Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Volunteering at the Humane Society

Last month I decided to become a volunteer at the Kitsap Humane Society.  I've gone through extensive training, and now I am a Dog Walker and Cat Cuddler.  Yes, those are official titles.  Walking those dogs is not an easy task. The dogs are so eager to get out and stretch their legs and go potty that they drag you everywhere.  My first time Dog Walking I could hardly move the next day.  But I'm getting better at it, especially now that I've learned to alternate the "pullers" with the easy-to-walk dogs (of which there are few).

I'm really impressed by the Kitsap H.S. objectives.  They care deeply for the dogs and cats in their care.  They do all in their power to rehabilitate "bad" dogs and turn them into good canine citizens.  They only euthanize animals that are so ill they cannot be cured, or if the dog is so vicious it cannot be trained. 

Many of their animals have been there for over a year, so these walks in the woods for the dogs and petting and lap time for the cats are the brightest spot in their day.  And we don't just walk the dogs.  We train them.  They invest a lot of time in making the dogs adoptable.  Almost all the training is done by volunteers who have gone through considerable training themselves.  I used to show dogs, so I have a background in dog training already.  But training methods have changed in the 30 years since I showed dogs. Everything is positive reinforcement.  No dogs are punished. It's remarkable how well the dogs respond to positive reinforcement.

Since 85% of the dogs at KHS are pit bulls or pit bull mixes, training is important.  They're one of the few humane societies in our area that accept pit bulls.  Other humane societies send us their pit bulls, and we live in an area with a high pit bull population, so training is doubly important for these dogs.  KPS has a Great Eight program, where dogs that have been there for more than 8 months have their adoption fee cut in half.  They also have asimilar Nine Lives program for their long-term cats.  In addition, these long-time residents get to go home with volunteers for short "vacations" so that they get a break from cage life. 

I'm feeling very good about the work I'm doing with KHS.  It's rewarding.  And everyone rejoices when a dog or cat gets adopted.  Now, if we could just educate the public on the importance of neutering and spaying, there wouldn't be a need for humane societies . . .

1 comment:

NinaP said...

What a cool thing to do, Sherrie! Maybe you could post a few pics of the dogs sometime.