Ways to give back for pet lovers

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There are several opportunities for pet lovers of all ages to volunteer and do their part to help care for local cats and dogs as they look for a new home.

With summer quickly approaching, many teenagers will be looking for ways to get service hours and the St. Johns County Pet Center and St. Augustine Humane Society are avenues to explore.

The pet center is looking for volunteers that will help as caregivers, with duties that include walking, bathing, and socializing with the animals.

A volunteer application can be found by going to co.st-johns.fl.us/animalcontrol/help or further information can be found by calling 904-209-6190.

Certain guidelines are in place for volunteers ages 14-17, including requiring a parent be present. Background checks will be required for all volunteers older than 18.

Walk-in volunteers are not accepted, so a registration must be completed prior to getting started.

Not only are there opportunities to volunteer at the pet center, but volunteers are also always welcome at the various list of animal rescue organizations that the center works closely with, such as Wags & Whiskers Pet Rescue, Inc. and Feline Canopy of Care, both in St. Augustine.

The St. Augustine Humane Society also has several positions and programs for residents to volunteer their time, including its wellness or spay/neuter clinics, dog training program, pet food pantry or as an assistant on the events and fundraising side of things.

“We have a wonderful staff, but we’re reliant on our volunteers,” said Lynn Washington, volunteer coordinator and community relations director with St. Augustine Humane Society.

According to Washington, the St. Augustine Humane Society has a ratio of about three volunteers for every one paid staff member.

The various programs allow for people to pick which best fits with their interest and skill sets or just works best with their everyday schedule and availability.

“We try to make sure that our volunteers have a compassion for animals, which is why my job is to find out feeds a volunteer’s soul,” Washington said.

Volunteers fluctuate in the time they are allowed to help with some able to do more based on their current life situation.

“We have one volunteer who has been here about eight years and volunteers four days a week,” Washington said. “On any given day, we have about six to eight volunteers.”

The humane society’s clinics offer a low-cost option for veterinary treatments with a focus on preventive care, while the food pantry brings in more than 1,900 pounds of donated pet food each month.

A volunteer form can be found by going to staugustinehumanesociety.org and clicking the “volunteer” option under the “get involved” tab.

If there are additional questions or uncertainty regarding which program to volunteer with, a general volunteer application is also available to fill out.

Another way to help animals in need of a home is by joining the non-profit organization called Friends of St. Johns County Pet Center.

As the name implies, the group consists of local pet lovers that came together to help promote animals that are currently looking for a home by spreading the word on Facebook.

The organization consists of 10,000 followers and not only does the group promote adoptions, but they also raise their share of monetary donations that in turn are given to the pet center to directly help the cause.

Various members within the group are known for creating fundraisers on Facebook for special occasions, such as their birthday or other holidays.

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