Volunteering For A Haven

As a Shasta High School student planning for my future, I found volunteer work to be an essential part of my application for college admission. After conversations with my friends, I decided to take the initiative and start volunteering. When searching for a place to offer my time, Haven Humane Society became a top choice because of my interest in a future career working with animals. Following my research, I chose to devote my time volunteering at Haven Humane Society.

My first few days spent at Haven Humane Society gave me a feel for what the facility had to offer. The staff made me feel welcome and the colorful kennels brightened the atmosphere for both the canines and myself. After spending some time there, I discovered various programs and began to learn about my own interactions with animals and how to interact properly with them.

There is always something new to learn from being around animals and other animal stewards, even if the jobs seem mundane. I thought I knew animals before I volunteered at Haven Humane Society; however, I learned a significant amount in the first few weeks. Though what I had previously known about canine behavior was correct, I was only aware of a small piece of the whole.

Before volunteering and learning about animals, I observed the behavior of my black Labrador/Golden Retriever and only partially understood reasons for her behavior. Now I am able to gauge her body language, as well as an unknown animal’s disposition, well enough to respond appropriately. For example, when a canine sits at the back of a kennel with an averted gaze, tucked tail and slight tremors of fear, I know how to approach. I get down to the canine’s level facing sideways, do not elicit eye contact, and invite the canine to enjoy a few treats. I was previously unaware how important body positioning is to canines before coming to Haven Humane Society as a volunteer.

For over two years now I have volunteered at Haven Humane Society as a regular volunteer. I have participated in and joined several programs including Junior Haven, Camp-Love-A-Pet, STAR training and fundraiser events.

One fundraiser I participated in was Haven Humane Society’s Dog-A-Thon, an annual fundraiser where canines and their owners can participate in various activities, including parading and walking on the Robert Timone Pet Walking Trail. This festival allows owners to demonstrate their well-behaved dogs’ training in various competitions, including a kissing, tail wagging and smiling contest. (Some dogs do smile!) During the walk sponsors give demonstrations of canine activities such as fly ball. Volunteers direct parking at the event, answer questions and assist with other necessary tasks, such as filling water buckets for the dogs.

The majority of the canines attending are adopted pets of all breeds whose owners rescued them from Haven Humane Society in the past. Dogs up for adoption stay within the facility during this festival. There are also dogs at this event that have never seen the inside of a kennel. I brought my own dog last year to advance her socialization skills.

Being a volunteer is rewarding, a cliché, but true. Not only have I gained experience, but also a sense of accomplishment by helping to train and prepare animals for adoption. Haven Humane Society benefits from volunteer work by saving funds for outreach programs, new facilities, spays and neuters and more. Haven Humane Society volunteers give time, energy and support, and they advocate for the rights of animals in the community.

As a volunteer, my experience at Haven Humane Society has taught me more than I ever expected. Initially I planned to give my time and energy to a cause I support but did not anticipate the wealth of information and experience I can now take with me throughout my life. I could not have chosen a better place to volunteer and grow.

About Christine Koenig

Christine Koenig is an 18-year-old senior at Shasta High School in Redding. She will attend California Polytechnic University San Luis Obisbo in the fall. Even though her hand was once slammed in an animal patrol van, she continues to love volunteering.

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