Animals appreciate attention from volunteers
SARANAC LAKE — The Tri-Lakes Humane Society is slowly building up its number of regular volunteers. Currently, it has 10 to 15, of all ages. The youngest volunteer, who is accompanied by a parent, is 6 years old. Kids who are 12 years or older are able to come in without parental supervision after school and spend time with the animals, while other adult volunteers often come in after work or during their free time.
Shania Muncil is a 22-year-old North Country native who attended St. Lawrence University and volunteered at the Potsdam Humane Society for four years during her undergraduate studies. She recently moved to Saranac Lake and drives by the Tri-Lakes Humane Society every day on her drive home from the Trudeau Institute, where she works as a research technician. It was only a couple of months after she moved here that she started volunteering again.
“When I moved here, I was like, I definitely have to volunteer somewhere,” Muncil said. She now volunteers every Wednesday, stopping in on her way home for 30 to 45 minutes.
She explained how she likes to spend time with all of the cats; “I just kind of sit. Sometimes I bring a book. Sometimes I read or just talk aloud to them.” She specifically does this with the shy cats in hopes of acclimating them more to people. With the not-so-shy cats she also plays with them.
“It’s great. I love it so much.” she said.
Describing the cats, she said “They all have so many personalities.” She went on to Smudge, a little, blind, black cat who recently was adopted. Muncil was glad when she came in one week to hear that Smudge got a home. “It’s nice to just come in every week and be like, ‘Oh, so-and-so got adopted.'”
Muncil even adopted her own cat from the shelter shortly after she began volunteering. She took home 12-year-old Jeter in mid-January.
“I was really happy to adopt an older cat,” she said “I’ve always kind of wanted to do that. I mean they have a wonderful life here, but (it’s) better than them living out their last years in a shelter.”
It’s hard for the older animals to get adopted simply due to the short amount of time that families would get to spend with them. Some cats, like 19-year-old Amy and 10 to 12-year-old Sassy, have been in and out of the shelter their entire lives. Amy has been with the Tri-Lakes Humane Society longer than most of the staff. She is a bit of an escape artist, so she would always end up back at the shelter. Eventually, they decided to make her their “mascot,” often bringing her to schools with them.
Muncil is happy to see kids learning about shelters and animals.
“That’s another thing I’ve noticed about here,” she said. “I’ve seen parents or grandparents come in with their younger kids and I think that’s really nice to do. I don’t see it often enough, and I’d like to see more of it. It’s such a nice thing for them to learn what a shelter is about but also how to act around animals.”
Muncil has only been volunteering here for a couple of months, but she has already bonded with the animals. She feels volunteering is therapeutic for her.
“I love having this because it gives me something extra in my life,” she said. “It means more than just work and home.”