The Animal Refuge Center’s Volunteer Program has so many different opportunities, and we have spent many days planning fun ways to help for volunteers of all ages! Never again will new people have to ask, “Do you take volunteers?”
We want your first question to be, “When do I start?”
Help with Animal Refuge Center campaigns
You can help the Animal Refuge Center Find Forever Homes, no matter what part of Hardin County you live in. From helping to spread the word about the Fix at Four campaign and Get Your Fix Network to helping out at four-legged food drives, opportunities to save the lives of homeless pets abound. We have special events throughout the year, car washes, dog washes, gatherings at ARC, Freeman Lake, and Pet Adoption Days at Feeders Supply and PetSmart in Louisville.
You can make friends with the pets here in order to help write stories for our Petfinder pet adoption pages, how-to articles for our website and newsletter, and more.
Volunteer to help homeless pets
There are some surprising ways to help, too. Volunteering to organize an event may not be your thing. But maybe documenting the fun and lifesaving work through photography is. Or maybe driving an adopted animal to his new home sounds rewarding. If you’re a little older and have your own vehicle and the time to spare, hook up with This Is How We Roll and help transport pets to a new life.
Seamstresses and craftspeople! Do you have skills that would serve? Whether you create beds, pet clothing, toys, or anything at all, your unique skills can benefit homeless pets.
The Animal Refuge Center is a home-based environment for homeless pets situated in a ranch-style house in Vine Grove, Kentucky. Their capacity is about 150 cats, 8 dogs. As you might imagine, there is a lot of cleaning to do, medications to administer, and a lot of little mouths to feed. Many of the animals in our care may have been neglected or abused before they came to us, and therefore they see the Animal Refuge Center as their happy ending! That’s really not so, because it is our mission to make sure every pet finds its Forever Home. Those who can’t, for whatever reason, have sanctuary and care for as long as they need us.
Here is a typical morning in the ARC kitchen, as ARC Manager Penny Edwards tries to get everyone fed:
There are so many ways to help. Whether you help with laundry, litterboxes, feeding, sweeping and mopping, playing with the cats and dogs, grooming, petting, combing, you can rest assured that everything you do will make these homeless pets ready to find their Forever Home. Who knows? That Forever Home might be with you.
Pet Therapy for the Elderly
One of our most popular volunteer programs in the past has been our Pet Therapy for the Elderly program.
Researchers are finding that animals, especially small ones, have shown promise in helping with many conditions, both social and physical:
A Naples Community Hospital has volunteers who bring their pets to visit patients. The animals are specially trained to remain calm and must pass a “good Citizen” test before they are certified for hospital visits.
Here is a short list of conditions being helped by enlisting cats and dogs
- Pets help Alzheimer’s patients by bringing them back to the present. Specially trained pups can also help alert others that an Alzheimer’s patient has wandered into harm’s way.
“Pets can provide a measure of safety to people with the disease,” says Thomas Kirk, a vice president of a chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association.
- Children who suffer from attention deficit disorder (ADD) are able to focus on a pet, which helps them learn to concentrate.
- Mentally ill patients, or those with emotional problems, share a common bond when a cat or dog enters the room. Instead of reacting negatively to one another, it boosts morale and fosters a positive environment.
- Pets are an antidote to depression. Life in a care facility can be boring. A visit from a therapy cat or dog breaks the daily routine and stimulates interest in the world outside.
- Pets provide social interaction. In a health care facility, people come out of their rooms to socialize with the animals and with each other.
- Everyone has the need to touch. Many humans are uncomfortable hugging or touching strangers, even those close to them. Some people are alone and have no hands to hold, no bodies to hug. But rubbing the fur of a cat or dog can provide a stimulation that is sorely lacking. The nonverbal connection is invaluable in the healing process.
Dog Walking and Obedience Training
Dogs who find themselves in shelter situations are there for a number of reasons: Moving, can’t keep, lost home. Too many pets. Another of those reasons is that the dog had behavioral problems that the family could not or did not know how to solve.
Celebrated dog behaviorist Cesar Millan says on his website, Cesar’s Way: “These kinds of dogs require lots of exercise in order to burn up that excess energy and bring them back to a calm, submissive state. They also require calm, assertive Pack Leaders who will build up their self-confidence by providing protection and direction.”
To put it simply, either the dog is in charge…or you are. The Animal Refuge Center needs more assertive Pack Leaders to lead the way for our homeless dogs! We already have awesome, capable Pack Leaders like volunteer Linda Trigg and Georgia Jones who can show you the way, so we can have more wins like this:
Drus found himself at the Animal Refuge Center a number of years ago. Shy and fearful, Drus hid at the back of his kennel and was honestly one of the most devastated dogs the Animal Refuge Center had ever received. In time he would find his Forever Home, and how–!
In time Drus caught the eye of Christiane Leui, who adopted him and told us she’d love to work with him. We have had some amazing followups! Drus became an Agility Champion and now does shows with his mom. Check out this video and look at how clever he is!
We never know what kind of impact our work will have. Your volunteer work not only saves lives, you make it possible for a homeless dog to have a quality of life far beyond what they may have known before they came to us. We need volunteers for dog walking and behavior training!
And if you love cats, there are more opportunities to help out! Cats love to help our volunteers take care of chores around the shelter. There are a lot of cats and kittens at ARC, because of the Pet Overpopulation problems in our community. Some of these cats may come from bad situations, or even from decent homes that can no longer keep them. Some kittens are rescued off the streets or from feral colonies, and sometimes they respond to socialization and love to such a degree that they are able to be adopted quickly! They all need love and care–and in Dirk’s case, food–and we count on getting the word out so we can find these pets Forever Homes.
Another program we have now is Cookie’s Legacy–our grassroots effort to spay, neuter and release Hardin County’s homeless Community Cats back to the colonies where kind souls keep them warm and fed even though they are too wild to adopt into a home of their own. Between ARC and community volunteers, more than 100 feral Community Cats have been spayed, neutered and released this year, with some of the kittens able to be adopted!
We realize that this is a lot of information, especially if you just wanted to pet cats or walk dogs. That’s OK. We have had the pleasure of having so many volunteers at ARC over the years. Many of the kids we remember are grown now: they are veterinarians, doctors, nurses, and many other professions; and they all say it was their time helping out at ARC that shaped the direction they wanted to go. We can’t promise you the world, but if you love helping animals and want to learn and get involved, some homeless pets are waiting for you. Come on out and see us.
Check out more videos on our YouTube page.