaying and neutering not only addresses the cat overpopulation crisis, but it also promotes longevity for owned cats by eliminating many known potential cancers.

I've always been driven and thrive on experiencing the power of self-improvement.  Every time I volunteer at the cattery, I T-R-Y to adopt at least three kitties per shift.  Usually I not only meet but exceed my goal, sending three to six furry friends to loving homes.

Volunteering allows people to follow their passions and dreams, and to experience the reciprocal effects of giving many-fold.  Treasured stories and memories will be in my head and heart forever!  And while I've helped adopt out several hundred cats, there’s a handful that left an everlasting impression.  These amazing felines all needed to get out of the jail-like, entrapped environment and back to being themselves — basking in the sun in their favorite spot in a place called home.  

One of my first triumphs was with Sally, a six-year-old black and white short-hair with diabetes.  Sally was extremely sick on arrival and required care in the ICU.  Treatment and diet returned her to health, but she would require a strict dietary regimen all her life. 

There came a wonderful elderly couple ready to adopt after several months of grieving their beloved cat of 19 years.  They wanted to help a cat in need, one who would otherwise have a hard time getting adopted.  We talked about Sally, who had “earned” a longest resident ribbon.  I told them she would be a huge commitment with extra daily responsibilities.  They wanted to learn more and meet her, and ultimately it was a match made in heaven.  

Not only were these folks excited as they filled out the adoption papers, Sally was too!  She didn't want to return to her cage to wait.  I helped with the adoption beginning to end, and was ecstatic as I walked the couple to their car with Sally and her care packages.

Another momentous adoption was Scotty, a 14-year-old Tortie who arrived at OHS as half of a bonded pair whose person had recently died.  While many volunteers hoped they would be adopted together, they weren’t.  Buddy went home first, and shortly thereafter Scotty starred on an OHS telethon.

About two weeks later, a woman arrived who wanted a cat with special needs or who really needed a home.  She had two senior and one young adult cat and a big cat-friendly home.  I told her about Scotty’s situation, then introduced them.  The woman fell in love with this cat who was not just older, but also required a special diet to sustain her kidney function.  Their meeting was magnetic and touching.

After just 15 minutes, decision and preparation was made for Scotty to go to her wonderful new forever home.  This was a phenomenal adoption and sharing it with co-volunteers I shed joyful tears.  It's moments like these you feel your heart swell and know that others can see your joy.

Denise loving a kitty at OHS

Denise loving a kitty at OHS

In our very dynamic world today we all need to set tiny goals, achieve them, and savor the success and personal growth.  Being driven to master our beliefs means “we will do it” versus “we’ll think about doing it.”  Automatically we then set slightly higher goals . . . and watch our entire lives change and grow.  

I see these concepts thrive with co-volunteers, helping to facilitate the shelters’ success, manifesting continual noticeable growth and empowerment throughout the shelter, and the people within it.

Interestingly, recent statistics show that volunteers in Portland, OR rank second in the nation only to Minneapolis-St. Paul, MN.  Not surprising:  many people in the Northwest are down-to-earth proponents of change.  

As a volunteer member of OHS, I feel the unity between staff and volunteers at this state-of-the-art nonprofit.  I believe the cohesive meshing and networking at OHS possesses the necessary enthusiasm to successfully support its annual goals, set even higher standards, and follow the mission. 

Some say love and money bring happiness.  I say being happy is a CHOICE.  Our economy may be in crisis, but I see Portlanders evolving into a more compassionate species.  People out of work are volunteering, giving them not only something to do with their time but a more optimistic outlook on life and improved self-worth.  

Please don't let life pass you by without experiencing the intangible, priceless treasure of volunteering. 

You cannot lose by volunteering; it's a win-win phenomenon.  Remember my father’s words — you'll never know if you don't T-R-Y something.  Volunteering is a fabulous, hopeful, contagious addiction.  Expand your world, discover new horizons, and truly get more out of life!

It’s never too late to chase your dreams and passions, and you’ll live more fulfilled as you experience uncharted avenues through volunteering — avenues that promise true, enduring happiness.  

By Denise Kinstetter

Speaking of volunteers


OHS volunteers were honored in 27 categories at the Diamond Collar Awards Feb. 23, including Volunteer of the Year (Eldon Loewe), the End Petlessness Award (Sandy Heusch), and the Lifetime Achievement Award (Laura Klink).  “The dedication and compassion of these volunteers helped OHS find homes for 11,521 pets last year,” said OHS Executive Director Sharon Harmon.  “We could not have done it without them.”  Thanks and congratulations to all the winners — meet them all at OregonHumane.org

Your volunteer time is appreciated

Kitty Kisses for volunteering © CAT

Kitty Kisses for volunteering © CAT

Are you one of the 33 percent?

That’s the percentage of Oregonians who volunteer.

Since you love animals, or you wouldn’t be reading Spot, I encourage you to experience the joy of volunteering to help this community’s pets.

When you volunteer, you are not in a vacuum.  You meet interesting people, discover new friendships, enjoy a sense of accomplishment, learn new skills, and come away with great stories to tell friends and family.  Sometimes you get fed, earn a t-shirt, or receive a shopping discount (depending on where you volunteer). 

Last year nearly 64.3 million people volunteered across the country.  Of those, 30 percent were women, 32 percent were married, most were between 35 and 55 years old, and 75 percent were employed (according to the US Department of Labor).  VolunteeringInAmerica.gov ranks Oregon 14th among all states in volunteering:  33 percent of Oregonians volunteer and donate 115.9 million hours of service.

National Volunteer Appreciation week arrives later this month.  For organizations that rely heavily on volunteers, appreciating volunteers is a daily opportunity.  Without the hours donated, smaller organizations could not do the good work they do.  Here are just a few suggestions for wonderful organizations in need of helping hands:

  •          Be part of a fence building work party for Fences for Fido, making sure dogs stay safe in their yards.  Details FencesForFido.org.
  •         Take an energetic dog out for a jog through Oregon Humane Society’s Running Team.  Details OregonHumane.org.
  •         Hand out cat food to low-income cat owners through Cat Adoption Team’s Cat Food Bank.  Details CatAdoptionTeam.org.
  •         Offer the healing presence of animals in a therapeutic setting through the Humane Society of SW Washington’s pet-facilitated therapy.  Details SouthwestHumane.org.
  •         Foster a litter of kittens, walk dogs, answer phones, stuff envelopes, clean kennels, promote adoptions, or take photos at your neighborhood rescue or shelter.  All shelters need your help.
Volunteer greets kitty at CAT © Lamm Photography

Volunteer greets kitty at CAT © Lamm Photography

Every organization/shelter has regular volunteer orientations to provide training and information.

Like the words of musician Jewell, “my hands are small, I know.  Meet likeminded folks and do good work for the animals of this community.  Volunteer; we greatly appreciate it!

Behind the scenes at Best Friends Animal Sanctuary

The 2000-acre Best Friends Animal Sanctuary is just outside of Kanab, the southernmost part of Utah, a beautiful landscape of red rock desert canyons, breathtaking rivers and lush greenery.  Best Friends cares for dogs, horses, goats, cats, birds, burros, rabbits and a few farm animals.  The staff cares for an average of 1700 animals each day, working tirelessly to uphold the sanctuary’s gold star standard.