Categorized | News

Senior volunteers invaluable to town’s animal shelter

Volunteers make up a huge percentage of the personnel at the Collierville Animal Shelter. More than 50 percent of the “steady eddie” regular volunteers are seniors, or people over 55.

These “regulars” can be dog people or cat people, and each group has a particular job description. One of the greatest needs at CAS right now is for dog walkers.

Volunteer Cathy Priester is the CAS’s master dog walker. She began volunteering at the shelter in 2010 after having lost her Jack Russell terrier in 2009.

Priester said she wasn’t ready to own another dog yet, but found that spending time with the shelter animals was rewarding in many ways. She trained in both cats and dogs, but decided to concentrate on the dog walking program.

“The dogs have to go outside in extreme temperatures, and the shelter needs volunteers who are willing and able to do that,” said Priester.

The dogs and their walkers go around the pond that is on the shelter grounds, but the benefits go beyond fresh air, exercise and taking care of business.

“The goal in the dog walking program is to socialize, love on and increase the adoptability of the shelter dogs,” said Priester.

Some of the dogs who are abandoned to the shelter have incomplete histories on file, so getting to know them and their needs is a large part of a dog walker’s job. Because it can be challenging to put a leash on a dog who has never worn one, Priester teaches a class in walking shelter dogs one Sunday each month at CAS.

Annie Stout has been a foster mama for puppies at the CAS since 2009. Since retiring in 2013, she has been filling another great need at the shelter- helping out on surgery days. Stout also serves as a liaison between Marshall County and CAS for the Rescue Waggin program, a PetSmart charity which transports homeless dogs and puppies to communities where there is more likelihood of them being adopted.

JoAnne Cobb and Beth Vornbeck are “cat handlers” at the CAS. Both spend two or three days a week following the shelter’s schedule: cleaning in the morning and playing in the afternoon.

“The goal is to know the cats,” said Vornbeck.

She and Cobb agree that one of the best things about CAS is making a good match between animals and people. All four ladies agree that one of the rewards of their work is seeing a stray or abandoned animal go from fearful to loving due to the care they receive from volunteers and foster parents.

Cathy Priester was finally “ready” three years ago. She adopted an eleven-year-old Pekinese who needed dental work.
“He was the one for me,” she said. “He’s 14 now, but he acts like he is three years old.”

For more information on volunteering at CAS, call (901) 457-2670.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *