Manatee No-Kill: Volunteer urges all to help walk our dogs

September 10, 2013 

Editor's note: P. Duncan is a volunteer for Manatee County Animal Services at the downtown Bradenton Adoption Center, bringing toys and walking the dogs on her work breaks. She volunteers occasionally Saturdays as well. The following is about her volunteering and some of her thoughts about pets.

As a volunteer for Manatee County Animal Services, I would like to advocate for the work they are doing and for the animals that need a home or assistance while in the shelter or adoption center. The staff does a great job, and I see how hard they work.

They are constantly doing their best to serve our community in many important ways. I also see the need for the community to help, as I walk dogs as often as I can. I used to be a "kitty cuddler" until I saw how badly the dogs need walking. We usually have different kinds of dogs, some puppies and lots of cats and kittens. Come take a look and adopt one or more of them! There are often specials, and dogs who have been there more than 60 days have a waived adoption fee.

I am a long-time pet owner, and my pets are fur-babies. They are my children. Even so, at first, the barking and jumping of the dogs at the adoption center made me a little nervous and I was hesitant to walk many of them. Now I walk as many as I can.

Mostly, they are just excited; they have been locked up all day and they want to walk and play and be loved. The staff is so busy with phone calls, adoption paperwork, feeding and watering, and cleaning and disinfecting cages that they don't usu

ally have time to walk the dogs.

I enjoy going in and calling the dogs by name and taking them for walks. Seeing their tails wag and the love in their eyes fills me with joy. I still try to find time to talk to or cuddle the kitties, too. When the time is right, we look forward to adopting another family member.

In addition to a great staff team, there are wonderful volunteers who should be commended for walking, bathing, socializing or taking pictures of the cats and dogs. Volunteers also clean cages, help transport and care for animals at adoption events and other worthy activities. Some volunteers have made adoption vests, bring leashes and other supplies or treats, while others hold yard sales.

There are so many different opportunities to help at either the Downtown Adoption Center or the Palmetto Animal Shelter. We need more volunteers and there are so many things you can do to assist. Foster families for medical, writing grants, photography, grooming -- what is your specialty that you can contribute? Please consider volunteering. Check out the website at mymanatee.org/pets and fill out the volunteer application.

Other things you can do to help our goal of a no-kill community include spaying and neutering your pets, because there are so many that are already alive who need a loving family. Spaying and neutering is a good thing to do for their health, as well as preventing unwanted pets.

Taking a pet into your home is a life-long responsibility, so adopt wisely and plan to work with your new family member and remember they will have needs all of their lives.

Train your dogs and treat them well. They are not something to be left alone all day or chained up outside. I walk dogs that were obviously abused and it breaks my heart that people can be so cruel. Never abuse your pets! Don't make dogs fight; that is inhumane! Speak up against cruelty, such as leaving dogs in hot cars, dropping them off somewhere to fend for themselves and other abuses.

On the day I wrote this, I witnessed a couple park and leave their small dogs in the car (88 degrees, feels like 95.) I called Animal Services and they responded along with the police. Those dogs were in the car for a half hour; I hope they did not suffer brain damage and am so glad they didn't die. In our geographical area, the temperatures inside cars can be unbearably hot and can cause death; please don't leave dogs in the car.

If you can't adopt a cat or dog, become a volunteer and come down and play with or walk some of ours. The application and orientation to be a volunteer is simple and quick.

Check out Manatee County Animal Services on Facebook. Like us and share us with all your friends. Our website, mymanatee.org/pets, has a wealth of information, including your new family member for adoption. Or call 941-742-5933 for information.

Kris Weiskopf, chief of Manatee County Animal Services, provides this weekly column to the Herald.

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