It’s Tuesday afternoon at the Humane Society of Ventura County in Ojai, and a group of volunteers from Ojai Valley School have arrived on the scene, ready to help.
Some are playing with dogs outside under the sun, running, jumping and chasing toys. Others are inside an air conditioned room, providing a little love to the cats purring in their laps.
Sophomore Eva Gueguen is one of volunteers, and she’s entered one of the kennels to visit with a friendly, adorable, fuzzy dog named Murphy, who snorts happily and bounds forward.
“I thought he was going to be quiet and shy, but he actually turned out to be really playful and sweet,” Eva said. “I had fun playing with him and I was sad to leave but I am excited to see him next week, if he is still there.”
The Humane Society work is fun, but it’s also really important.
The animals here have been abandoned or abused, and it’s the job of volunteers, like those from Ojai Valley School, to help socialize them in preparation for adoption.
This year, the Humane Society program has 18 OVS students who have already done their training and have a one-year commitment to the program. This is the highest number of OVS volunteers in the past 10 years, and two vans will be taking students to the shelter every Tuesday.
“Students can mainly get two things out of it,” said OVS English teacher Terry Wilson, who oversees the volunteer program. “First of all, this counts as a community service, students feel they are doing something useful and worthwhile. Besides, for the resident students, it is really nice to go and be able to hug a dog or cat, and just a way to find a happy moment with animals.”
The Humane Society’s mission is to stop animal suffering due to cruelty or other reasons. People can bring animals they have found to the Humane Society shelter, and they also can adopt animals from there.
Recently, the Humane Society of Ventura County rescued 14 dogs out of a nearby kill shelter; now they live in this non-kill shelter, and will stay there until they are adopted.
Anybody who wants to can volunteer at the shelter, however, those under the age of 16 must be accompanied by an adult.
“There are some students who have done this for a number of years,” Mrs. Wilson, “like Thomas and Gabe, who also go down during the summer and weekends, not just only with our group.”
Senior Thomas Christopher started volunteer in Humane Society in seventh grade.
“I like animals, that the whole reason behind it,” Thomas said. “It is more therapeutic for me than it is for animals”
The more students who go to the Humane Society events, the more emotional attachment they have for the animals.
Junior Gabe Weisiger just started visiting the Ojai shelter this past summer.
“It is a fun place to be, because we can play with dogs and walk dogs around,” Gabe said.
The experience of participating in the Humane Society can be written into the recommendation letter for college applications as a plus point for colleges. But most students choose to take part in the program once a week because they want to help theses abused and abandoned animals find new homes.
“It is nice just hanging out with animals, even just sitting with them,” Thomas said, “They seem to enjoy it.”Share