JV John: Rewards are worth it
“You got to like animals to do this job,” stated John Tucker, a Junior Volunteer for the Society for the Protection of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA).
And like animals he does. The 14-year-old’s relationship with the SPCA began when he was 11 years old. He came with his Mum to pick up a cat for his grandmother, and enjoyed the experience and atmosphere of the animal shelter so much he returned on Saturdays to socialise with the animals play, pet and groom them for an hour.
Now that he is 14, the lower age limit for a JV, he is able to work two mornings a week during his summer holiday cleaning cages and litter boxes, sweeping and mopping floors and wiping down the window of the observation room.
Though volunteering involves hard work, and some unpleasant tasks, “the reward is definitely worth it,” John emphasised. “Cleaning is fun, because the cats chase the broom, climb all over you, slide off the wet floor.”
There are three ways in which Junior Volunteers help out volunteer co-ordinator Tania Stafford explained.
Junior volunteers have the opportunity to work three to four hours on Saturday or Sunday mornings or during school breaks helping to ensure the animals have their five freedoms: freedom from hunger and thirst, freedom from discomfort, freedom from pain, injury and disease, freedom to behave normally and freedom from fear and distress. The youngsters help with animal care and the morning cleaning routines.
Later on in the day (after 11am) there is a two-hour shift that involves laundry tasks, cage tidying and possibly bathing animals. All JVs get time interacting with the cats and kittens to encourage their socialising.
A final opportunity that has proven popular this summer is for a Junior Volunteer to pair with an adult (and this often becomes mother-daughter bonding as well) for a one-hour cat-socialising session. The more varied are the humans (age, voice, appearance) the cats meet, the more likely they are to feel at ease around humans and therefore be adoptable.
There are also extra opportunities to help at special events like the Animal Expo on November 5.
Because of the animal feeding routines, there is no volunteering opportunity after school; and volunteers have to be over 18 to help walk the dogs.
There are currently 24 Junior Volunteers working between one and three days a week at tasks suited to their personality and interests. And though the current programme is over-subscribed, there are plans in the pipeline to expand volunteerism in other areas.
For anyone interested in learning more about the programme, they can contact Tania Stafford at tstafford[AT]spca.bm or 236-7333.