Arline Gregoire, a rehabilitation volunteer at the Animal Welfare Eastside Shelter clinic, walks Buddy, a 12-year-old cocker spaniel recovering from surgery. (Adolphe Pierre-Louis/)
Copyright © 2022
Arline Gregoire’s retirement has gone to the dogs.
Hundreds of them, in fact.
The onetime schoolteacher spends 25 to 28 hours of each week volunteering at the Albuquerque Animal Welfare clinic. Most weekday afternoons she can be found walking the dogs who need physical therapy. She also cleans the kennels and assists staff working at the clinic. She started out at the city kennel 11 years ago and migrated over to the clinic.
Gregoire has two cats at home.
“They are not fans of dogs,” she said. “They get relegated to the back room when my granddogs come over. I started volunteering because it was my dog fix.”
Desiree Crawley, marketing manager for the city’s Animal Welfare, said running the department would be difficult without the help of volunteers like Gregoire, whose husband also volunteers at the clinic.
“It’s a great team effort,” she said. “I encourage everybody, if you have just a little time and a love of pets, this is a great place to come volunteer.”
National Volunteer Week begins Sunday, April 17. Crawley said throughout the week they will have giveaways and activities to thank their volunteers, who help in myriad ways.
Like Gregoire, they walk dogs but they also cuddle cats, help do laundry, organize the office, help supervise the play groups, clean the kennels and anything else that is needed. There is also a potty brigade, a group that comes in every morning before they head to work to take the dogs out to use the bathroom.
Volunteering at the shelters isn’t the only way to help. The shelter also needs fosters, people who can transport pets to other states and people willing to take the dogs on daily field trips, which is something Gregoire and her husband do.
It’s not all about the dogs.
Jim Matthews is a longtime volunteer in the department’s Fraidy Cat program, which he helped launch with other volunteers. He is semi-retired from his custom furniture-making business.
Volunteers in the Fraidy Cat program foster and work with shy cats with the help of a cat behaviorist. The goal is to get the animals adopted. Matthews fosters and volunteers at the shelter seven to nine hours a week helping train other volunteers.
“It’s very rewarding to do,” he said. “When you get a cat to come around and be friendly or find them just the right home, it feels good.”
Crawley said they ask volunteers for a commitment of six hours a month.
“If you have a special talent, share it with us,” she said. “We would love to utilize it. The end result is you are making a difference.”
To sign up as a volunteer or to learn more, visit cabq.gov/pets and click on the “Volunteer, Foster & Donate” tab to the left.
“The Good News File” is a series of uplifting stories in partnership with KOAT-TV and KKOB Radio. The Journal will publish a “Good News” feature the first Friday of the month, KOAT-TV will present its feature each second Friday and KKOB each third Friday.