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!

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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!

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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.

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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!

 

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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.”

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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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