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Planning to volunteer, any advice?

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 
So I took the plunge and got a volunteer application at our local shelter today. Does anyone here work or volunteer at a shelter? Anything I should know before I jump into it?
post #2 of 18
Be aware of the contagions you can bring home to your kitties! Keep them UTD on shots. You can bring home distemper on your shoes, ringworm on your clothes, etc. I always take off my shoes before coming into the house/immediately after entering - take my clothes off & wash them ASAP (straight into the washer!). There are times where I also shower immediately after coming home.

It's not easy all the time, sometimes you see things that want to make you kill people. You'll learn when it is appropriate & when it is not to say something. Be aware stupid people will say stupid things - just be nice to their face (I'm the one cussing them out when they're gone!).
post #3 of 18
Thread Starter 
Hmm, judging by the way I posted in the Cat SOS forum about that creep of a child and what he did to his cat, maybe telling someone I want to stuff them feet-first into a meat grinder is one of those "non appropriate" moments

Didn't know I could bring the distemper disease in on shoes! Thanks for the warning! What about fleas? (My cats have none since they're strictly indoors). Are there any shots that are generally only given to indoor/outdoor cats that I should get for mine? (I know Rabies is one but are there others?)
post #4 of 18
I don't vaccinate for Feline Leukemia - IMO it's useless (I have indoor & outdoor cats). My guys have rabies & distemper combo.

Fleas you can get & bring home - yes. That said, I've handled flea/tick laden cats & dogs before - and never brought any home. Now my foster kittens? They brought them home.
post #5 of 18
Thread Starter 
Just curious, but why is the feline leukemia shot useless?
post #6 of 18
Originally Posted by Sparkie View Post
Just curious, but why is the feline leukemia shot useless?
I was going to ask the same thing. Dusty is due for her annual vet visit, and I will make an appt. tomorrow.
post #7 of 18
Originally Posted by white cat lover View Post
I don't vaccinate for Feline Leukemia - IMO it's useless (I have indoor & outdoor cats).
Actually, while it is not 100% effective, when I had 2 kittens come into my house with FeLV (they were supposedly tested), only 1 of my 11 cats contracted it from them, and that after 8 months of living together. Had I not vaccinated my other cats, then the odds would have been 4 out of 11 getting it. So it did save lives in my household.

However, FeLV is not casually spread, and is very fragile outside of its host. So the odds of you bringing it home are slim to none. If your cats are indoors and not exposed to outdoor cats, then for that reason, I would consider not having it.

FIV on the other hand is actually a very bad idea. If your cat was vaccinated for FIV and a FIV test is run afterwards, the cat will test positive. You would never know if your cat actually had the disease.
post #8 of 18
I agree with momofmany - the only time I would vaccinate for FeLV is if there are other cats in the house who are FeLV+. None of my outdoor kitties have the FeLV vaccine -as they are fixed, and I rarely have any strays show up anymore. They're too lazy to leave my yard.

FeLV isn't something you can bring home as easily as say distemper. For indoor only cats (or even in the case of my outdoor cats), FeLV vaccine in not necessary, IMO.
post #9 of 18
You can also bring home the not so nasty but still a pain in the butt illnesses like upper respiratory infections, no big deal usually if your cat is otherwise healthy (a cold in cats) but for older cats or one with a lower immune system it can be pretty bad and end up with a vet visit for fluids
post #10 of 18
Thread Starter 
Well, I'll be sure to leave my shoes outside, wash my clothes immediately and take a hot shower before I touch my furbabies to help minimize the chance that they'd catch something!

Is there anything that people can catch from cats or dogs that I should be aware of? (Mostly I'd probably work with cats since I'm really allergic to dogs!)
post #11 of 18
You could catch ringworm but I would hope a shelter would make you aware of any illnesses a cat has that could be transferred
post #12 of 18
Thread Starter 
Thank you! I'll do my best to take every precaution you all mentioned in this thread so that I don't bring home any nasties to my furkids!
post #13 of 18
Also - be prepared to toughen up. As Natalie (white cat lover) said, you are going to see and hear things that will make your blood boil. And you are going to want to take at LEAST every other cat home with you.

But you will also find it rewarding when an animal and a human are a match! You'll be glad and maybe cry a little when a fave cat or dog goes into a good home. And you will get attached.
post #14 of 18
basically what everyone else said, and make sure you wash all your clothes right away you dont want to give anything to your pets, keep us posted on how it goes!
post #15 of 18
Thread Starter 
See, that's what I'm afraid of

I might act casual and easygoing on the outside, but on the inside, I'm going to want to snap somebody's neck if they mistreat an animal. Or I'll be a big, sloppy ball of guilt if some get PTS and I'll feel like I could've done something more.

Any ideas for building up that toughness? I am SUCH a softie for cats that sometimes I fear being a volunteer like this will eat my emotions alive. On the other hand, I feel like I need to eat some grit and toughen up.

The last thing I want is to look like a complete moron in front of these nice folks. I just want to help
post #16 of 18
The problem with shelters is, if you treat these people like dirt, they will leave with their animal and carry on mistreating it. They don't learn and they just think you are rude, tell everyone that and then people who want to volunteer or bring their animal (or a stray) for the right reasons are put off the shelter so you always have to put the shelter first
post #17 of 18
to get over the fact that i volunteer at a kill shelter im only going to do it 1x per week, so i dont get too attached and may not remember if someone is missing

it is sad tho...on my 1st day i almost cried, this one looked at me with that look
post #18 of 18
Thread Starter 
Yes, that's probably all I'd do too, maybe two days a week for a couple hours each time.

I can tell that it affects the people here terribly. Some of their faces look like stone. Maybe I can convince them to do like mrblanche does, posting youtube videos and photos to help kitties get adopted.

Sometimes too, I think the biggest reason animals get turned in to the shelter is simply a lack of education. Sure, the shelter sends you home with a little packet but it is NOT "Life's little instruction book for cats".

I understand some reasons are beyond people's control - but it wouldn't hurt to have:
- A list of pet-friendly places to stay (isn't there a website for this?)
- What to do if your child/family member develops allergies (I have had them since I was 10 and it never stopped me from owning cats - up to 6 at once!)
- What to do if you simply don't want your pet anymore (what NOT to do is tell me so! lol)

Some people are simply too lazy or simply don't know - so they bring them in thinking the shelter will handle it.
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