Every once in a while, our HS/SPCA has the pleasure of boasting some international prestige. Well, this month is one of those times.

Born and raised in northern Switzerland, with German as her first language, our Volunteer of the Month, Verena, immigrated to the United States in 1965, living in California, Washington, Michigan, and ultimately, landing in The Villages two years ago. Like so many Villagers, Verena has a soft spot for wayward dogs and cats. From the outdoor cat her family cared for back in Switzerland to the five week-old black and white Lab/Collie mix who got separated from his mother during a thunderstorm here in the States and ended up spending a wonderful 13 years with Verena and her spouse, it’s fairly safe to say that Verena embodies our shelter’s mission.

Although her current extensive travel schedule keeps Verena from having a pet of her own, she fills the void by doing plentynov2016 of dog sitting and walking for neighbors. “I do get to spoil them.” But, Verena adds, volunteering for our HS/SPCA “is the closest to having a pet. I am in awe of the good work all HS organizations do, and I wish I could support everyone of them. Hence trying to give back a little for my local HS/SPCA does on behalf of the less fortunate animals.”

Getting involved with our shelter and its myriad of adoption events and donation drives was an easy decision for Verena. “Yes, it is hard work; it does take patience.” But, Verena adds, “It is so rewarding for the animals and for you.” For instance, during one of her many volunteer efforts, Verena stepped up and assisted with relocating some of our newly adopted dogs. Like so much of the magic that goes on behind-the-scenes at our HS/SPCA, it is often because of the ingenuity and dedication of volunteers like Verena that our shelter is able to sustain a degree of mobility when it comes to getting our pups and kitties to their new fur-ever homes. That’s right! Sometimes our adoptees are headed out of state and need a little help finding their way across state lines.

“I took two Chihuahuas and a Jack Russell from the shelter to Savannah, Georgia,” Verena recalls. “And, on the way, I picked up another Chihuahua in Baldwin, Florida (she was prison trained). I met another volunteer outside Savannah and she went with all four dogs to South Carolina and another volunteer took them even further into South Carolina.” (See? We told you Verena does a lot of traveling!) One of the pups, Smitty, “Was adopted by someone in Denver, but needed a ride to the airport. Since the flight was at 10:40 AM, I brought Smitty to my house overnight and we left at 7am the next morning for the airport.”

Such anecdotes only go to show the great lengths (and many gas station visits) our volunteers will battle to help our animals in need. And we are so very, very thankful to Verena for being one of those extraordinary helpers keeping our shelter up and running week to week, day to day, and mile by mile on the open road. We are so happy that this Swiss-born, German-speaking world-traveler finally found her way to Sumter County, where our animals reap the benefits of her willingness to plunge in and lend a helping hand. Better yet? We finally have someone on hand to translate barks and purrs should any of our dogs or cats happen to speak German.

Dankeschön, Verena! Our November Volunteer of the Month!