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Seasonal Volunteer Spotlight

Our winter volunteer spotlight highlights a wonderful group of LifeLine volunteers and fosters. Amidst dropping temperatures and a busy holiday season, these individuals’ dedication to our animals and community has only ramped up!

Celine Qi (and friends)
Community Animal Center

What made you want to get involved with LifeLine?

I first heard about LifeLine from a friend who adopted from here. They had nothing but praise for the organization! Getting involved with animal shelters is something I’ve always wanted to do since I was a child. So I figured quarantine would be the perfect time to begin fostering. I sat down with my roommate and our partners, and we figured out a plan that would work for all of us since we’re all full-time college students. We started with one dog at a time, which eventually progressed into a cat and a dog at the same time!

What is your favorite volunteer activity?

It’s really difficult to decide since we’ve loved essentially every part of our experience! I’d say spending quality time with our foster babies—whether going on walks, hikes, or cuddling in bed—and figuring out each one’s personality. Also, getting them adopted and picking up new fosters. It’s especially heartwarming to help a dog or cat get adopted if they’ve been with us for a while or have underlying health issues that may scare away most adopters. We absolutely love welcoming our home to any pet who would do well out of the shelter.

Not only did we have some fur friends accompany us during remote learning, but each one truly made lasting impacts on us. It’s so rewarding to give them a temporary home, knowing that they are now adopted and incorporated into the best families possible for them. I mean it when I say that fostering through LifeLine has been one of my most memorable and enjoyable experiences. And I’m really glad that what we’ve done has made an impact!

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

I’m not really sure what our unique set of skills would be, but perhaps our teamwork! Having one another helped make us better foster parents. We were able to have multiple foster pets at once and to go back to the shelter to bring another home consecutively because we could divide and conquer tasks. When one of us was on vacation, the other would take over. Usually, not all of us at once were free to take them to the vet or to facilitate meet-and-greets, so we scheduled these as soon as possible as long as one of us was available. Some of us were better at training, cuddling, playing, being on task with medicine and walks, etc. than others. After all of us were able to get to know the foster babies, we were able to pitch in and write detailed biographies!

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

I would say definitely go for it, but know what you can and cannot handle. Since fostering was new for us and we had varying degrees of experience handling dogs and cats, we figured out what we needed in a foster baby to create the best environment possible for all of us. For example, we learned pretty early that we needed a dog-friendly dog since we live in an apartment complex.

Along with that, I would also say be prepared for any hardships. We didn’t adopt any of our foster pets because we were at an unstable part in life (otherwise I definitely would’ve wanted to adopt nearly all of them). But I really struggled to come to terms with having to return a foster pet if they didn’t fit our lifestyle or if we couldn’t find someone to look after them while we were away. Everyone at LifeLine is super supportive and understanding, which was a great help!

Lynn Huff
DeKalb County Animal Services

What made you get involved with LifeLine?

I was a single parent and worked a ridiculous amount of hours each week during my career, so I couldn’t do significant volunteer work for a long time. I have always loved animals and actually did some volunteering and fundraising for local rescues when I was a child. My adult daughter was volunteering with a local rescue, and I went along with her a couple of times and loved it. When she was looking to volunteer with a different organization, I decided to join her. We went to orientation together at LifeLine’s former Dog House & Kitty Motel in Avondale Estates.

We started volunteering at DeKalb County Animal Services (DCAS) soon after the new shelter was built in 2017. I had always had cats as an adult but realized how much help was needed with the dogs. I just jumped in and helped where I was most needed: walking dogs, helping with the cats in the shelter, cleaning kennels and assisting adopters. From day 1, I was hooked!

What is your favorite volunteer activity?

It’s hard for me to pick a favorite. I really enjoy walking and getting to know the dogs, and I spend most of my time at the shelter doing this. Shelter life can be so stressful, and the dogs are SO grateful for the love and attention we give them. One of the best feelings in the world is when you see dogs who you’ve spent time with find a great home! I also love fostering and almost always have kittens in my home during kitten season. They pay you back with constant entertainment!

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

I don’t really think I have unique skills, but I do have a passion for animal welfare. Volunteering and fostering with LifeLine has actually given me knowledge and skills that I didn’t have before!

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

Just do it! There are so many ways you can help our mission, and the need is so great! Whether you are a dog person, cat person or both (like me), there are no shortages of opportunities if you want to work hands-on with animals. You can also support the cause in other ways: laundry, cleaning and organizing are always needed and much appreciated.  Are you handy? There are usually some projects where someone with your skills is needed. Driving transportation to rescue or vet appointments is also often needed. You can find a role just for you, and you’ll also meet and make friends with some amazing people! Jump in and make a difference!

Emily Kozarek (and Mona)
Fulton County Animal Services

What made you get involved with LifeLine?

My dog Toby always lived with other dog friends, so when my roommate finally moved out, Tobes was so depressed! I foster failed the very first time; the two just fell so madly in love I couldn’t separate them. Toby passed away about a year after I adopted my first foster (Mona). She really helped me through the loss transition and was the very best foster sister. Mona loves teaching scared/shy dogs how to ‘dog’ again.

What is your favorite volunteer activity?

Taking adoptable dogs out in public is always so much fun! Breweries, hiking, the beltline… everywhere we go, people notice the yellow ‘Adopt Me’ leashes and harnesses. I love watching people fawn over how cute and well behaved the dogs are. So many have been adopted this way!

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

I don’t have any unique skills! The staff and volunteers in the shelters do an INCREDIBLE job. Some dogs are just so scared or shut down they need a break from shelter life. Being patient and watching their personalities blossom is the very best part!

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

A few things: first, just do it! The Dog for a Day and Weekend Warrior programs are a great way to start.

Second, fostering doesn’t have to be a long term commitment. The dogs appreciate any amount of time out of the shelter! LifeLine’s staff is incredible and wonderfully understanding of travel plans, work situations, etc. Third, the staff and volunteers know the dogs so well that they can easily pair you with a dog that matches your needs very well.

Finally, dogs that “need a break from the shelter,” or sometimes just being shelter dogs, people may think they need a lot of training or could be difficult to handle. I’ve fostered 22 dogs so far and honestly miss every single one of them. They are all SUCH great dogs, and they’re grateful to have a soft bed and a quiet environment. They share their love with you every day!

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