Brown County Humane Society is a volunteer-powered organization. Thanks to the good folks who walk the dogs, cuddle the cats, clean the kennels, and get the word out about the shelter and its services, the cats and dogs at BCHS enjoy a safe, clean place to rest while they await their forever homes. Volunteers play a major role in achieving BCHS’s impressive save rate of over 95% of the animals who come to the shelter.

If you’ve ever considered volunteering at Brown County Humane Society, you might like to hear from a few people who already do:

Erika Imhoof, the Volunteer Program Manager and Communications Manager, has worked as an animal advocate for 10 years. She is passionate about animal welfare and ensuring that every cat and dog finds a safe, happy home. “My favorite part of volunteering for an animal shelter is watching people and animals ‘find’ each other,” Imhoof says. “I believe that animals are just as important in our lives as we are in theirs, and seeing people make that connection is wonderful.”

Emily Bray is a member of the marketing committee and the graphic design team, and she used to provide weekly cat care at Petco in Bloomington, where cats from BCHS are available for adoption. “Volunteering in general helps you to focus on needs other than your own, and I find this very valuable to my sense of well-being in a world that can be so individualistic and often self-absorbed,” says Bray. She loves to see “the joy that animals bring to peoples’ lives (and vice versa),” and she enjoys working alongside the other volunteers and staff. “The people who gravitate towards animal welfare are all of an incredibly empathetic, resilient, and welcoming nature. Working with such good people is a reward in and of itself.”

Colleen Costello has volunteered at Petco every week for almost four years. “I knew volunteering with the cats would be something I could always enjoy, and since the shelter is too far a commute from my home, the Petco job made sense for me.” A lifelong lover of cats, Costello enjoys pampering the cats at Petco. “Making sure their boxes are clean, making sure they have clean bedding, and feeding and brushing them makes me happy. I always remind them they will be in a forever home soon.” Her favorite volunteering moment involved matching a sleepy kitten named Pickle with the person of his dreams: “I told him that even though Pickle was sound asleep, he was a really sweet and loving cat. The young man picked up Pickle and basically fell in love. He adopted him that evening!” She later received a photo of Pickle sound asleep on his new guardian’s bed. “I felt like such a matchmaker… I was able to facilitate this happy union, and getting that photo later made me cry.”

As a foster care volunteer, Sarah Torbeck spent several weeks socializing four shy kittens. In a quiet room of their own, the kittens learned to trust humans. “They needed extra time and attention in order to blossom from terrified balls of fluff into outgoing, friendly, cuddly kittens,” Torbeck says. The care and effort paid off, and all four kittens quickly found forever homes once they returned to the shelter.

Christopher Chapman works with the dogs at the shelter. He especially enjoys introducing pups to prospective adopters at events like the Chocolate Walk, one of the yearly fundraisers for BCHS. Chapman encourages those who are interested in volunteering to try it and experience the joy of finding homes for their furry friends.

There are plenty of things to do as a volunteer at BCHS, from foster care to behavior training to building maintenance to fundraising to stuffing envelopes. “No matter what your skill set is or your time commitment, there is a spot for you!” says Bray. You can help animals even if you are allergic to them: “Work for the marketing committee! Or another committee. You can write blog posts or newspaper articles, help run social media accounts, help make graphics, deliver flyers, or even help with ideas for planning events. The best part is that a lot of these can be done in your own home!”

“My advice for folks who think they would enjoy volunteering is to try it,” says Costello. “There is literally nothing to lose!”