‘This all affects the animals’: Humane Society looking for more volunteers

Published 6:22 pm Monday, August 15, 2022

Looking for something to do? Dee Amberg has an idea: volunteer.

That’s because Amberg, a volunteer at the Humane Society of Freeborn County, said the Humane Society was experiencing a shortage of volunteers, donors and people fostering and adopting animals. She also noticed an uptick in animals coming into the shelter coming off of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It’s not just happening at our humane society, it’s happening at every humane society, rescue, across the country,” she said.

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She believed that during that time, people were more focused on the safety of themselves and their families. And she said some people have stayed focused on their own situations.

“Now that the pandemic is over we need to go back to looking more big picture as to what can we be doing, not only for ourselves, but to help our community,” she said.

Amberg said currently some of the shelter’s volunteers either work at schools or are students in a school system, meaning they’re returning to their studies.

And because the shelter is full, they need more volunteers, though she did not have a set number in mind. She said the volunteer shortage has been a problem for about the last year when people noticed donations were falling and they were receiving a higher number of calls to help animals.

With fewer volunteers, the ones they do have are facing more work.

“I used to volunteer here one day a week,” she said. “Now I’m up to three days a week.”

While she does not want to make adjustments, some extra help would be appreciated. She also did not want to speculate on what could happen if the shelter did not get more volunteers.

Currently, 12 volunteers work in animal care at the shelter. Ideally she would like there to be five or six people working animal care in the shelter every day.

According to Amberg, if shelters were not adequately staffed, corners could be cut.

“Sometimes if you’re cleaning or whatever, maybe there’s something that you’ll miss or you’ll skip,” she said. “Or you have a sick animal, but because you’re in such a hurry you don’t hear who’s sneezing, or you might miss who’s not eating, something like that.”

And she did not want to cut down on the quality of care the shelter provides its animals.

“The bottom line is that this all affects the animals — they’re the ones in the cages,” she said. “At the end of the day, whatever we do or don’t do affects them.

“I can pick up extra days, I can go home tired,” she said. “But I have to go home knowing that I gave them my 100% every day, because they deserve that.”

Anyone interested in volunteering at the Humane Society of Freeborn County can visit freeborncountyhs.org or call 507-377-8501. They can also reach out at the Humane Society’s Facebook page.

“We need people to help us with cats, we need people to help us with dogs and it would be nice if we could find someone who would like to come in a few hours and help us with laundry,” she said. “We’re only asking to start as a one-day commitment.”

Prospective volunteers can pick their own days.

“Volunteering is a wonderful, wonderful, wonderful thing to do,” she said. “You play such an intricate part in the care of these cats and dogs every day.

“You’re not just scooping litter boxes or washing dishes. You’re hands-on with that animal. You’re the one that’s noticing any little thing that might be going on with them. You’re bonding with them.”

Amberg herself has been volunteering for 20 years, 19 of them fostering. She started at the Humane Society of Freeborn County when the shelter first opened back in 2009.