Note: This story appears in the Thursday, June 13 newspaper on Page A1.
MILLFIELD — Calling all dog lovers: Friends of the Shelter Dogs is seeking new volunteers to help adoptable dogs in Athens County this summer.
FOSD is a nonprofit organization that offers services to animals in the Athens County Dog Shelter. The group covers veterinarian costs for sick and injured shelter dogs, provides foster homes to dogs awaiting adoption, assists with the Shelter Spay & Neuter program and markets dogs available for adoption.
Volunteers are needed to complete a wide variety of tasks, from playing with dogs at the Athens County Dog Shelter to planning events. Mindy Oehlers, the volunteer coordinator for the Friends group, said there is a need for dog walkers this summer. The majority of dog walkers during the school year are Ohio University students, but this leaves a gap during the summer months.
The organization is also always in need of volunteers that are able to foster dogs, Oehlers said, which involves keeping a dog in the volunteer’s own home for around one to two weeks. There are also opportunities for overnight-only fostering, and as well as long-term fostering that can extend to one month or longer. Dog sitters are also needed to watch foster dogs when caregivers are out of town. FOSD will cover veterinary expenses for fostered dogs.
There are a variety of other tasks available for volunteers who are unable to become foster caretakers or dog walkers. Volunteers are needed to transport dogs from Athens to other rescues in the state, and to clean and prepare crates between transports. FOSD also needs assistance gathering information about shelter dogs that need to be sent to rescues, transporting dogs to veterinarian appointments and planning fundraising events.
Interested volunteers must fill out the shelter’s volunteer form and complete a training program before they can begin working with the shelter’s animals.
Oehlers said the training primarily involves learning about safe dog handling. This includes proper ways to take dogs out of crates and buildings, the correct manner to hold a leash and how to deal with unexpected situations. New volunteers also have a chance to tour the Athens County Dog Shelter facility, meet some of the dogs and shadow experienced volunteers.
While Oehlers understands that volunteering and working with shelter dogs may sound intimidating at first, she feels FOSD’s message and the Athens County facilities combine to create a worthwhile experience for everyone involved.
“We believe dogs are pretty much the best thing in the world,” Oehlers said. “The Athens County Sheriff’s Office has done a fantastic job (running the shelter) so it’s not as bad as people might think. It’s very rewarding for both the dogs and the volunteers.”