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male volunteer smiling at the camera with a grey large dog

Seasonal Volunteer Spotlight

This season, we’re highlighting LifeLine volunteers and foster duos! So many couples, friends and families contribute to LifeLine’s mission. We want to take a moment to show our love for those superhero volunteer and foster duos.

Leigh Palubinskas & Andrew Sinn
Community Animal Center
two volunteers with a dog

What made you get involved with LifeLine?

We used to go by the old LifeLine shelter in Avondale Estates regularly when we were walking or running through the area. On several occasions, we brought in neighborhood strays as part of the spay/neuter program. We have both always loved dogs and cats and had donated to several animal related causes. We decided that we wanted to be more actively involved in animal welfare and signed up to be volunteers. At first, we figured we would just take some dogs on walks, but it has turned into so much more over the last several years.

What is your favorite volunteer activity?

Between the two of us, we have tried so many things that it’s hard to pick just one that is our favorite. We love taking dogs out for the day on adventures and getting great pictures and a much better idea of their personalities. It’s so rewarding to see the dogs relax and enjoy themselves outside of the shelter environment. It’s also a great opportunity to talk about LifeLine. When you have a dog and are wearing your volunteer gear, it’s a great opportunity for people to approach and ask questions about the dog and LifeLine in general. Kitten season is also a fun time for us. We wish there weren’t so many homeless little ones but are happy to give them a safe and comfortable landing place before they head to their forever homes.

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

We are still trying to determine what our unique skills are, but we have a truck! That may be our most helpful attribute as LifeLine volunteers. We’ve loaded that truck with dogs and community cats (not at the same time), taken dogs on adventures and hauled equipment from the old shelter to the new shelter. It’s been an integral part of our skill set. I think being flexible and willing to try new things has made our experience with LifeLine a good one. We are willing to ask questions and help where we are needed most. A willingness to talk to just about anyone helps too. We love letting people know about who LifeLine is and what they do. Such great conversations with many people over the years. Those are some of the most fulfilling parts of volunteering for us.

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

If you are interested in volunteering, go into it with an open mind. There are so many ways to get involved. Introvert or extrovert, there is a role you can play with LifeLine. If you aren’t sure how you want to participate, ask questions and be willing to try new things. The LifeLine volunteers and staff are willing to help and are all focused on making life better for the animals. We have gotten help over the years from so many people and we are always happy to pass that info on to others.

Josie Vetrano & Patrick Sherman
DeKalb County Animal Services
two volunteers with 3 smiling dogs

What made you get involved with LifeLine?

We rescued our first dog, Oscar, in April 2016 from Fulton County Animal Services. Josie never had any dogs growing up but she got the hang of it pretty quickly. Four months later we added our pug, Knives, and all of a sudden she was a dog person. We learned that Dekalb County was opening a new animal shelter about 15 minutes from our house. Josie wanted to give back to the homeless animals since we couldn’t adopt them all so she attended volunteer orientation. The new building opened in August 2017 and Patrick started coming along to walk dogs.

A month later, we got our first foster because Hurricane Irma was expected flood Fulton County’s shelter. What was supposed to be a two-week foster became our third adoption and we added Girlfriend to our pack. At the shelter, we started volunteering once a month, then weekends, and now coming daily for the last 18 months. We have unofficially become the “clean up crew” taking out dogs at the end of the day who haven’t been out yet.

What is your favorite volunteer activity?

Our main activity is dog walking and we love it! It’s great see smiles on their faces and excitement to run and play. We’ve also fostered dogs, participated in Dog for a Day, done dog enrichment, and spend a little down time with cats. We also have to mention that the volunteer network is one of the best out there and part of the reason we keep coming back. We’ve made so many connections with people who are as passionate about animals as we are. They are the most friendly and generous people you’ll ever meet.

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

Not sure that our skills are necessarily unique. Patrick is the more the animal expert having had pets most of his life. Josie didn’t have much to go on other than walking her own dogs, but walking dogs at the shelter has increased her confidence to walk dogs of all sizes and temperaments. While we both like working out, Patrick is really good at running with the dogs and somehow not getting dragged since some are quite fast!

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

One of the things we love about volunteering is that no matter how bad our day is, we always feel so much better after spending time with the dogs. They are so appreciative of spending time out of their kennel. It becomes mutually beneficial. Some people think we are so “brave” for volunteering with the animals because shelter life is so sad. But the truth is that help in any capacity makes shelter life better. Whether you make enrichment treats for dogs, socialize cats, or help with simple things like laundry or dishwashing, every little bit helps. With more advocates in the shelter spreading the word about the animals, the hope is that their time in the shelter would be shortened.

Any other facts you would like the others to know?

In 3+ years of volunteering, we’ve seen so many people coming in the doors looking for pets. Some are disappointed that there are so many blocky-head/pitbull-type dogs because they think they are dangerous. Unfortunately, these dogs are most likely to end up in the shelter. There is such a misconception of these dogs, who get such a bad rap. We’ve literally walked hundreds of dogs and have fallen in love with so many of the sweetest dogs ever. We hope that someday the myths about pitbulls are debunked, and people can treat each dog as an individual.

Lisa Jones & Marley Jones
Fulton County Animal Services
two volunteers with a dog

What made you get involved with LifeLine?

My mom (Lisa) is a LifeLine volunteer.  About a year and a half ago, she brought home Maverick for a Dog for a Day outing. That was my first time meeting a LifeLine shelter dog, and he was super sweet and goofy. After that, we helped at adoption events, took dogs for walks and fostered two adorable dogs. Most recently, we foster failed the newest four-legged member of our family! All of this made me want to help people understand that LifeLine is a great shelter that does so much more than most people know. So when the time came to decide on my North Atlanta High School Personal Project, I created an Instagram page to show off all of the amazing adoptable pets at LifeLine!

What is your favorite volunteer activity?

Walking the dogs! The original goal of the project was to walk 50 miles with 50 dogs. But we have passed that and will keep going!

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

I post our interactions with the dogs on social media. We love to show that all LifeLine dogs are sweet, loving and trustworthy pets that would make great family members. I hope the exercise and love we give them helps them get ready for their forever home.

two volunteers in Fulton County Animal Services

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

We often hear that people want to volunteer, but worry it would be overwhelming. In our time at the shelter, we have met some amazingly passionate volunteers that we can now call friends. We’ve gotten to know a kind, helpful and dedicated LifeLine team. Most of all, we’ve seen animals, some with the help of a talented team of trainers, go to their forever homes in record time. So whether it’s laundry, giving a bath, spending time with a dog, making foster send off kits, you will make a difference! (But fair warning, if it’s a bath, you’ll probably get soaked!)

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