What My Shelter Means to Me: Southern Oregon Humane Society

March 1, 2012  

By Terry Sheldon

Our local Southern Oregon Humane Society, Medford, Ore., has been in operation since 1928, and has improved leaps and bounds since then! The mission statement is this: “To improve the lives of pets and people through sustainable programs of education, adoptions and spay/neutering.”

It is a completely non-profit, no-kill facility and depends solely on donations from the very generous people and businesses here in the Rogue Valley and beyond. I have been a volunteer dog walker here for 15-plus years and also do adoption events, mailings, grooming and whatever else is required to help out.

This facility is located in a residential area, is restricted by zoning laws and is legally unable to branch out or up, even though it’s been “grandfathered in” to allow it to remain where it is. We do the best we can to add improvements, and the best of them come in the form of staff-run and volunteer programs, which have improved adoption rates tremendously, mostly due to greater socialization and training of the animals.

There are volunteer programs for youths, created by our crackerjack volunteer manager, Judi Hanstein. We have Pet Partners, where kids ages 12 – 15, accompanied by a parent or guardian, have the opportunity to socialize and play with shelter dogs and cats. This requires a one- to two-hour per week commitment. We also have PALS, where students ages 16 – 20 are matched with dogs or cats that they socialize, play with, groom and exercise. Any hours can be used for graduation requirements, and the students can receive a letter of reference from the volunteer manager for future use. This program requires a three- to five-hour per week commitment.

There are also many volunteer programs for adults, including:

Cat Crew: Our Cat Crew volunteers socialize, entertain and cuddle SOHS cats and kittens waiting to find their forever home.

Dog Handlers: These volunteers keep our canine friends happy and healthy by walking, exercising and socializing these special dogs who are waiting to be adopted.

Kennel Guides: Kennel Guides get to know each dog/cat’s personality and traits to answer customer questions and help match the right animal with their potential new family.

Education Assistants: Those who enjoy working with animals and children can consider volunteering with the education department during one of SOHS’ humane education programs, which teach kindness to all living creatures.

Handy Helpers: Volunteers assist with miscellaneous on-site needs, including laundry, maintenance and landscaping.

Community Outreach: Special events help support the programs, services and mission of SOHS. Community Outreach volunteers participate and help at fundraisers, adoption events and fairs throughout the region.

Mailings: Volunteers help work on bulk mailings. A team leader calls in the “mailing team” when bulk items need to be labeled, folded and stapled to get them ready for mailing.

All volunteers for any of the programs are required to complete a training program in order to work with SOHS animals.

The SOHS’s Saving Train is my favorite of our programs; the Saving Train is a unique shuttle bus re-fitted to transport pets safely. Intake Supervisor Sandra Pogrebinsky and her staff make frequent trips to shelters in neighboring counties to rescue animals who may have been at death’s doorstep due to time and space limitations. All of the animals are temperament tested before they’re brought back to the humane society. Most turn out to be wonderful pets and are quickly adopted into new forever homes.

There is a volunteer Christmas party every year, which I attend, and where I hear horror stories about the way things were at SOHS even as recently as the ‘70s and ‘80s. When I look around at our dedicated and loving staff and volunteers and see the progress that has been made through the years, I realize that any animals that we have would probably be a lot worse off if we didn’t have them. I know that SOHS is a place we can really be proud of, and I hope to be volunteering there for another 15 years!

« « Jail Dogs | When it’s Not Love at First Sight » »

Comments are closed.