Story by Erin Berge
The Shelter Helper Team at the Seattle Animal Shelter washes dirty blankets, towels and water and food bowls during its weekly shifts. Although these chores are not exciting, the Shelter Helper Team is critical to SAS, according to interim volunteer supervisor Laura Mundy.
“Shelter helpers bring order to the ‘back of the house’ and set the stage for a productive work day,” said Mundy.
Currently, there are 15 shelter helper volunteers who allow SAS staff to focus on tasks like setting up adoption papers for new pet owners, reuniting animals with their owners or counseling potential adopters, Mundy said.
Shelter helper volunteer Nan Wonderly said whether directly or indirectly, she knows she is helping SAS’ animals.
“That makes me smile,” said Wonderly.
Starting as an SAS dog walker volunteer, Wonderly ended one of her shifts by filling Kongs and chew toys. As she also folded laundry and prepped dirty bowls for the dishwasher, Wonderly realized how important the shelter helper role was. Shortly after, SAS started recruiting for shelter helper volunteers.
“I worked in the position organically. It was from seeing a need and filling it,” said Wonderly.
In a two-hour shift, Wonderly sometimes generates seven or eight loads of clean laundry, washes all the food and water bowls and litter boxes sterilizes critter habitats. Some tasks are worse than others, and, to Wonderly, cleaning litter boxes is called “doing the nasty.”
“But when I’m done with them, they are C-L-E-A-N,” said Wonderly.
SAS has only a small space available for laundry and storage, but, despite the space constraints, the Shelter Helper Team uses the back room efficiently. Wonderly looks forward to volunteering with the Shelter Helper and other SAS teams every shift.
“What you find out quite quickly is that it’s a great group of people. The staff and the volunteers all interact smoothly, and it’s a friendly place,” said Wonderly.
According to Mundy, the shelter helpers are the “right arms” of SAS.
To be a part of the growing Shelter Helper Team and help keep the SAS running smoothly, fill out this online application.