Bill Clossey

Spirit arrived at the shelter just before Valentine’s Day, limping and in pain.  The 8 month old brown tabby had a broken hip and required a procedure called Femoral Head Ostectomy, which removes the top of the femur, the part of the thigh bone that fits into the hip joint. Spirit came back from the vet with strict instructions to completely restrict his activity for a month, with a long rehabilitation to follow.

And that’s when this lucky feline hit the jackpot. Spirit went into foster care with Bill Clossey, and has been recuperating and enjoying life with this dedicated volunteer, and his wife, ever since. Soon he was playing with low-impact toys purchased just for him, and lounging on Bill’s iPad watching cat videos. He “swaggers like a drunken sailor,” reports Bill, but Spirit is getting stronger and more mobile every day, and is “the sweetest cat I’ve ever met.”

Soft-spoken, patient and kind, Bill has cared for some of St. Hubert's most challenging cats; special needs and behavior cases are his specialty. In addition to fostering, he also has a regular shift cleaning in the cattery, and even buffs the shelter’s floors (the closest he’s ever gotten to operating a Zamboni, he says wryly.)

Bill grew up with dogs and cats, and when he first started volunteering at St. Hubert’s he thought he wanted to walk dogs. But as he spent time at the shelter he found he was more drawn to the cats. “They are amazingly adaptive,” he says. He appreciates the passion that staff brings to their care, and staff loves when he is in the cattery.

Bill and his wife travel a lot, so he doesn’t think it would be fair to adopt right now. But when he’s home he helps out as much as he can. And as a foster and volunteer Bill has made an enormous difference to so many.

 

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The Swotinskys

Mark Swotinsky enjoys his role as greeter in the front lobby, but he finds the gritty work of cleaning kennels even more satisfying. Mark and his wife, Arlene, like to be involved in activities that directly impact the dogs, and a clean, sparkling kennel is its own reward. One of Arlene’s favorite spots is the laundry room; she knows that washing and drying towels and blankets ensures that each animal will always have the comfort of a clean, soft bed while they wait to be adopted. They both like knowing that the time they spend on these vital tasks frees up staff to spend more time with the animals.

Mark retired in 2016 and St. Hubert’s was lucky to get him in November that year. Arlene got involved a few months later and this warm, low-key couple have been dedicated volunteers ever since.

Their volunteer activities definitely don’t end with cleaning and laundry. Mark is an avid dog walker, and both he and Arlene love to interact with people as well. They have taken dogs to adoption events (and were gratified when the pups were quickly adopted). They also help at offsite fundraising events: Santa Paws, Dine with a Dog and the 5K race are among their favorites. And they enjoy being part of of the “crowd” at Paws for People therapy dog evaluations.

One of their favorite, most exhausting, and most rewarding volunteer roles is as dog fosterers.  First up was a momma and six adorable, wiggly puppies they brought home a few weeks before Christmas last year. Keeping up with- and outsmarting- the puppies kept them on their toes, and they fell in love with the pups’ patient and placid mom, Belinda. The puppies were all adopted immediately after Mark and Arlene brought them back just before Christmas. They were ready to bring Belinda back home with them so she wouldn’t have to spend the holidays at the shelter, but she quickly found a home as well.  They provided critical enrichment to their next foster, Jenny; she too was quickly adopted after being in their care. St. Hubert’s Foster Coordinator Kat is confident that when the Swotinskys take on a foster dog, that dog will be in devoted, loving hands.

Mark and Arlene love St. Hubert’s and the people they’ve met here. And the feeling is definitely mutual.

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Mark Lovretin

It’s a cold March afternoon and a fierce wind is blowing, but Mark Lovretin and 9 month old Rocket are both looking happy and relaxed. They’ve just returned from a brisk 3+ mile walk on the trails around St. Hubert’s, and this energetic pit mix pup will sleep well tonight.

Because of his breed and energy level, Rocket may need a little help getting adopted, and that makes him exactly the kind of dog Mark loves to walk and advocate for. In addition to letting Rocket work off his puppy energy, Mark carefully observes his reaction to other dogs, bicyclists, kids, etc., and will be able to offer valuable insight to staff and potential adopters. He also works on basic obedience training. Countless dogs have benefited from his care and attention.

Mark started volunteering at St. Hubert’s in 2009. His cat had passed away and he was thinking about adopting another, so helping out in the cattery was a natural fit.  A talented photographer, Mark began taking pics of the cats and serving as a feline adoption counselor. A few years later he added dog walking to his expanding volunteer role, and became lead volunteer photographer. He also serves as a dog walking mentor for new volunteers. All this plus a full-time job at PSE&G.

Growing up with both cats and dogs, Mark loves them equally. (One early pic includes the cat sharing his crib and another shows Mark on the ground, flattened by the family dog). He soldiers though a slight allergy to cats, and counsels other mildly allergic volunteers that spending time with cats can actually help. He has three at home.

Mark is an exceptional volunteer and an effective and compassionate advocate who is always willing to go the extra mile for the animals at St. Hubert’s. We are lucky to have him!

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