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Volunteers needed at animal shelter

June 25, 2005

Rosette Gonzales

It is kitten season and the Burbank Animal Shelter is overflowing

with felines, but the shelter also home to plenty of dogs, bunnies

and even a rooster.

This summer, volunteers at the shelter said they need more help

than ever cleaning out cages and socializing animals for adoption.

"There's all these mouths that need to be fed and not enough

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hands, said Martha Brown, a senior volunteer.

The shelter has 60 volunteers but many of them go on vacation

during the summer, said Cynthia Cavanaugh, volunteer director of

development.

Volunteers are essential to the nonprofit shelter and more of them

would improve quality of living for animals who spend much of their

time in "condos" or cages until they're adopted or sent to foster

homes.

"One of the main things that volunteers should be doing is

socializing animals for adoption," Cavanaugh said. "Dogs need to be

walked. Cats need to be played with .... That's one of the biggest

needs we have, because if animals are in here for a while and aren't

socialized, it affects them."

The shelter has housed up to as many as 130 cats at once and

cleaning is a constant process, Cavanaugh said.

"Anybody who walks in the door who says 'Do we need volunteers?' I

send immediately to fill out an application," Cavanaugh said.

Volunteers must be age 16 or older and go through an application

process and background check that takes about two to three weeks,

said Molly Stretten, vice president of the volunteer board.

Summer is a great opportunity for teenagers or "junior" volunteers

because they are out of school, but the shelter could also use more

retired people who are available during the work week, Cavanaugh

said.

There are many projects -- such as educational outreach -- shelter

volunteers would like to pursue but don't have enough staff ,

Stretten said. They also need a volunteer public relations person, a

book-keeper and a secretary.

If people can not commit time to work at the shelter, they can

become a foster kitten parent and take an orphaned kitten home for up

to eight weeks.

Volunteering can be an incredibly rewarding experience for anyone

who loves animals, but especially teenagers who wish to pursue

veterinary science or animal careers, Stretten said.

"This would be a great place to learn about animals," she said.

"The junior volunteer program is the entry way to becoming a regular

volunteer or [registered veterinary technician] or veterinarian."

April Scott, now a kennel attendant for Burbank Police Animal

Control, was first a shelter volunteer.

Since she was hired in February as staff, she has worked tireless

hours at the shelter caring for her "kids." But without volunteers,

she would never leave, she said.

"Volunteers are probably one of the main arteries and why this

shelter is standing," she said.

Volunteer hours are flexible but since they only work a few hours

a day, more are needed to cover gaps.

"I have to come to work thinking they're aren't going to be any

volunteers here," Scott said. "When I do see a volunteer here, that's

a bonus. That's a saving grace."

To find out about volunteer opportunities, call (818) 238-3340 or

visit www.basv.org.

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