College program lends local humane society a helping paw
While students undoubtedly enjoy their time spent on the Hill, sometimes they begin to miss the comforts of home: sleeping in a bed larger than a twin, showering without flip flops on, only having to walk downstairs for food and of course, playing with pets. Although it may not be a good idea to go into the showers without shoes on anytime soon, thanks to Paw Pals, it is possible to feel a bit more at home.
Paw Pals is a volunteer program run through the Colby Volunteer Center. It has been around for over eight years. "Many students have pets at home and miss socializing with their dog or cat," Silas Rioux '10, one of the program leaders, said. "Paw Pals is a great way to interact with animals and help out the Waterville community at the same time."
"The Paw Pals program definitely helps us out down here," Susan Wyman, kennel technician at the Humane Society-Waterville Area, said. "We are operating at maximum capacity right now. Our shelter holds 84 cats and 32 dogs, and we're so full that we can't even accept owner surrendered animals."
The Waterville Humane Society takes in many of the animals as strays. "About 90 percent of the animals are strays," Wyman said. "And because we can't take owner surrendered animals, it leads to even more animals being abandoned." The shelter has several other consistent volunteers other than the members of Paw Pals, but there's no such thing as too many helping hands.
Paw Pals is a great experience for any animal lovers here on the Hill. It enables students to not only spend a part of their day socializing with the animals, but, volunteers say, it is also a rewarding experience to know that you are making a difference.
"Most volunteers come mainly to exercise the dogs and socialize with the cats. It's a great stress reliever, especially during finals week. We're also trying to get volunteers to help out more around the shelter with miscellaneous tasks that need to get done, like bathing or feeding the animals, or cleaning their cages," Rioux said.
If you do not have time to spare, but you would still like to lend a helping hand, the shelter also needs supplies. The Humane Society is always in need of donations, including rabbit pellets, kitty litter, cat food, dog food, Frontline, laundry detergent, towels, washcloths and small blankets.
If you are interested in joining Paw Pals, the program coordinators stress that you should not simply go down to the shelter without the proper training. "Believe it or not, handling stray dogs and cats is not as easy as you would think. Many people think that just because they own pets themselves, they don't need to go through any training. This has led to several dangerous incidents in the past, which resulted in several dogs needing to be put down," Rioux said.
Instead, contact one of the leaders, Rioux at email@example.com or Juliette Gorson '11 at firstname.lastname@example.org, to sign up for an orientation to the shelter and to be trained on how to handle the animals.