by Barry KuKes
Like most non-profit organizations, Halifax Humane Society (HHS) relies on the donation of time and labor from people who wish to volunteer to help our community’s animals. During COVID, HHS asked any volunteers with underlying illnesses or considered high-risk to stay home to maintain social distancing as recommended by the CDC.
Now that many of our volunteers have been vaccinated and feel more comfortable going out and about, they are returning to their volunteer roles. We are delighted to have our volunteers back, but we still request that they wear a mask and maintain social distancing when indoors.
If you are interested in volunteering your time to help the animals, we will always welcome new people to the program. In-person training classes have started up again and are also available online at www.hal ifaxhumanesociety.org
Every volunteer is required to take the Orientation Class to be educated about the history of HHS and the opportunities available for volunteers. After this class is completed, the volunteer can take courses of interest to them for specific volunteer tasks like dog walking, enrichment, fostering, etc.
HHS also offers senior living facilities dog companion visits. These visits are not accredited therapy dog visits, but just our volunteers and their well-behaved dogs visiting residents of retirement and senior establishments. I have taken the HHS Ambassador dogs, Max and Bentley, to several facilities, and the residents are so happy to see and pet them. It’s nice to brighten someone else’s day, if only for a few minutes.
If you would have a well-behaved dog that loves people and would be an excellent visitation dog, please sign up to become a volunteer. Only volunteers are allowed to participate in this program and are re-sponsible for themselves and their dogs’ behavior. Please do not apply if your dog is “good most of the time.” The dog needs to be good all of the time, no matter what the circumstance. Our current Ambassador Dogs attend our Spring and Summer Kids Camps and have kids hugging and lying on them, pulling their tails and ears, shouting loudly, making unexpected moves, etc., and the dogs are perfectly behaved.
Although seniors are not as active as young children, things can happen at a senior resident center, such as alarms going off, residents disoriented and shouting, and other possible actions that might spook a dog that is not accustomed to said environment. We would love your help, but your dog needs to be a pro, so only apply for this position if you are confident of your dogs’ abilities.
We currently service three senior facilities with dog visits. All volunteers must have been vaccinated, per the facility’s re-quirements, wear a mask, and their dog must be up-to-date on their vaccines (rabies, distemper, etc.). Volunteers can sign up for as many or as few visits as they desire.
For information about when the next in-person Orientation Class will be available, contact volunteermanager@halifax humanesociety.org or call 386.274.4703, ext. 319.
Barry KuKes is the Community Outreach Director for the Halifax Humane Society. You can reach Barry at 386.274. 4703, ext. 320, or BarryK@halifaxhumane society.org