Winter brings new challenges to the Humane Society of the Palouse every year. In response, some University of Idaho students are doing their part to lighten the load.
Trina Pickett, cattery manager, said volunteer times are usually booked this time of year by students trying to fulfill volunteer hours they are required to clock by the end of the semester.
“We have a huge volunteer base,” Pickett said.
Volunteers sign up by the hour to socialize with animals, clean or do laundry and walk dogs.
Pickett said the shelter hosts about 50 volunteers a day, a majority of which are students from UI and Washington State University, as well as some retirees.
Matilda Arbini, a Moscow High School student, has worked as an animal caretaker intern since April. Since then, she has helped the Humane Society with vaccinations, microchipping and overall caretaking of the facility.
“I didn”t have any particular interest in wanting to be a vet or anything in college,” Arbini said. “I just like the work and I like environment, and I like animals.”
Students and others also help the shelter by adopting animals, but Pickett said sometimes adoptions do not work out.
Pickett said a small percentage of people bring pets home and realize they do not have the means for a pet. Other times, she said people bring home a pet and find they do not get along with pets already in the home.
To make sure the pet is right for them, the Humane Society has a seven day foster period for adopters.
Despite the large number of students visiting the shelter, Pickett said the number of students returning pets is no higher than anyone else.
The maximum capacity of the shelter is 20 dogs and 85 cats, though Pickett said the capacity was once 7-10 cats. She said the shelter is currently filled to about half of its capacity, but that number fluctuates daily.
“I just took in 7 more cats today,” Pickett said laughing. “Some guy brought in six cats and we had another stray.”
Manager Don Nickles said he and Pickett want to continue to serve the community and spiff up the shelter.
“It”s not very welcoming,” Nickles said. “We want to add brighter colors and just make it more friendly – more adopter friendly – so people actually want to come in here and spend more time here.”
Pickett said the Humane Society will continue to host fundraisers until Christmas. The shelter recently hosted a Pet Pictures with Santa event at the Eastside Marketplace. The shelter will have a Christmas booth at the Palouse Mall as well as a giving tree to raise money for the shelter.
Nickles said he and Pickett have plans to continue to renovate the shelter and keep it running for future animals and adopters.
“Some place like this is always going to be needed,” Nickles said.
Taylor Nadauld can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org