By LOIS KINDLE
The Critter Adoption and Rescue Effort Animal shelter in Ruskin is in need of volunteers, especially in its cattery critical.
If you love dogs and/or cats and are at least 16 years old, you can make a huge contribution to this small nonprofit organization by volunteering just a few hours a week. It’s also a perfect way for seniors to find a meaningful way to get out of the house and serve the community.
“We are a 501(c) 3 public charity, and we couldn’t operate this shelter without our volunteers,” said C.A.R.E. Board President Joann With. “We are grateful to folks who can give up to four hours each week, and we try to be as flexible as we can to accommodate their schedules.”
If felines are your thing, you have a choice of three shifts: early morning from 7 or 8 to 10 a.m.; mid-morning from 10 a.m. to noon; or afternoon from 1 to 3 p.m.
Early morning volunteers feed the cats and kittens, wipe down hard surfaces, clean litter boxes, sweep and mop floors and spend time petting and socializing the felines.
Mid-morning volunteers primarily spend time playing with the cats and kittens, helping them be comfortable in their environment and with people and giving them some love. They also do some cleaning, as needed, and show the felines to potential adopters.
During the afternoon shift, volunteers check litter boxes, provide fresh water, clean, sweep and do some laundering (if needed), socialize the animals and show them to potential adopters.
“Our goal is to have four volunteers per shift, seven days a week,” said Karen Transue, C.A.R.E. office/ volunteer administrator. “My biggest challenge is filling the early morning shift. We try to be as flexible as we can with scheduling.”
Currently there are openings on Sunday, Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
“It’s enjoyable to get to know every cat and its unique personality, said Beth Stein, C.A.R.E. board member and five-year volunteer. “My work there is to hopefully make their stay at the shelter as comfortable and short as possible and help them find a forever home.”
If you’re more into canines, the shifts and jobs are a bit different. They’re from 7 to 11 a.m. and 12 to 4 p.m.
Morning shift volunteers set up the outdoor kennels and fill water buckets; take the dogs from the indoor kennels to the play yards to do their business, and then return them to the outdoor kennels; socialize them with play time and exercise; show caring and affection; clean the indoor kennels; wash towels; and show the dogs to potential adopters.
In the afternoon, volunteers prepare indoor kennels for the night; place food and water in them; take dogs from the outdoor kennels to the yards for socialization and elimination, and then bring them to the indoor kennels; clean the outdoor kennels, as needed; do poop patrol; assist with laundering, if needed; and show the dogs to prospective owners.
John Fischer, 86, C.A.R.E. board vice president and 18 year volunteer, works exclusively with dogs when he’s at the shelter.
He finds it both engaging and fun.
“It’s better than working with people,” he said, chuckling. “It’s interesting to watch the dogs and their antics. Their personalities are all so different.”
All that’s required to become a C.A.R.E. volunteer is an ability and desire to work with; the ability to work independently, follow a full schedule of duties and commit to them; have good communication skills; and be able to handle dogs of all sizes.
C.A.R.E. also is hiring a part-time maintenance/kennel shift lead and part-time kennel shift lead for 20 to 30 hours per week.
“Come in, take a tour and learn more about how volunteers help us and what we do,” With said.
For more information, visit www.careshelter.org or call 813-645-2273 between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.