Junior Volunteers Now On Task at Animal Shelter

An AWLA adoptable cat enjoys some enrichment as a Junior Volunteer polishes her new skills.

December was a historic thirty day period for the Animal Welfare League of Alexandria (AWLA): The quite very first class of 12 Junior Volunteers graduated from coaching and embarked on volunteering things to do all over the shelter.

Identifiable by their inexperienced aprons and T-shirts, the Junior Volunteers, ages 14 to 17, are now operating facet by side with the shelter’s adult volunteer corps. They assist socialize pet dogs, cats and other animals, conduct shelter basics these types of as cleansing and laundry, and help with specific events. 

Two Junior Volunteers accomplish “shelter basics” — washing dishes — as element of a teaching session.


“Junior Volunteers do so considerably of what the grownup volunteers do, including volunteering remotely,” explained Humane Educator Carly Mercer, who manages the plan. “Although they really don’t acquire canine for walks, they can train and engage in with them in the yard, which will help get ready them for adoption.”

Whilst the AWLA presents a selection of humane training systems for college students of all ages, this is the to start with extended, fingers-on software for high university-aged pupils. “When I was a higher college college student, I attempted to get experience doing the job with animals but couldn’t mainly because I wasn’t 18,” recalled Mercer. “This plan allows learners to occur in and study all about animals and gain services hrs that also give them true-life encounter that can be incorporated on their resumes.”

The program’s mix of in-person and virtual trainings addresses these types of subject areas as animal human body language, animal schooling and basic safety and other facets of animal welfare, this sort of as supporting animals by means of fundraising and social media. When qualified, the volunteers are asked to dedicate to 4 several hours a thirty day period for at least six months, just as grownup volunteers are. Volunteers can pick out the styles of animal — these kinds of as pet dogs or cats — they desire to operate with.

“I liked how hands-on the teaching was,” reported Ava, one of the 1st course of Junior Volunteers, who stopped to converse though socializing an adoptable rabbit named Clark and a guinea pig called TyTy. “You get to do stuff in individual and practice, which better well prepared me for my shifts. The software walks you by all 3 animal interactions (canine, cats, and small animals) all through your training. Then you can decide which animal interactions match you most effective and who you want to operate with.”

The inaugural team of Junior Volunteers put their teaching into action by arranging a fundraising marketing campaign identified as Juniors for Seniors. Images of the volunteers interacting with senior adoptable animals, promoted on social media and in other places, lifted hundreds of dollars for Rosemary’s Fund for Senior Animals, which presents blood testing, special meals, and veterinary treatment and equipment necessary by older pets.

“Our Junior Volunteers commit to not only understand about animal welfare but also to make a immediate influence in the lives of shelter animals,” explained Echo Keif, AWLA’s Senior Supervisor of Volunteers and Neighborhood Occasions. “Whether they are serving to a shy kitten attain assurance, utilizing their clicker training expertise to instruct pups adoptable habits or earning enrichment things like veggie rolls for our guinea pigs, every little thing that they do tends to make a massive big difference for animals and their effectively-being throughout their keep at the AWLA.”

Registration for the spring 2022 semester of the Junior Volunteer plan filled in record time in January, but new instruction programs will open this tumble and future spring.

 The Animal Welfare League of Alexandria is a regional 501(c)(3) corporation that operates the Vola Lawson Animal Shelter, Alexandria’s only open up-entry animal shelter. In response to the world-wide pandemic, the AWLA has established a digital adoption system and is working a Pet Pantry that gives pet foodstuff and materials to community associates in require. The AWLA also presents help to Alexandrians with queries about wildlife and animals in the local community. Much more data can be discovered at AlexandriaAnimals.org.