Ron Vrabel

If you come across Ron Vrabel wearing a mud-splattered volunteer t-shirt and a big smile, it probably means he has just spent the morning at one of his favorite spots: St. Hubert’s Doggy Day Camp. Ron volunteers there two mornings a week, helping staff wrangle up to 30 dogs at a time and making sure everyone is happy and safe. An aspiring dog trainer himself, Ron thinks there is no better place to observe dog behavior. “So many interesting things happen. I love to see how the dogs behave around each other; the dynamics are amazing,” he says. He drops off his own dog, Daisy, for camp one day a week when he is not volunteering.

Doggy Day Camp staff greatly appreciate Ron’s commitment, reliability and affinity for the dogs. “The dogs all love him, and run up to the fence when he arrives. He is part of us,” says staff member Terri.

A volunteer since 2016, Ron has cleaned kennels, helped with transports, and enjoys walking dogs at the shelter. He gravitates towards the bigger, higher energy ones who may be having trouble adjusting to the kennel environment. He takes them for much-needed long walks, into the play yards, or out “swamping.” He is out for an hour or more, and the lucky dog always looks happy and relaxed afterward.

Ron also assists the behavior team with morning playgroups, which assess the sociability of dogs and provide a valuable way for them to expend energy and reduce their frustration. Playgroups offer Ron another great opportunity to observe canine dynamics. “There are so many opportunities to interact with the animals at St. Hubert’s,” he says, “so much care and feeding here.”

Ron V. DDC.jpg

Beth Margerison

When Beth Margerison dropped off some donations at St. Hubert’s five years ago, adopting a dog was the last thing on her mind. But while at the shelter that day she spotted an adorable Redtick Coonhound, and after thinking about it overnight Beth returned the next day-- in the middle of a snowstorm-- to bring Sophie home.

She retired a couple of years later, and when she decided she was ready to commit to a schedule again, filled out an application to volunteer at St. Hubert’s. In the nine months since then, Beth has become invaluable. A fan of doing laundry, each week she cheerfully brings order to the chaos that is the laundry room. She assists Community Care Manager Jennifer Gregory with the voluminous paperwork generated by community vaccine clinics.  And her cookies, brownies and coffee cake have become famous around the shelter. “Beth is awesome!” says Jennifer. “Not only is she a jack of all trades when it comes to helping in the office, but she is an amazing baker as well!”

Beth, who shares her home with 8 year old Sophie and Riley, a 3 year old Great Pyrenees/Lab mix, says she enjoys the flexibility of volunteering at St. Hubert’s, as well as the people she has met here. “I like that I’m doing stuff that is really helping; I feel appreciated.”

Beth M.jpg

Clare Murphy

Clare Murphy was looking forward to starting her volunteering as a kennel attendant at St. Hubert’s in February of last year. She, her husband, and their rescued 7 year old boxer/lab mix Dolly had recently moved to the U.S. from England, where Clare had volunteered and then worked at a large animal shelter.  But a slip on the ice resulted in a broken wrist that put her kennel cleaning plans on hold. Not deterred, Clare offered to help with administrative tasks in the volunteer office, where she worked quickly and efficiently to clean up the database. Once her wrist was healed Clare turned her attention to the kennels, and she has been a valued twice-a week-volunteer there ever since. Enthusiastic, warm and friendly, with a charming English accent to boot, Clare has become a favorite of kennel staff. She is also a welcoming presence to new volunteers arriving for their first kennel shifts, graciously guiding them through the cleaning process, one that she genuinely enjoys.  “I love leaving the dogs with a lovely, clean kennel,” she says. “It gives me a lot of joy.”

Clare’s volunteering extends beyond kennel cleaning. She also walks dogs and supports adopters with follow-up phone calls. But her heart is in the kennel, and she’s been impressed with the cleanliness of the shelter (due in no small part to volunteers like Clare!) and the quality of care the animals receive. “The staff really care, and they are there for the right reasons. And it’s a friendly, great place to hang out!”

Clare Murphy.jpg

Tom Cresong

When Tom Cresong signed up his Catahoula mix puppy Luna for puppy kindergarten at St. Hubert’s he had no idea that he would soon become an indispensable volunteer. But as Luna graduated into more advanced training classes and Tom saw how much was going on at the shelter, he decided he wanted to get more involved.

 After about a month working hard alongside staff cleaning kennels, Tom volunteered to help with St. Hubert’s new Field Trip program. Through this program, members of the public can drop by the shelter any day of the week, fill out a questionnaire designed to gauge their comfort level with different size/strength dogs, and take out a suitable one for an outing. Field trips can last an hour, an afternoon or the whole day, and have proved to be a valuable way to get people into the shelter, gather more information about adoptable dogs, and allow St. Hubert’s to more effectively “market” them with compelling photos and videos. It’s also led to a number of adoptions.

Since November Tom has served as Field Trip Coordinator on Sundays, handling paperwork, matching up participants with dogs and preparing them for their outing by “dressing” them in a harness, collar and Adopt Me vest. Sundays can be very hectic and dogs can be exuberant, but Tom is always calm and smiling, a welcoming presence in the front lobby. He has facilitated many of the more than 300 field trips logged so far. We are very grateful for Tom’s help, and to his dog Luna for bringing him to St. Hubert’s!

Tom C and Fatboi.jpg

Tara Myers

When Tara Myers moved back to NJ from Illinois, finding an animal shelter where she could volunteer was high on her to-do list. Tara had been volunteering at shelters for many years, and even with a growing family to care for she was determined to continue helping out.

That was three years ago, and since then Tara has been a dedicated volunteer at St. Hubert’s; you can find her almost every Sunday morning cleaning in the kennels. It’s not easy work, but Tara puts on her rubber boots and gets the job done quietly and efficiently. She has devoted more than 400 hours to keeping the dogs comfortable and healthy. She cleaned until she was seven months pregnant with her second child, and resumed her Sunday morning shift not long after his birth. She is, not surprisingly, a favorite of the kennel staff.

When she can, Tara also helps at vaccine clinics. She enjoys talking to people at the clinics and seeing firsthand how grateful they are to receive help for their pets; she appreciates being part of a community outreach effort where the feedback is “so positive.”

Tara often stops by the shelter with her 5 year old daughter, who loves the cats.  And it makes her happy to check out who’s been adopted since her last visit. This busy wife, mother and dog owner (a 50 lb. mix named Tallulah) likes “being part of something big,” and is glad she found St. Hubert’s.  We are glad she did too.

 

Tara M.jpg

Lynn Seguin

Shortly after retiring from a career in consulting back in 2015, Lynn Seguin filled out an online volunteer interest survey she’d seen on the State of NJ website. She’d been thinking about what to do next, so when she was contacted by St. Hubert’s volunteer coordinator in response to the survey Lynn decided to give helping out at the shelter a try.  

Lynn began by volunteering as a greeter. A few months later she heard that Buddy’s Boutique was looking for help, and it was there she found just the right fit. This month marks Lynn’s 3 year anniversary at Buddy’s. A steadfast Wednesday volunteer, Lynn enjoys working with Buddy’s manager, Karen Brennan, and thinks Karen has done “a lot of good things at the store.” Karen is grateful for Lynn’s commitment to Buddy’s, and says that, in addition to being “extremely nice,” Lynn “has a great handle on all of our products and helps keep me up to date on items we need to restock.”

Though she has had dogs for much of her life, Lynn feels she now travels too much to have one at home. But she likes to support the shelter by purchasing gifts in Buddy’s for her sister’s cats and dog toys for her friends’ dogs. And she particularly enjoys when adopters come into Buddy’s with their new family member: “I get to see all the happy people.”

Lynn S.jpg

Mary Lynn Malaby

You may not have seen Mary Lynn Malaby around the Madison shelter, but you have almost certainly seen her work. A valuable and creative behind-the-scenes volunteer, Mary Lynn designs many of the great looking promotional flyers, invitations and other documents that St. Hubert’s uses to get out the word about its events and services.

 Mary Lynn first came to St. Hubert’s about 15 years ago to adopt a cat. Several years later she began helping out in the volunteer office and with fundraising events. She was a key player in the creation of Buddy’s Boutique, a task she found particularly rewarding because the net profits from the store would directly benefit the animals in St. Hubert’s care.

 The St. Hubert’s development team spotted her talent, and Mary Lynn began creating flyers. When asked to create one, often on short notice, the former project manager for an investment banking/brokerage firm is always happy to help, and the flyers never disappoint.

 Mary Lynn is surprised where her volunteering has taken her. “When I first visited St. Hubert's all those years ago, I never dreamed I would become as involved (or stay as long) as I have.  I've been lucky to work with many of their amazing staff, other volunteers, and to see the facility evolve into a state-of-the-art shelter able to save many more pets than when I started!...I've heard it often, but have learned first-hand that it's so true:  I get back much more from volunteering that I give.”

 

ML w Tillie.JPG

Andi Charles

Andi Charles considered herself a dog person well into her 20s. But it was a cat named Willie, adopted from St. Hubert’s in 1991, that got her involved at the shelter.  A few years after adopting Willie, Andi decided she wanted to volunteer. She remembers that Saturdays at the shelter were “a mob scene.” There wasn’t yet a structured volunteer program in place, so Andi would show up with freshly baked cookies or cake for the busy staff and ask, “What can I do to help?” She cleaned cages, started walking dogs, and did anything else that was asked of her.

Her compassion for, and dedication to, the cats grew, and with encouragement from staff Andi launched Feline Friends. She created a schedule and a newsletter, and trained volunteers. Two of them, Dawn Kleinfield and Amy Tefft, also went on to become some of St. Hubert’s most dedicated volunteers.

Amy remembers meeting Andi in October of 2008 when she came to the shelter to adopt a cat. “Our amazing adoption counselor was Andi.  Her respectful stewardship of the animal/human bond made such a positive impression that, a few months later, I became a volunteer!”

Staff eventually assumed responsibility for running the Feline Friends program, but Andi’s dedication to cats, dogs and wildlife continued. She took an ACO course, volunteered in wildlife rehab, fostered (and foster failed), served as an adoption counselor and helped at numerous St. Hubert’s fundraisers, and took shelter cats and dogs for regular appearances on “The Pet Stop,” a half-hour weekly television show hosted by veterinarian (and St. Hubert’s board member) Dr. Brian Voynick.

Recently, Andi has enjoyed spending time walking dogs again. (She’s pictured here with Sparkette, who is still waiting for a home.) She appreciates that she can come to St. Hubert’s and indulge her love for both cats and dogs. And the cats and dogs at St. Hubert’s benefit greatly from her loving attention.

Andi says, “Volunteering at St. Hubert's has given me many opportunities to express my love for animals, including the ones I've adopted. I've met many people through the years and some have become lifelong friends. I hope I'm able to continue volunteering for many more years.”

Everyone at St. Hubert’s hopes so as well.

Andi Charles.jpg

Sheila Johns

When Sheila Johns retired she knew she wanted to spend her time volunteering with animals. That was in 2007, and dogs at the North Branch shelter have benefited from her attention, skill and empathy ever since.

A lifelong dog owner, Sheila has always been on their wave length. (“Easier than my kids!” she jokes.) She’s a canine coach (a designation for the most experienced North Branch volunteers) who has worked closely with St. Hubert’s trainers. Sheila enjoys spending her time with the more challenging dogs to help increase their chance for adoption. And she appreciates the care they receive from staff and volunteers alike. She likes that the staff treat each animal as an individual and try to meet his/her needs.When her daughter had to surrender her own two dogs, Sheila knew they would be well cared for as they waited to be adopted.

Most recently she has taken an interest in Salvatore, with whom she is pictured here. Since St. Hubert’s instituted a dog field trip and short term foster program, this lucky senior has gone for walks in the park with Sheila and home with her as well.

The staff at North Branch appreciates Sheila’s professionalism and that she takes her role seriously.  Manager Pam Fyfe says, “She is very observant when it comes to dogs that need extra attention on the leash, and works with them on listening to their handler. Sheila is an awesome canine coach; she cares so much about what she does.”

Sheila J.jpg

Glynis Burgdorff

Forty nine and counting; that’s the number of lives Glynis Burgdorff, one of St. Hubert’s dedicated and hardworking fosters, has saved since she started fostering last November. “I’m the woman who can’t say no to puppies,” she laughs. (A few of them are pictured below.)

An experienced foster already when she began volunteering for St. Hubert’s, Glynis quickly became indispensable. Not all fosters are able or willing to handle the demands of momma dogs and puppies, but Glynis told St. Hubert’s foster coordinator, Kat Thorpe, at the outset, “Do not hesitate to call me.” Kat, who gets requests almost daily from overwhelmed partner shelters in the south to take pregnant and nursing dogs, took Glynis at her word.

Glynis has fostered litters of 5, 8, 10 puppies. She’s cared for a tiny one struggling with giardia and kennel cough, kept her hydrated, nourished and swaddled her round-the-clock and didn't leave her side until she was on the mend. (“Glynis literally saved her life,” says Kat.) She has sat with a dog through a long labor; the mom finally began delivering with her head in Glynis’ lap. Glynis has slept in the room with newborn puppies, sometimes waking up to a small nose nuzzling her.

Warm and gregarious, this mother of five grown children has always relished the caregiver role. Glynis grew up with horses, goats, cats and dogs, and she and her husband, Peter, currently have two rescue dogs, a black lab mix and a Border collie mix.

Fostering is a family affair for the Burgdorffs.  Glynis and Peter have a room dedicated to their foster pups, and baby monitors are placed strategically around the house.  Peter takes the morning shift, letting Glynis catch up on sleep and gear up for afternoon and night duties. Her kids will pitch in when they’re around, and her two young grandchildren are, not surprisingly, always excited to come over. “A house filled with puppies encourages your children to come home to visit!” says Glynis.

When asked her favorite thing about fostering, Glynis responds, “everything!” Among the highlights: “The joy of giving innocent puppies and their mommies a chance to have the happy life all animals deserve… knowing the blessing the puppies and their moms will bring to the forever families who adopt them… and, having a house filled with puppy breath!”

Glynis appreciates greatly the support she gets from St. Hubert’s and Kat. “When I have concerns, it takes Kat about three minutes to call me back, and she is incredibly patient.” About Glynis, Kat says simply, “St. Hubert’s is incredibly lucky to have her.”

Glynis puppy collage.jpg

Bill Woolley

Bill Woolley has lived with at least one cat for every one of his 65 years, so when he retired and was looking for a meaningful way to spend his time, St. Hubert’s seemed like a natural fit. It’s been just over a year since he started volunteering as a feline friend at Noah’s Ark, and Bill has become indispensable, devoted to the cats and a favorite of the staff.

Bill is modest about his talents as a cat whisperer. “Cats and I just seem to have personalities that mesh well and I’ve never met a cat who didn’t capture my heart.” He is an effective advocate as well. With help from St. Hubert’s staff he started a TNR project in his neighborhood last year. So far he has accommodated 11 cats in his apartment before returning them to the outside or socializing them well enough to surrender to Noah’s for adoption. Because of his efforts, four cats have found great homes, and Bill has quietly sponsored the adoption fee for each one.

Bill appreciates the “fantastic” staff at Noah’s, “who appreciate my effort and welcome me every day like I’m part of their team…. There are no staff members who seem interested in stepping into the spotlight or taking bows. They genuinely and consistently want to keep the animals on center stage.”

And the feeling is definitely mutual. Noah’s manager, Amanda, says, “Bill is really patient, and I know when he spends time with a shy or scared cat, that cat will start to come around…. He is one of the most compassionate people I have ever met.”

Bill W.jpg

Dawn Kleinfield

When Dawn Kleinfield adopted two kittens, sisters, from St. Hubert’s back in 2000, she liked what she saw at the shelter and decided to volunteer.  Eighteen years later one of those kittens, Pi, is a retired therapy cat and robust senior, and Dawn is one of St. Hubert’s most dedicated volunteers and a passionate advocate for the cats.

A software engineer for many years, Dawn had a successful second career as a middle school math teacher. Since her retirement 4 years ago she has been able to devote more time to volunteering. She tries to be in the cattery four days a week, assisting staff, mentoring new volunteers and helping potential adopters.

For the past 4 years she has also served as a cat/kitten foster. Foster coordinator Kat and lead vet tech Sam know they can count on Dawn, that she will take excellent care of her fosters and act as an adoption ambassador on their behalf. She has only “foster failed” once.  Dawn remembers that Pi was depressed and cried for weeks when her litter mate died at age 10. During this time Dawn was asked to foster Theo, a 6 year old male cat who had been hit by a car and whose leg was broken in four places. That was eight years ago; Theo was just what the doctor ordered for Pi, and he made himself right at home. He has pins and a metal rod in his leg, but Theo is a happy lap cat whose primary interests are eating and lounging on the couch.

Talking with potential adopters is Dawn’s favorite role at St. Hubert’s. “I like matching people up with cats; that is very rewarding,” she says. She stays in touch with some adopters, happy to offer advice and encouragement. And she has become indispensable to staff. According to one staff member, “Dawn is my right arm and my left arm. I couldn’t do it without her.”

 

Dawn K.jpg

Patty Millin

Patty Millin works full-time, but her Sundays are devoted to St. Hubert’s. She arrives by 8:30 am and spends the entire morning- often longer- cleaning the dogs’ kennels.  Warm, kind and always smiling, Patty is committed to keeping the dogs at the shelter happy and comfortable. A dedicated volunteer for the past 12 years, she is a favorite of staff and a welcoming mentor for new volunteers just starting out.

Born and raised in Madison, NJ, Patty grew up reading St. Hubert’s newsletters, and she adopted her Sharpei mix Bruce in 2006. Several months after bringing Bruce home she decided to try volunteering. “It became a way of life,” she says. Initially she worked with dogs, cats and small animals, but soon found that her heart was with the dogs.

When her beloved Bruce died at 13 1/2, staff members knew Patty needed another dog in her life, and they were determined to find just the right one. Patty’s only request was that a new dog be 30 pounds or less; the rest she left up to them. The staff picked a Jindo mix named Tiger Lily, a dog rescued from a meat farm in South Korea. Tiger Lilly had been adopted then returned to the shelter two days after Bruce died. It was meant to be. Tiger Lilly went home with Patty; she will be two years old this month and brings Patty much joy (and a few challenges!)

Patty is also a valued member of St. Hubert’s Emergency Response Team, always willing to pitch in at a moment's notice, whether it’s cleaning countless dog crates after a hurricane transport or providing food and water to cats rescued from a hoarding situation.  St. Hubert’s is her home away from home.  She says, “I love the animals, and the staff are like my family…I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.”

Patty Millin.jpg

Samantha Berger

Samantha Berger knew nothing about St. Hubert’s before she brought her toy poodle Abby to the Training and Behavior Center for puppy kindergarten in 2015. But once she arrived it was instant love. “You couldn’t get me to leave,” she remembers. Sam began cleaning the kennels and greeting visitors. She got involved with the ASPCA Behavior Center housed at the time on the Madison campus, where she helped traumatized dogs begin to learn to trust people. Walking shelter dogs and socializing cats followed. Her dad is allergic to cats so she didn’t grow up with them and was eager to learn as much as possible. “Everything I could do here, I went for.”

When Sam heard about St. Hubert’s free vaccine clinics she approached Community Care Manager Jennifer Gregory to say, “What about me?!” Since then Sam has been a regular at the clinics doing whatever is needed, from keeping an orderly flow of clients to drawing vaccines, to being on the lookout for loose dogs. And always with a smile on her face. “I do whatever Jenn tells me to do!” she says. (She’s pictured below with veterinarian Dr. Robert Harris at a recent clinic in Trenton.)

But Sam’s volunteer activities at St. Hubert’s don’t even end there.  She is an assistant trainer in the Training and Behavior School, works with the newly formed Youth Task Force, has been part of the evaluation “crowd” at pet therapy examinations, and helps out at adoption events. When she is not volunteering, Sam works as a vet assistant at an animal behavior clinic and is taking pre-vet classes as well. St. Hubert’s is extremely fortunate to have her!

Sam Berger.jpg

Bev Barney

Newly retired back in 2013, Bev Barney decided to volunteer at St. Hubert’s after bringing her Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, KC, to a therapy dog prep class at the Training and Behavior Center.  But her early volunteer experience did not go entirely smoothly.  On her first day of dog walking training, Bev remembers, “I couldn’t get the harness on, and the dog escaped… I flunked.” The dog was quickly retrieved, but a St. Hubert’s staff member gently suggested that Bev might be happier helping out at the front desk.

The front desk position suited her perfectly, and she still has regular shifts there, but Bev’s luck with the shelter pups also improved. A warm and compassionate dog lover, she enjoyed making enrichment toys and took videos for the ASPCA Behavioral Rehabilitation Center, when it was still based at St. Hubert’s. Then she was asked by a St. Hubert’s staff member if she’d be interested in spending some quiet time with a few of the most frightened dogs in the kennel. This quickly became one of Bev’s favorite activities, and twice a week she spends an hour in a quiet room reading to dogs. “I read a book I think they will enjoy,” she says. The One and Only Ivan and All Creatures Great and Small are her current go-to selections. Shy Canela, pictured below with Bev, visibly brightens when she comes to her kennel.

Bev and her therapy dog KC, now 12 years old, also still make regular visits to Morristown Medical Center. And Bev enjoys making follow-up calls to people who have adopted from St. Hubert’s. “Ninety five percent of them are happy,” she says. The ones who are having trouble she connects with the Pet Helpline.

Bev’s commute to the Madison campus can take more than an hour. Both the animals and staff are grateful she’s committed to making the drive!

Bev B..jpg

Amy Tefft

Amy Tefft’s belief in the healing potential of energetic therapies on shelter animals began with a kitten named Leona. Declawed and then returned for behavioral issues, Leona was stressed and Amy wanted to help. A Google search of “how to handle aggressive cats” turned up videos demonstrating TTouch, a method of gentle circular touch designed to calm and establish a deeper connection between humans and animals. It was a game changer for Leona and opened up to Amy a world of ways to support and help heal frightened shelter cats. (She has worked her magic on dogs as well, including a terrified chi mix named Mario who came in on a transport last year. Staff were amazed at Mario’s transformation after he spent time with Amy.) A paintbrush and a feather are among her soothing tools, the paintbrush a remnant of her years in the interior design world.

Amy is also a seasoned practitioner of Reiki, for people and animals, and she has won over some dubious staff members with her on-site Reiki circles. “It’s all about the energy,” is her mantra.

She adopted her much-loved cat Tazmanian from St. Hubert’s in 2008, and began volunteering in the cattery a few years later. She started off cleaning cages, which in her view is a valuable first step to becoming more mindful of cat behavior.

A kind, compassionate and light-hearted presence in the cattery, Amy works to consistently support the individual needs of cats, and rejoices when they find their perfect home. When we caught up with her she was helping staff member Meredith plant containers on the outdoor “catio” with feline favorites like catnip.

Amy will tell you she has learned a lot from the cats and is grateful for St. Hubert’s and its people. We know it’s the cats- and all of us- who are the lucky ones.

Amy T.jpg

Roy Morance

For almost nine years, with little fanfare, volunteer Roy Morance has devoted one Sunday every month to St. Hubert’s. Rain or shine (“March was bad,” he says with some understatement,) Roy and his friends Kathy and Eleanor set up a table in front of the Hackettstown or Ledgewood Walmart. They hand out wish lists, collect cash and donations, and talk to people about the animals at St. Hubert’s. In May their drive raised more than $700 in cash and supplies.

Soliciting donations doesn’t come naturally to Roy, who is on the shy side, but his passion outweighs his reticence “We do it for the animals,” he says.

After a 38 year career as a CPA and controller of a publishing company, Roy retired in 2016. The self-described workaholic stayed home for precisely one day, before launching into multiple volunteer activities that include ESL tutoring, two food banks, a dog rescue and Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore. With a schedule like this, St. Hubert’s is very lucky to have him one day a month!

 

Roy M.jpg

Betty Temby

Betty Temby began volunteering at St. Hubert’s Madison campus in 1989, and spent seven years helping there. She walked dogs, pitched in at Doggy Day Camp, assisted with the annual art show and staffed tables at numerous offsite events.  In 1996, after she and her husband moved closer to the North Branch shelter, Betty decided to turn her attention to the cats there. That was more than 20 years ago(!) and the felines at North Branch have benefited from her devoted care ever since.

Betty is at the shelter every Saturday, rain or shine. She makes sure she knows all the cats that are available for adoption so she can provide information to potential adopters and help make the right match. She particularly enjoys spending time with the cats that need some extra socialization. North Branch manager Pam Fyfe says that, “Betty is always smiling… she is so happy when she is around the cats, and even happier when she is able to send a kitty home.”

Betty grew up with dogs and cats, and her earliest memories include loving her grandmother’s kitties. She has adopted three cats from St. Hubert's. We are grateful that Betty chooses to spend her time helping the cats at the North Branch shelter. She says simply, “I like to see them get adopted.”

Betty Temby.jpg

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.

 

Bill C.jpg

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.

Arlene and Mark S.jpg
Donate

Make a gift today.

Click Here to Donate.