Shelley began volunteering with TAGS in 2012. At our recent volunteer dinner, she was awarded with a 1-year pin and congratulated for banking over 100 volunteer hours. Below, she tells us all about why she joined TAGS, what roles she has, and what keeps her going.
1. What encouraged you to become a volunteer with TAGS?
Since finishing my education, moving out and getting married I have wanted a dog of my own. Well, OK, let’s be honest, I’ve wanted a dog long before that – I’ve wanted my own dog since my last beloved family dog passed away many years ago. I love dogs! And cats too! I had a cat for 19 years – she’s even in my wedding photos! But since my husband and I were living in a one-bedroom apartment and despite really, REALLY wanting a dog, I knew, realistically, that we could not provide the best environment for one. I worked some evenings, some weekends and some days and knew that with our schedules we also didn’t have the time to devote to a dog. And did I mention that my husband is also allergic to cats and dogs too, to top it all off! Totally 3 strikes against me ever getting a dog! Greaaaattt. Then I thought, “How can I still be around dogs and cats without actually having one myself?” That’s when I found TAGS!
2. What are your roles at TAGS?
Just over a year ago, I started with TAGS as a volunteer in PetSmart, supervising the dogs and telling people all about them, their wonderful qualities and our adoption process. I enjoyed informing people about the incredible journey some of our dogs have made (some from puppy mills others from high-kill shelters or similar) and I was truly inspired by these dogs’ courage and hope for a new life. And I loved seeing the amazement on the faces of people who, after hearing what these dogs had endured before reaching TAGS – like myself just a few months before – had just gained a new-found respect for the world of rescue animals in just a few moments of discussion.
|Me with Rocky at PetSmart. (Rocky has since been adopted)
Over the past few months, now that I have a more regular work schedule, I now also assist with some administrative tasks and have become responsible for booking our foster dogs to be showcased in some of our supporting pet stores in Durham Region. I just love hearing when these dogs have Meet and Greets and then ultimately get adopted – and knowing it could have all started with someone seeing our dogs at the stores. It just shows that what we do here at TAGS is making a difference. And that keeps me going.
3. What are some of the memorable moments you have from volunteering with TAGS?
One moment that stands out for me is when I was volunteering in PetValu Ritson and I had Jill (a dog up for adoption) with me. And we were almost done for the day when a lovely man and woman came into the store to purchase some food for their other dogs. As I was packing up, Jill was on her leash and she started to pull me towards these people. I let her sniff and the couple thought she was so sweet. And then she followed them. All. Over. The. Store. I apologized to the couple and said “There’s just something about you that she likes I guess, but I’m sorry, this doesn’t normally happen.”
Shortly after, Jill’s foster mom arrived to pick her up and the couple came back to where I was finishing packing up, and starting asking Jill’s foster mom all about Jill and her habits. Jill had melted their hearts. Within the following 10 days or so, the couple had set up a Meet and Greet with Jill, who fit right in with the couple’s other dogs, had a Home Visit and a successful Extended Visit and was officially adopted! It happened so fast! If I had ever had any doubt about this process, this sequence of events completely affirmed that having the dogs out in the community to meet people as a way of getting them adopted really does work, and I felt so lucky to be a witness to it. Me, myself and I had actually bore witness to a dog, who had been transported all the way from a Kentucky High-kill shelter, literally choose her forever family! And shortly thereafter, Jill’s new mom (and her teenage son) decided to volunteer for TAGS. How fantastic! (Click here to read about Jill’s new life.)
4. Do you have any other comments/things you would like to share about your experiences?
When I started with TAGS I just wanted to be around dogs and cats because I couldn’t have one of my own. But since learning about the significant over-population in Canada and the U.S. and the reality of the gruesome living conditions some animals have to endure, animal rescue has become something I am truly passionate about. I am realistic, and I know that despite anyone’s best efforts, that we can’t save them all. But shouldn’t we at least try to save, and give a second chance to as many as we can? A few hours a month of your time volunteering can make a huge difference in the lives of so many animals. That is now why I volunteer for TAGS. For those who do not have a voice of their own, let us be their voice.
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We are always looking for more volunteers!
Find out how you can become a part of the TAGS family on our website.