PAWS Magazine


Issue 49, Summer 2001


Stories of Commitment

reported by Samantha Sherman

Cindy Kirkendall
Senior Wildlife Care Assistant
Lynnwood Wildlife Center

Volunteer coordinator Lauren Glickman says of Cindy “She’s been volunteering since Fall 1999. She’s a Senior Wildlife Care Assistant and she brings in vegan snacks all the time! She’s just a pleasure to have around.”

Cindy says “I initially visited the Advocacy Department seeking resource material for a speech I was working on for a class assignment on Circus Animal Abuse. While I was there, I picked up a volunteer packet and before long I was a volunteer wildlife care assistant.

“I just love volunteering at PAWS. The staff is wonderful, dedicated, and caring. My fellow volunteers are some of the finest people I’ve ever met. Being part of wildlife rehab is very exciting and rewarding. I’d never dreamed of handling raptors or feeding baby wild animals. It’s fantastic! I’ve learned so much about animals and people. I look forward to my shift every week.

“I think I speak for all the volunteers when I say that the experiences we have at the wildlife center are shared and personal. Our common goal is to help with the process of rehabilitating wild animals. Whether we are administering medications to an injured squirrel, tube-feeding an emaciated gull, or cleaning poop from cages, we are all there for the same purpose: we care about wildlife, we care about the world, and we love what PAWS stands for. (And, yes, it makes us feel good.)”

Dan Hamer
Wildlife Care Assistant
Olympic Wildlife Center

Sandy Kernast, volunteer coordinator at the Olympic Wildlife Center in McCleary says “He’s been a volunteer for a little less than a year now, and he’s just great.”

Dan says “I’ve always been very interested in helping injured birds and animals. I’ve brought some home before and discovered that the meeting of human and animal isn’t always a pleasant experience! I started at the Olympic Wildlife Center in October last year after I saw an article in the newspaper.

“At the Center I do miscellaneous things like laundry and dishes, making food for our various guests, changing the bedding and nesting material, taking in new arrivals, answering the phone, catching birds so they can be weighed and examined by the vet. I sweep, take out the trash, do minor maintenance, and ask a lot of questions! I don’t mind some of the “unglamorous” work. The laundry is as important as making sure the baby raccoons have full tummies.

“Speaking of which, just yesterday I handled some bigger raccoons—not adults, but definitely not babies. That was a challenge! They were not in the mood to be handled and fed-- not by me anyway. I got it done with the advice and coaching of a co-volunteer. Without her patience and guidance, I’m afraid those young’uns may not have eaten last night!

“The greatest difficulty I have, though, is trying not to get attached to the animals. How can you not want to talk to a fawn, cuddle a baby opossum, hold a young crow? It’s really the hardest part of my volunteer work, and I’ve been corrected in more than once.

“Working with a porcupine has been the greatest pleasure of my short but fulfilling volunteer career. She was in a room in a trailer during the winter, and I changed her food, water, and bedding. As I moved slowly about the room, she was facing a corner with her quills ready. I never went more than five or six feet from her. She was full-grown and probably in some pain from her injuries.

“I was so impressed with her, and was afraid she wasn’t going to eat her food. There was a small peep hole in the door and I couldn’t help myself, I just had to peek in. Once she saw I was gone, she lumbered over to her plate. Then she picked up a chunk of sweet potato with both front hands and leaned back on her tail for support and commenced porcupining out. That was the first time I’d ever seen a porcupine eat. I had previously seen porcupines strip bark on trees, but I never knew they ate with their hands like that! I just fell in love with her. She was released a week later. When I pass that trailer, I always remember her. I hope she is fine, wherever she is.”

Candy Brown
Bird Nursery Caretaker
Lynnwood Wildlife Center

Volunteer coordinator Lauren Glickman says “She just began her third summer as a Bird Nursery Caretaker. She also helps me train the Bird Nursery Caretakers. She was the “Bird Nursery Caretaker of the Year” last year. We feel lucky that she’s chosen PAWS.”

Candy says “I feed and care for baby birds in the spring and summer. I have also been assisting Lauren Glickman, the Volunteer Coordinator, with teaching Bird Nursery classes. I love volunteering at PAWS! I have been an animal fanatic all my life and have always had pets. (I now have 5 pet birds).

“I first called PAWS after seeing an article in the newspaper about the bears there, with a mention of volunteering at the end of the piece.

“I can’t say enough about the HUGE EFFORT that is made in behalf of the animals that are brought to the Wildlife Center. The chance to help these creatures is a privilege. The opportunity to observe them up close is an awesome experience. Some of my favorite moments include: seeing how quickly the baby birds develop; watching the beautiful feathers and feather patterns emerge (chickadees!); observing specific behaviors each species demonstrates—robins flapping one wing at a time while gaping (gaping is opening their beaks, begging for food); towhees always trying to hop out of their nest baskets while we’re feeding them; BIG baby crows, politely gobbling down food but never biting our fingers; stellar jays in the aviary taking things from our feeding trays and trying to stash them in corners. I could go on and on!

“I have more appreciation for all animals and have become a staunch supporter. My non-PAWS friends joke that they’d better not complain about crows around me or they’ll get a lecture! (There are lots of complaints about crows dive-bombing people this time of year. They do it to protect their babies, just as we would if our children were potentially threatened!)

“I greatly enjoy being with my family, and outdoor activities—hiking, beach walking. I so appreciate the beauty of nature, not only the animals and plants, but the mountains, lakes, Puget Sound, and ocean.

“I have recently retired from my bank job of 26 years. One reason is to give me more time to help with animal and environmental issues. Birds are a huge interest for me right now—an obsession really! I want to help them and learn all I can about them. I am also interested in education. It was my college major and adult education was a focus of my banking career. I’d like to use my education expertise to help further the cause of environmental awareness and animal appreciation.”

Gloria Rameriz
Outreach Volunteer
Advocacy, Outreach, and Development

Volunteer coordinator Denise Cabral says “Gloria has volunteered with PAWS since I started as a volunteer back in 1997. I have worked with Gloria on many different occasions. Whether it be holding onto a dog at a Dog Adoption Event or seeing her talk about PAWS with the public at PAWSwalk or yawning at the very thought of her setting up the PAWS outreach booth on a windy morning at 6am, she is the perfect volunteer. She is friendly, intelligent, has a great sense of humor, and most of all, she’s compassionate. SHE ROCKS! And she also has a great story of how she adopted her purebred Airedale—Meg—from PAWS. She always lets folks know that Meg the purebred came from a shelter.”

Gloria says “I started with PAWS after I saw a flier for PAWSwalk. I participated in animal shelter events years ago in Chicago, which were similar in concept to PAWSwalk. I was so overwhelmed to find so many people with the same love for animals at PAWSwalk that I almost wept.

“I began volunteering as a dog groomer. I had never washed a dog, although I had always loved dogs from afar. But the first dog I bathed was the beginning of a beautiful relationship. The change in the appearance and demeanor of the dog after a bath was dramatic. I loved seeing the joy and thankfulness in the dog’s face.

“I was then promoted from grooming to walking. I walked dogs for a year and a half. As I became more involved I heard about off-site events, which I began participating in, such as Adoption Days. The dogs who get new homes get so happy. I felt elated to know that I was trying to help them find homes. I soon became addicted to offsite events. For some weird reason I like getting up early and hauling equipment to set up. Getting everything set up and standing at the opening of the tent with a cup of coffee and my dog Meg is very satisfying to me.

“Meg is the reason I do this. She was a PAWS dog, and I saw her when I was dog walking. It was love at first site. We want to give back to PAWS and tell people of the good work PAWS is doing. Sometimes I get called on short notice, but I respond, “PAWS calls so I am there.”

Lisa Diment and Beth Kelly
Wildlife Care Assistants
Olympic Wildlife Center

Says Beth “Lisa and I have always been nature buffs. Lisa grew up in southern Washington and often went camping with her father at Mount St. Helen’s. Lisa was also one of those children that brought every stray cat and dog she found home to her parents. Luckily for her, her parents loved animals too and she was able to keep them.

“I didn’t become a real nature person until I went to college in Vermont (I’m from Connecticut). While in Vermont I realized how drawn I was to nature through hiking and mountain biking. When I moved to Washington 10 years ago, I also discovered a passion for birds. Over the past 4 or 5 years I have evolved into a ‘birder.’

“Lisa and I enjoy doing anything outdoors, but our favorite activities are hiking, snowshoeing, kayaking/canoeing and gardening.

“We heard about PAWS in Lynnwood a number of years ago and have had a long-standing interest in wanting to volunteer for the organization. About 9 months ago, Lisa was looking at the PAWS Web site and discovered there was now a facility outside of Olympia. We were very excited to discover this and jumped at the opportunity. Although it is still an hour drive from where we live in Tacoma, it has still been worth our time. PAWS is a reputable organization in wildlife rehabilitation, and we knew we could learn a great deal from this experience that would benefit us in our own long-term goal of being wildlife rehabilitators. So we adjusted our work schedules and started working the Monday 8:00am to 1:00pm shift. We’ve now been with PAWS for 7 months.

“We continue to become more comfortable in the presence of a wide variety of wildlife. There is no hand-holding at PAWS and Lisa and I like that aspect. We were taught how to care for and handle a particular animal or bird, and then were left to dive right in. We are constantly challenged.

“Recently Lisa and I asked if we could do something a little more challenging. We were asked if we wanted to help weigh and give vitamins to the seven baby Barn Owls. We said “sure,” not really knowing what this meant for us. As we entered the enclosure these “baby” (they looked big to me) Barn owls began to move their heads in a very ominous manner. The rehabilitator we were working with then proceeded to tell us how WE were going to capture up these Barn owls. When she said that, WE (for a brief moment) wanted to change our minds about agreeing to this task.

“Barn owls are the most aggressive owls (possibly of all the raptors too?). They come at you first with their talons, which is where you grab to restrain them. We took a deep breath and dove in. Despite their intimidating screams and sharp talons we succeeded. It took about an hour to do the whole process and I must say at the end of this experience we felt like we really accomplished something.

“Lisa and I recently did Senior Volunteer training, which means that we will be able to do more advanced tasks such as tube feeding and giving medications. We are excited to start this new learning and the opportunity to be of more assistance to the staff of PAWS.

“It is unbelievable how much there is to learn about each animal or bird that comes in—from setting up their enclosures, to their diets, to their individual behaviors. The work is certainly not always glamorous, but every task is important for the health of the animal—even the dreaded cleaning of the cages.

“Lisa and I feel different when we are hiking now. We have an even more heightened awareness and respect of the wildlife around us. Even the species that seem so common to us—the squirrels, the gulls, the crows and the opossums. We have new eyes and a new heart for each of these animals. We are grateful for this. It wasn’t something we expected.”

Hector Valadez
Dog Walker
PAWS Companion Animal Shelter

Volunteer coordinator Hilary Anne Exon says of Hector “He is a dog-walker extraordinaire! He’s been there since January 2000 and is awesome. He’s absolutely reliable and kind and funny and always brings treats for fellow volunteers and staff to make the shift a little sweeter. He helps out with adoption events, which involve taking dogs off-site for a few hours on a Saturday and entertain the doggies in the hopes the right person will come along and fall in love with the pooch. He was recently volunteer of the month.”

Hector says “I became involved with the Companion Animal Services in Lynnwood because I like dogs, and want to learn to be a good dog-owner. I can’t have one of my own at the moment, though, since I live in an apartment. I grew up with cats, and never had a dog. When I do get one, I’d like a yellow lab. The dogs I walk are generally well-behaved. I’ve picked up a good bit of knowledge on dogs and dog-handling through volunteering, such as positive reinforcement works better than negative. I use treats, mostly hotdog treats. Praise works better than yelling, or pulling on the dog’s leash. A lot of problem-behavior dogs end up with PAWS because their original owners didn’t give them positive reinforcement, and they became problems.

“Walking dogs is very rewarding for the volunteer and the dog. I’m also a spokesperson for dogs at public events, which I enjoy. PAWS requires dog adopters to have a lot of spare time before they can adopt a dog, to ensure the dogs will receive enough attention. I help answer questions. It’s nice to get out into the public and get the word out.”

Cindy Goldman
Adoption Assistant
PAWS Seattle Cat City

Companion Animal Services volunteer coordinator Hilary Anne Exon had the following words about Cindy “Cindy has worked at Cat City since 11/99 and is one of those volunteers that will rise up from the sick bed to slog her way to Cat City on a rainy day and suffer just because she’s so dedicated and wonderful with the kitties. She makes special toys for the cats and has even on occasion donated money to reduce the adoption fee for special kitties that capture her affections and who haven’t been adopted for a while and need a home. She comes in when there are special projects, like bleaching the whole place down because of an outbreak of upper respiratory infection among the colony. She is always pleasant, and is an incredible help to the staff. She just generally rules.”

Cindy says “I am a morning volunteer at Cat City, so my work mostly involves clean-up. I feed the cats, get rid of old water and food, change litter, sweep, mop, and put down toys, etc. to get ready for people to come in and check out the cats.

“My favorite part of the work is cleaning. I like cleaning, because it’s a vital service to the cats. I like to see they’re as well-fed and healthy as possible.

“I also help with adoptions, although we are so busy cleaning most of the time, that there is little time to interact with potential adopters. When there is time, I can go over the adoption application with people, walk them through the cat area and go over the cats’ histories.

Most of the cats that come into Cat City are strays, although some are owner-surrendered. The longest they generally stay is a couple months. I get very attached to the cats, and it is very, very hard to see them go. The most challenging part of this work is not getting overly-attached. However, I am happy to see them find a home. It is just as hard to see a cat I really like not get adopted. Some people stay in touch and send pictures and letters of the cats, which is great. We keep a photo album of the cats.

“Cats are great companions. I often recommend to adopters to get two cats if they can manage it. Cats are best in pairs, assuming they get along. It is hard for an 8-week old kitten to be alone 8-10 hours a day-it can develop behavioral problems.

“I like people to know Cat City is here in Seattle, that they have somewhere to go in case Lynnwood is too far. All the cats are checked by vets, have shots, and are ready to be adopted.”

Interested in Volunteering at PAWS?
Apply on-line or call PAWS:

Lynnwood/Seattle Opportunities
(425) 787-2500 ext. 838
McCleary/Olympia Opportunities
(360) 495-3337 ext. 208

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