By Dr. Beth Leermakers
If you’re passionate about animals and want to make a difference in their lives, consider volunteering at one (or more) of the many animal rescue organizations in the DFW area. Volunteer opportunities include hands-on animal care, photographing the animals to help them find homes, marketing and public relations (social media), and planning or helping at special events, so there’s something for everyone. You may prefer to spend your time with an organization that helps people through interactions with animals. Local hospitals and hospice organizations often need people with certified therapy dogs to visit residents. Here are just a few local animal organizations looking for dedicated volunteers. For more opportunities, visit volunteermatch.org:
Throwaway Ponies (throwawayponies.org). Throwaway Ponies rescues horses in need, rehabilitates them and finds adoptive homes for some of them. They provide a permanent sanctuary for others. Throwaway Ponies, in Farmersville, needs people to help feed the horses — perfect if you have a spare hour or two per week. If you want to be more involved, join TeamHorse and work one on one with a horse to help him/her get adopted. There’s a monthly fee and time commitment for this fun program. In return you’ll receive valuable training from experienced horse people. Throwaway Ponies also needs people to help plan and execute fund raisers. It costs $100/month to provide basic care for each horse, and the rescue group has more than 60 horses in their care!
Equest (equest.org). Equest’s mission is to “enhance the quality of life for children and adults with diverse needs using horses to bring hope and healing through equine-assisted activities and therapies.” Volunteers at Equest’s Texas Horse Park facility (south Dallas) can be side walkers or leaders during therapeutic riding lessons and/or barn helpers who care for the horses. Volunteers can plan and execute special events, perform administrative duties and tackle handyman/handywoman projects. Equest volunteers have the opportunity to take riding lessons (beginners to more experienced riders). Visit the Equest website for more information and to apply and sign up for volunteer training.
Texas Metro Wildlife Rehabilitators (txmetrowildlife.org). This organization rescues, rehabilitates and then releases ill, injured or orphaned native wildlife back to their natural habitats. Texas Metro Wildlife Rehabilitators rescues small mammals like cottontails, opossums, squirrels, raccoons, bats and skunks. They need foster parents to feed, care for and monitor growth of orphaned babies, under the supervision and training of a state-permitted wildlife rehabilitator. They also need people to transport animals, photograph them for the website, assist with fundraising and make presentations to organizations that want to learn about the group’s mission.
In Sync Exotics Wildlife Rescue and Educational Center (insyncexotics.org). In Sync Exotics rescues neglected, abused and unwanted exotic felines (lions, tigers, leopards, cougars, cheetahs, bobcats and some smaller cats). Upon approval and after meeting certain requirements, volunteers can help feed and train the cats and serve as cat companions. If you don’t want to be quite so close to the big kitties, you can guide tours, help with special events, or perform landscaping, cleaning/maintenance or enclosure-building tasks. If you haven’t visited this amazing sanctuary (in Wylie), it’s worth a trip!
Cats and Dogs
Passport for Paws (facebook.com/Passport-For-Paws or [email protected]). Passport for Paws sends dogs and cats to rescue groups in Minnesota, where there are fewer shelter animals and plenty of people who want to adopt a shelter/rescue pet. Passport for Paws needs short-term foster parents in the DFW area to care for the cats and dogs until transport (usually ranges from 2 – 25 days). The animals are vaccinated and the rescue group pays all vet bills. They can loan you a crate (if needed) and even supply food. Passport for Paws also needs DFW-area transport volunteers to pick up animals at the shelter and drop them off at the vet, boarding or foster home.
I love doing “freedom rides” from the shelter. There’s nothing more rewarding to me than playing a role in saving a life!
White Rock Dog Rescue (whiterockdog.org). Dedicated to saving animals found in East Dallas and around White Rock Lake, White Rock Dog needs foster parents and people to assist at adoption events and with transport.
Dallas Cat Lady (dallascatlady.org). This organization’s mission is to “reduce the homeless cat population through fostering, adoption and trap-neuter-release in the Dallas area.” This organization needs foster parents and volunteers to spend a couple hours per week feeding and caring for the cats at Petco stores in Casa Linda, Mesquite and other locations.
Most animal shelters and rescue groups desperately need and welcome volunteers in a variety of capacities. Visit petfinder.com to find rescue organizations near you.
Don’t have time to volunteer? There are other ways to help, including donating money and/or supplies (including newspapers and your old towels or linens — often needed by animal shelters), attending fund-raising parties and bidding on silent auction items. You can help animals while sipping wine or beer — win win! Check out dallasdoglife.com and Dog About Town (dallasnews.com/life/pets ) for DFW-area events.