Contributed by Laura Jackson, OHS Group & Education Coordinator
People often ask me what our group volunteers do. Even regular volunteers, who give their time every week at OHS, don’t often get to see groups in action.
The larger groups are more visible, helping with projects like maintaining the dog-walking path. Though less visible, the smaller groups have an impact on the shelter animals, too. One of the main things that small (six to eight people) groups do at OHS is help socialize shelter animals.
What is animal socialization? It may not sound like “work,” because yes, it involves spending time with animals. Which is what we all want to do, right? All the same, it’s important, because it has a big impact on the animals and helps them find homes.
Pictured at left is Dollar. She is a young pit bull mix who came to OHS via the Second Chance program from Madera County Animal Services earlier in August. She received her spay surgery at OHS, and at that time they also removed a lump from her cheek which had been causing her some discomfort.
On a recent day, Dollar was sitting in her kennel, looking sad and stressed. Staff and volunteers had noted that she was shy and fearful. That same day, OHS had a scheduled group of volunteers coming to visit from Cambia Health.
After talking with the group members during their educational tour, I found out that two of them had experience with pitties, and I wondered if maybe they could help her come out of her shell, if only for a minute.
Back at her kennel, Dollar willingly put her head into my slip lead and walked at my side to one of the outdoor dog runs where the group was waiting. I let her loose and watched her as she explored the run, cautiously, and approached the two volunteers. They talked to her, calling her “pretty girl,” and she slowly continued to approach them.
They let Dollar go at her own speed, and she allowed them to pet her back. About ten minutes in, Lola climbed onto the bench, and ultimately gave them her belly to be rubbed, falling fast asleep and blowing drool-bubbles.
This was great socialization for Dollar, as well as being a rewarding experience for the volunteers themselves. Dollar was much more approachable for the regular dog-walking volunteers who took her out later that afternoon, and it gave OHS more information to put in her adoption profile.
Group volunteers truly do make a difference! At time of this publication, Dollar is meeting with potential adopters—and they will have this added information about helping Dollar come out of her shell.
More Recent Photos from Group Visits
All dogs pictured below have since been adopted.
OHS welcomes groups of volunteers for one-time visits. These groups come from community organizations or clubs, and especially companies who offer workplace volunteering or team-building opportunities. These groups learn about the shelter and work on a particular project during their visit.