A Look at Local Volunteer Opportunities to Help Animals

(Editor’s Note: The following is the third article in an ongoing series of articles that look at where students can and are volunteering their time.)

If you’re in search of volunteer opportunities and love animals, Jackson County just might have the option you’re looking for.

The Jackson County Humane Society and Animal Shelter are both in need of volunteers and offer a variety of ways in which you can help some local furry friends. Both organizations provide essential animal care services that can always benefit from volunteer help.

The Jackson County Animal Shelter has been a service to animals since the early 1980’s. It is an organization that primarily offers animal control and rabies control to prevent the spread of diseases. Secondly, the shelter focuses on animal adoption

An Animal Shelter volunteer could engage in simple tasks such as taking the animals for walks, bathing them, or just taming them by giving them some much needed human attention.

Finding homes for all the animals is not always an easy task. Each year about one thousand cats and dogs are rescued and overtime, almost half of them are put to sleep, which only gives the shelter a 50% adoption rate.

Volunteering to spend time with the animals would not only help the staff, but it could really benefit the animal’s chances of adoption. “Its nice when [the animals] get exposed to people so they can become more adoptable and not get put to sleep,” said the shelters Animal Control Officer, Melissa Bartlett.

The shelter currently has two steady volunteers that come in twice a week to assist and pamper the animals. The volunteers are both students attending Western Carolina University and have been volunteering with the shelter for many months.

With only two WCU students volunteering at the moment, the shelter has room for more volunteer help.

“We can always use help,” said Bartlett.

While the animal shelter offers a great service, the Jackson County Humane Society also greatly provides for its local animals.

The Humane Society offers discount spay/neuter services through Asheville Humane Alliance to prevent an overload of unwanted pets. They also have a professional trainer that helps people deal with problem animals, especially dogs.

Its main goal is to help people keep and rescue dogs and cats. The organization tries to enable people to cover the costs of vaccinating, treating, and altering animals and then giving them a place to stay while they try to find homes for them.

The Humane Society is always in need of volunteers willing to help with the monthly spay/ neuter trip on Monday mornings between 8 and 9:30am. Volunteers will load up animals in crates, label them, and send them to the Asheville Humane Alliance for a low-cost spay/ neuter. The next day at noon, the animals return, and there is always a need for help with cleaning out the crates, checking out the dogs, and putting supplies away.

They are also in need of fundraisers for the organizations, as well as people who can build pens and repair fences. Publicity is also an issue, so anyone able to assist would also be of great use. Volunteers that could go to schools and talk about the importance of spay and neuter would be a great help as well. There is also always a great need for animal foster parents.

“At the moment we don’t have Western students volunteering. We have about 8 regular volunteers and some who come down occasionally. In the past we have had WCU students come to help walk dogs on Saturdays,” said Vice President of the organization, Mary Adams.

The Humane Society receives great help from the community but could certainly benefit from more volunteers.

“We are always in great need of volunteers,” said Adams. “We especially need people who like to work, have lots of patience, and want to make a real commitment to animals.”

Both organizations are grateful for any volunteer help and are eager to work with newcomers.

If you would like to work with the Jackson County Animal Shelter, you can contact Melissa Bartlett at phone number (828) 586-6138 or via email at littlebithawkins1@yahoo.com

If you are interested in the Jackson County Humane Society, you can contact Mary Adams at phone number (828) 227-3921 or via email at madams@email.wcu.edu.