“A good deed is its own reward.” You’ve heard the adage a million times, but it is never truer than when you’re a dog comforting your human–or when you’re a human volunteer taking care of furry friends. High school freshman Lucy Parker began volunteering at Animal Care and Protective Services, because she felt she had something to offer. She would be able to give back to the community by spending time with dogs and cats that needed love and attention. Little did she know how life changing the experience would be.
Davi: Why did you start volunteering at ACPS?
Parker: I needed community service volunteer hours to qualify for a college scholarship, and I love working with animals. I stumbled upon ACPS, which was one of the only places that would allow 14-year-olds to work one-on-one with the animals. Plus, it’s very close to my house. I attended an orientation, got a background check, and a few weeks later, I got an email saying I was all set.
What’s a typical day like for you at the shelter?
My typical day varies. When I arrive, I like to see which area of the shelter needs the most help. I usually help with dog walking, but if most of the dogs have already been taken care of, I help with cat adoptions or the surgical team.
Which volunteer job is your favorite?
Dog walking is my favorite, because I love playing with the dogs and watching their personalities come out in the play yard.
What are the most rewarding parts about volunteering with animals?
The most rewarding part of volunteering is when I get to see some of the animals I have worked with getting adopted.
What is the most challenging aspect of being a volunteer?
The hardest part of volunteering at the shelter is not being able to adopt them all myself, because they are all so sweet.
What do you wish more people knew and understood about animal shelters?
Whenever you go into the dog areas, they get really excited in their kennel and sometimes jump and bark, but that turns off a lot of people. I wish that people would understand that the dogs don’t act the same way when they are outside of their kennels. Sometimes, the jumpiest dogs in their kennels are the sweetest, calmest dogs when you take them outside, away from all the noise.
What would you say to other individuals who want to help animals?
If you love animals, then I recommend volunteering at ACPS. The animals, staff and other volunteers are all so sweet. Once you start volunteering, you won’t want to stop.
Because most young people are naturally fond of animals, they are likely to be interested in how they can help dogs, cats and other shelter pets. Volunteering to help animals find or reconnect with loving homes empowers students to influence their communities in a positive, animal-friendly way. Students have a chance to witness firsthand the positive impact they can have on their communities by caring for animals in need—and that is its own reward.