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Four smiling volunteers standing side by side in front of a LifeLine transport van.

Seasonal Volunteer Spotlight

This fall, we’re highlighting a group of incredible LifeLine volunteers and fosters. They have dedicated so much of their time to our animals and community during a very challenging year and we’re very grateful to them.

Catherine Butts
Community Animal Center
Volunteer, Catherine, smiling at the camera with a light brown foster dog, Cesare, at her side.

What made you want to get involved with LifeLine?

I moved into a new neighborhood a few years ago and found a stray dog. I was told I should bring her to the (old) Dekalb County Animal Services on Camp Road in case someone was looking for her. Never having been inside a county shelter, I was overwhelmed by how crowded the facility was. At that moment, I decided I had to get involved and help homeless pets in my community. 

I started volunteering after that and brought my first foster pup home a few months later. She was doing poorly in the shelter environment and was to stay with us for only a few days while her adopters got things ready for her at their house. They changed their minds and decided she wasn’t the right fit. My two dogs and I had fallen in love with her and we adopted her… I’m listening to her snoring loudly now, and it always makes me smile. I’ve since added another dog that was also a foster.

What is your favorite volunteer activity?

It’s hard to pick one since I enjoy doing many things, from fostering and taking dogs out for the day to transporting animals and doing playgroups. I have a soft spot for the dogs that have “issues” and for the shy/scared ones. I love walking/running with the shelter pups and spending time getting to know their unique personalities and what makes each one special. It’s incredible to see a dog who acts tough and loud in his kennel light up and act like a goofball once he’s out. It’s a relief to see an anxious dog relax and roll on his back in the grass, grinning.

How were you able to use your unique set of skills to help LifeLine?

I don’t think I have a unique set of skills to use. I love animals and like to think that I have a sense of humor. You need it some days because it can be stressful at the shelter. I’m willing to jump in where help is needed, and I care about these innocent, resilient & loving souls, as we all do. As volunteers, we are advocates for these animals and can help change their lives forever.

A close up of volunteer, Catherine, knelt down with a brown dog licking her face.

What advice would you give someone who is thinking about volunteering?

It’s simple, “Just do it!” like that shoe brand says. You will meet wonderful people. I feel lucky to have made some close friends through volunteering. There are opportunities to get involved in whatever ways best fit your strengths and interests, whether spending time with cats & kittens, helping with laundry, taking pictures or writing bios for dogs. Every contribution makes a difference. Often, when I leave the shelter, I feel exhausted from running/walking 5+ miles with the dogs, but I’m also happy knowing that they are tired, too, and will sleep soundly dreaming of their forever home.

Tom Borcherding
DeKalb County Animal Services
Volunteer, Tom, sitting on a porch step, smiling, with a sitting black dog holding a toy in its mouth.

What made you get involved with LifeLine?

I got involved with LifeLine because I believe in the cause. Over the years, my family has adopted several dogs from different organizations (the last two from LifeLine), and they have brought us much joy.  Volunteering had been on my mind for a while and, as my daughters got older, I realized I had more free time. I wanted to do something that in some small way would help LifeLine’s animals get into good homes.

What is your favorite volunteer activity?

What I enjoy most is seeing a long-term resident hop in the backseat of an adopter’s car and ride away. And then a month or so later, seeing pictures of him/her thriving outside of the shelter. I get enjoyment from making the residents’ stays at DCAS a little more tolerable until that permanent home comes along. And, I enjoy spending time with dogs that may have behavior issues. It’s worthwhile to see those dogs get into a good permanent home or foster home.

How were you able to use your unique set of skills to help LifeLine?

The skills I bring to volunteering are not much more than two sturdy legs, a strong grip, and the ability to throw. I realize that throwing is possibly the only one of those things that might be considered a skill. I have a terrible weakness for dogs who retrieve. With a couple of tennis balls, some of these dogs can pack a great aerobic workout into 15 minutes. And I know that makes their long hours of kennel time more bearable.

Volunteer, Tom, sitting on a bench outside of the shelter with a black dog standing at his side.

What advice would you give someone who is thinking about volunteering?

I would encourage anyone thinking about volunteering to do it. It is far more rewarding than I ever imagined it could be. The hours I spend there fly by. Walking LifeLine’s dogs is great exercise for all involved. LifeLine staff and volunteers are dedicated, resourceful, and compassionate people. New volunteers are always a welcome sight. The staff and more experienced volunteers will do whatever we can to make sure the new volunteer has a positive experience.

Kimberlie Weinberg
Fulton County Animal Services
Volunteer, Kimberlie, sitting at a n outdoortable wearing sunglasses with a smiling dog in her lap.

What made you get involved with LifeLine?

I always knew I wanted to do something in rescue, I just never made the move to do it. One night after watching videos about dog rescues for almost 2 hours and crying my eyes out, I decided to reach out to an old co-worker who now works at LifeLine and asked how I could volunteer. Best move I’ve ever made!

What is your favorite volunteer activity?

I have to pick just one?! I LOVE taking dogs out for the day. Not only does it give them a break from the shelter, it gives me the opportunity to see their true personalities. The shelter is stressful, and all dogs don’t handle it the same. I like to take the ones who are shy, older, stressed, shut down and give them time away…even if for just a few hours. It’s so much fun to just let them be a dog and spoil them.

Right behind Dog for the Day is working in the kennel. There’s a lot of poop (A LOT OF POOP), but I love giving the dogs time outside in the play yards and just loving on them. I have to admit, I’m horrible about letting them jump on me, lay in my lap, lick me to death… basically I let them do whatever they want because, hey, they live in a shelter.

How were you able to use your unique set of skills to help LifeLine?

Participating in Dog for the Day has been a great way to educate the community about LifeLine, shelter life and, let’s be honest, the block heads (my favorite – the bigger the better). I feel like it’s one thing to try and correct misconceptions, but it’s another thing to show people how great these dogs really are.

Volunteer, Kimberlie, sitting on a couch looking at and petting a smiling dog.

What advice would you give someone who is thinking about volunteering?

I would be honest and let them know it’s not easy. There are good and bad days, but the good always outweighs the bad.  I actually started volunteering with my best friend. She made it 1 day and said the situation made her too sad to come back… 4 years later I’m still here. That one day, however, made a huge impact and she vowed to foster anyone who was desperately in need (she has since fostered and then adopted one of our most in need dogs). Regardless of how you chose to volunteer, whether it’s writing content, helping in the kennel, doing Dog for the Day, etc. you make an impact – and it’s better to do something than to do nothing.

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