ND volunteers staff local no-kill animal shelter
By LIZ ZANONI
When Kmart employees found five puppies deserted next to a leaky, 30-foot dumpster, they phoned Sebrina Tingley, a staff member in the psychology department, at the Pet Refuge in Mishawaka.
Tingley is one of the many Notre Dame staff, faculty and students involved with Pet Refuge, a non-profit, no-kill, volunteer-operated animal shelter.
"Animals have no advocates; they can't speak for themselves," said Phyllis Shelton-Ball, a romance language department staff member who helps maintain the Pet Refuge Web page. "It is up to the people who care about them."
Pet Refuge has caught the attention of 14 Notre Dame students and staff members who donate their time answering phones, walking dogs, collecting food and even fostering pets until a suitable home is found.
"It amazes me how many Notre Dame people from different parts of campus are involved," said Ester-Mirjam Sent, assistant professor of economics.
Sent, who also helps update the Web page, was shocked that after mentioning Pet Refuge in class, several students approached her to discuss volunteering. "People will support a cause or organization like this, they're just not aware of it," Sent said.
Because Pet Refuge depends completely on its volunteers, the shelter always looks for people to assist in daily operations and long term fundraising activities such as the annual Haunted Trail in October.
"It doesn't have to be a huge time investment," Sent said. Something as simple as collecting Meijer's receipts, used by Pet Refuge to receive free dog food, helps the shelter immensely, she said.
Pet Refuge, which spays and neuters pets and educates the public on pet care and welfare, is unique because it does not euthanize animals. Instead, Adopt-a Pet Day at Pet Refuge brings together animals and potential owners.
During Adopt-a Pet Day, potential owners are interviewed twice before receiving permission to bring an animal home. Pet Refuge is very concerned with placing pets in a loving and caring environment.
"We put a lot of time and money into the animals and we want to give them the best life possible," Tingley said.
Volunteers can take a more active role by fostering an animal until a home is found. The shelter supplies the food and veterinarian care for people willing to foster a pet.
Tingley is fostering five puppies for Pet Refuge. She fostered a dog last year who was then adopted permanently into her family.
"You can learn much more about yourself as you learn about animals," Shelton-Ball said.
She admitted that her adopted dog, Katie, changed the way she and her husband approach life.
Shelton-Ball said volunteering at the Pet Refuge might be especially fulfilling for students who miss their pets at home.
For more information, visit the Pet Refuge Web site at http://www.petrefuge.com or contact Sent. The site features pictures of dogs and cats who need homes or foster care.
All News Stories for Friday, November 5, 1999