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Seasonal Volunteer Spotlight

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We can’t let the summer end without acknowledging some volunteers and fosters in our quarterly spotlight. These lifesavers from each shelter location have shown up for our staff, for the pets in our care, and for other volunteers and community members time and time again.

Please join me in celebrating our volunteer and foster heroes for all of their contributions to LifeLine and our lifesaving mission. Continue reading to learn more about them! And, when you see them next, tell them thank you for all they do!

Annie Schiltz
Community Animal Center
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What made you want to get involved with LifeLine?

I retired from teaching after 32 years and wanted to volunteer somewhere. I knew about LifeLine and had adopted 3 dogs from there. My neighbor Phyllis volunteered at the Community Animal Center and I went with her one day and signed up. I started in the laundry room, washing dishes and walking Fidget, a senior adoptable dog at the LifeLine Community Animal Center.

What is your favorite volunteer activity?

With the help of another volunteer, my favorite volunteer activity is keeping the donation room and laundry room organized. There are a lot of donations, and we make sure that everything that is donated gets put to use at the Community Animal Center, Dekalb County Animal Services, Fulton County Animal Services, Pets for Life and other organizations. Afterwards, it is fun to visit some of the dogs, give them treats or go outside.

Also, fostering! I have a special place in my heart for the needy dogs. They pick me, and then end up at my house on the sofa. I have “foster failures”!

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

I like to organize and network which comes in handy with the laundry and donation room!

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

Just do it! What do you have to lose? NOTHING, because you will get more out of it than you can imagine.

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There are so many ways you can volunteer, you just have to jump in and find what fits. I have met some of the most incredible people since volunteering. I have learned so much about the shelter world. Thanks to the Community Animal Center staff and Canine Capture Crew, both these groups have supported and encouraged me on this adventure, and I am grateful!

Tania Salesky
Community Animal Center
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What made you want to get involved with LifeLine?

After settling in from relocation to Atlanta, I knew I wanted to get involved with dogs somehow. I had a bunch of treats I wanted to donate and found out the Lifeline Avondale location was nearby. So, I stopped in to drop off, but then I was told “hey, do you just want to hand them out!” Of course, I was thrilled at the idea. Afterwards, staff talked to me about volunteering and fostering; what that involved and how to get started. Getting to meet each dog there, and hearing about their various backgrounds and how they ended up at the shelter, had such a huge impact on me. I LOVE being around dogs and this was where I wanted to help and what a journey it has been!

What is your favorite volunteer activity?

I enjoy doing various things from dog socialization, grooming, organizing inventory, and matchmaking it always keeps things interesting! Wherever I’m needed I’m ready to jump in.

I’m also a foster mom and have a soft spot for puppies, shy and behavioral dogs. Working with the dogs that need that extra help to shine is such a rewarding experience. Patiently getting to know a shy nervous dog to working with them to slowly become more confident or training on the unwanted dog behaviors by finding alternative solutions for them.

Lastly, helping with puppy training by having human and dog socialization along with some leash skills is a great start to their success.

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

Growing up with small dogs, I’ve become quite versed in their language. Staff refer me as the “Tiny Angry Dog expert” because of my involvement with the 3 long timers: Ewok, Surfer Dude and Giacomo. These are small dogs that have extra-large personalities. They all needed extra assessments of their personalities and handling as special needs behavioral dogs. 

I currently have Ewok and Giacomo in foster (more like training bootcamp) to work on certain behaviors and get them acclimated to a home environment. Some days can be challenging, but it’s great to see their improvements. I have successfully found Surfer Dude’s forever home where he is thriving with his adopter and fur siblings. Although these small dogs are cute, and you just want to cuddle up with them, they do need that special adopter to meet their needs at their pace. I enjoy working these special needs behavioral dogs and training them to be successful in their future homes.

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

Take the journey, sign up and show up! Whether it’s volunteering or fostering, you will see the impact you make to these animals that are still waiting to find their forever home. You can come as frequently as you want to, even one day a week. Whatever you can give, we’ll take! There are various activities while volunteering in-person, offsite events to attend, taking a dog out for a mini field trip or fostering. You don’t have to stick to one thing!

Andrea Seidl
DeKalb County Animal Services

What made you get involved with LifeLine?

In 2013, I adopted my first LifeLine dog from the old DeKalb County Animal Services shelter. I was so impressed with what they were doing even in their early days that I knew right then I wanted to be a part of it when I retired. I started when they were still in that awful building. Roxy had heartworm and lots of other issues. She was 5 when we got her and she is still going today at 14.

What is your favorite volunteer activity?

I love doing Pawparazzi which involves working on marketing the animals, writing bios, creating flyers, etc., but my biggest thrill is when I work with someone who is looking for a dog and we are able to find the perfect pet for them. My heart soars!

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

I am very adept at building teams and running programs. Our Pawparazzi team is an example of that. They are the best! Currently we have four photo teams going and our goal is to photograph as many dogs as possible for our website. For example, we recently worked together to hang over 80 new flyers in advance of a recent adoption event.

Andrea Seidl DCAS (1)

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

Persevere. It can be scary and a big learning experience. Before you know it, you will hit your stride. Find the perfect pup/kitty to foster or fall in love with your favorite animal at the shelter who you help to get adopted. Maybe you will find your passion in some other way. Most importantly, if you persist, you will know the good you are doing.

Scott McClane
DeKalb County Animal Services
Scott McClane DCAS (1)

What made you get involved with LifeLine?

In December of 2020, I began helping another rescue group move into their new facility and I knew right then that I had found a new calling. My wife, Ann Shirra, had been volunteering at the Avondale shelter for a number of years so it was a natural fit to join her in the LifeLine community. It has been one of the most rewarding decisions of my life.

What is your favorite volunteer activity?

Very difficult question. It’s all very rewarding, but it’s probably matchmaking. There is nothing that tops matching a potential adopter with the right dog and watching the waggy tail and huge smile walk out the shelter door. A close second though is dog walking and the simple pleasure of sharing a moment of freedom with a dog running unconstrained in the play yard.

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

I enjoy bringing order to chaos and have made a life skill from repairing peoples homes. I’ve truly enjoyed partnering with the staff at DCAS to try and “keep the joint running,” lol, during very trying times. Whether it’s repairing gates, assembling dog beds, organizing storage, or just clearing up the back parking lot, I feel blessed to be able to contribute to the welfare of the animals and at the same time make the staff’s job a little less difficult.

Scott McClane DCAS (3)

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

Do you have time to help relieve a small bit of the suffering in the world? Think about what is important to you to live a meaningful life. If helping bring joy to forsaken animals gives you meaning then this is the place for you.

Do not sell yourself short. There are no specific qualifications for this “job”. There are myriad ways to contribute that can fit your particular personality and abilities.

Clare Specht
Fulton County Animal Services
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What made you get involved with LifeLine?

I heard about the Dog for the Day program while I was in college at Georgia Tech and thought it was the coolest thing ever, but didn’t have a car to take them anywhere. When I decided to move back to Atlanta in August, I signed up for orientation before I’d even packed for the move so I could finally go on my dog adventures!

I also had been hoping to foster kittens ever since I went down the Kitten Lady rabbit hole after finding my 5-week-old hot mess resident cats in a Louisiana parking lot and finally had the space (and therefore the boyfriend’s blessing) to do so.

After orientation, I fell in love with the no pressure flexibility of volunteering at Fulton and decided to get my dog fix a little more consistently. I started to find myself wondering about all the mystery dogs on the website on slow days at work, and it’s all spiraled from there!

What is your favorite volunteer activity?

My favorite activity is facilitating ultimate doggie makeovers! I love finding out that the super menacing or pathetic looking dog on the website is actually the sweetest happiest dog on the planet. If I’m biased about a dog with a picture from the staff only section, I can only imagine what potential adopters might be thinking, so I enjoy, perhaps somewhat obsessively, digging up and creating content that can totally change that perception. I also love getting to know other volunteers and get long timers out during doggie jog and watching serious adopters fall in love with a dog.

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

I think the best part of volunteering with LifeLine is there are no unique skillsets required – just about everything I know about dog behavior I’ve learned through volunteering and LifeLine behavior trainings. That said, I grew up around horses and resident bichons, so I’m not afraid of a little dirt (and poop) under my fingernails. I’ve also enjoyed using my new data analytics certificate to help automate Asana updates.

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

Go for it! LifeLine has one of the most flexible and inclusive volunteer programs I’ve seen, so there are no hoops to jump through and no minimum or maximum amount of time required. If you’re on the fence, know that the one hour you spend with a dog before you maybe decide it’s not for you still means the world to them, so there’s really no downside to trying it out!

Rosalie Hathcock
Fulton County Animal Services
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What made you get involved with LifeLine?

My 17 year old cat with cancer passed away. He had been rescued when he was a tiny baby. I promised him that I would help other tiny babies so they could have great, long lives. I hadn’t fostered in many, many years. I started looking at Atlanta area organizations. I was initially leaning towards the Humane Society. After researching, it seemed like they had plenty of help. I stumbled across LifeLine and saw that 92 cents of every dollar went towards animal care. That’s huge and it peaked my interest. The more I learned about LifeLine the more I knew it was where I wanted to volunteer. It wasn’t long before I received the first foster plea. I was so excited & rushed to the shelter to pick up the most precious little calico girl.

From the moment I arrived, everyone was so nice & welcoming! Each time I went back to the shelter, I met new people and it just kept reinforcing that LifeLine was the organization for me. It’s rare to find an entire staff of people that truly love animals…. even in rescues. The team at FCAS treats the dogs as if they were their very own furry family member. Each person is treated with kindness and respect. It’s a group of people that really work so incredibly hard on behalf of the animals and each other. I admire them so much! Now I volunteer at the shelter for the animals but also for the staff!

What is your favorite volunteer activity?

Wow! That’s a really hard question. Ultimately my very favorite thing is fostering the bottle baby kittens. However, there are so many other ways I really enjoy helping. I like the dispatch role because I feel like I can help people understand how wonderful the animals are that are back in the kennels. I also like it a lot because I get to learn so much about each of the different departments. I love making flyers for the animals because it’s something small that I can do to contribute to helping them get adopted. I love doing enrichment because it’s something so easy yet so wonderful for the dogs and cats. An easier question for me is probably what do you not like about volunteering. That’s easy. I’ve never been asked to help with anything that I didn’t enjoy!

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

I don’t know that I have a unique set of skills. I worked in the corporate world for 20 years. During that time I did everything from Customer Service to order entry to laying fiber into switching equipment to project management and event planning. I try to just always bring a positive attitude to whatever I’m doing. I think the team at FCAS do a phenomenal job of working with volunteers to find ways that they can help. The staff is always open to hearing ideas and no idea is ever too far-fetched. They have confidence in the volunteers and let us find ways to help. It’s the team spirit that they bring to the shelter that I’m drawn to and why I keep trying to find ways to help.

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

I feel like a lot of people are nervous about helping in a shelter because it can be emotional. I understand that completely! That’s why it’s so wonderful that there are so many different ways to help! Don’t overthink it! Just fill out the volunteer form and get started. After orientation, talk to different staff members and other volunteers. Be honest about what the types of activities you do & don’t like. I guarantee there is something on site, or remotely, that would appeal to the majority. Once you are an active volunteer, don’t be afraid to ask for help.

Fostering is an incredible journey. It can be hard and challenging but it brings so much joy! It’s a way to literally save lives! Shelter life is so stressful for animals. They don’t understand where they are and where their humans have gone. Suddenly they’ve got other animals all around them and lots of noise. As soon as they have a chance to relax, you get to see how truly wonderful and amazing they are! Even though their humans may have let them down, they still give unconditional love! So many people misunderstand shelter animals. They just need to experience the animals away from the shelter to see how these 50 pound dogs are the silly, wiggly, sweet, loving precious snugglers people dream of when they think about a pet. There really are only two dangers with these babies: (1) they want to sit in your lap so you might get smooshed & (2) you might fall madly in love with them and adopt them yourself!

HOW TO HELP

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LifeLine volunteers are a critical part of our lifesaving mission. You can make a difference in the lives of shelter pets in so many ways!

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