Every single person that steps up to do something can make a difference. Even if they can spare just a couple of hours each week, it makes an enormous difference, not only in their hearts, but in the hearts of the animals that beat and desire love and attention just like us humans.”
This is how our volunteer of the month, Barry, native of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania and former employee of the Department of Environmental Protection, explains what inspires him to help out. Animal welfare has always played an integral role in his life. He has not only been a pet parent to a numerous delightful multitude of cats, dogs, ducks, birds, and fish of various shapes and sizes, but even pet skunks! Currently, he and his wife care for three Amazon parrots, whose non-stop chattering and singing keep the household lively and laughter-filled.
As all pet parents know, along with the innumerable joys reaped from living in the company of animals, comes the inevitable heartbreak when those pets fall ill. Or take their leave permanently. And it may be such personal heartbreaks that Barry has had to ride out over the years with his own pets that commits him even more emphatically to caring for our cats and dogs in need. “I’m inspired by the many homeless animals that simply want a place they can call home, and a family to love them. It’s easy for many people to turn their backs on those animals. Out of sight, out of mind. It’s much harder to get off one’s butt to DO something to help … anything, even if it just means the life of one more animal will be saved and be given the chance to have a home and enjoy a happy life.”
Like all of our volunteers and staff at the HS/SPCA, Barry has seen, firsthand, how imperative it is to step up and do the right thing by these animals. Some have been abused or neglected. Some have been abandoned. And some are just the unfortunate collateral damage of hard times an otherwise loving pet parent falls into. ” It makes an enormous difference, not only in their hearts, but in the hearts of the animals that beat and desire love and attention just like us humans.”
So, when Barry sees people come to the shelter to adopt an animal who needs a second chance, he sees this as a validation of sorts. ” It means that the work we do there is extremely important and worthwhile. Otherwise, who knows what would otherwise happen to those poor animals.” Most of the time, Barry can be seen helping out with the cats at the shelter. Ironically though, his favorite volunteer memory to date is about a dog named Roscoe. The two met in the first couple of months Barry was volunteering, and Barry had been warned that Roscoe appeared to have trust issues when it came to being approached by a human male. “I saw that as a challenge. As I went into Roscoe’s pen, he shied away and retreated to the very back of his pen. I spoke softly to him and persisted in coaxing him to trust me as I slowly and gradually approached him, until I was finally able to put the leach around his neck. I took him for a walk, and the next thing I knew, we played together, and he even enjoyed being hugged.”
Over the next couple of weeks, every time Barry arrived at the shelter, the first thing he did was go to Roscoe’s pen. Well, guess what? That pooch would leap for joy at the mere sight of his new best friend. Did Barry tear up just a bit when Roscoe was eventually adopted? Absolutely! But those tears were a healthy mix of sadness and happiness: sadness because Barry missed his new buddy, of course, and happiness because he knew that empty pen meant Roscoe was now living in a loving home, with people who would provide him with a happy life. Although he is too modest to assume this of himself, we here at the HS/SPCA feel certain that Barry’s steadfast initiative with Roscoe– his determination to befriend a reluctant dog– helped give Roscoe a furry leg up, so to speak, on getting adopted.