By LAUREN PAJAKOWSKI
Calling all animal lovers! Do you have extra room in your heart and extra time in your schedule? If so, Pet Refuge is looking for you. Located just minutes from IU South Bend, Pet Refuge is a non-kill animal shelter run entirely by volunteers. Whether you’re a cat-lover, dog-lover or prefer to help by proxy in an office environment or through fundraising, your help is needed.
“We are looking for people who can commit to about three to five hours a week for one day a week. And someone who is dependable and reliable, as the dogs depend on you to show up,” said Molly Asherman, Pet Refuge’s dog department volunteer coordinator.
Some IUSB students and faculty have already found fulfillment in volunteering. Assistant Professor of Women’s Studies Christina Gerken has been a Pet Refuge volunteer for almost four and a half years.
“I’m originally from Germany and I came to the U.S. for my Ph.D. At first I didn’t know if I could adopt a pet, not knowing if I would be going back [to Germany], so I started volunteering at a shelter,” Gerken said. “I volunteered through grad school and continued at Pet Refuge as soon as I moved to South Bend.”
Gerken explained how other students have found similar benefits from volunteering.
“Many students have just moved out of their parents’ homes. They miss having animals around and volunteering is a nice way to have animals in their life without the responsibility of owning a pet.”
Two of those students are IUSB graduate student Krystie Comar and freshman Michelle Cook. Comar started volunteering in 2006 when she was a senior in high school.
“I started out cleaning at the shelter about every other weekend while in college. Now, as a grad-student, I foster a dog and a cat and come by every week and help,” Comar said.
Dog-lover Cook has been volunteering at Pet Refuge for about a year.
“I love dogs and if I could I would take every single one of them home, so volunteering is the alternative. I just wanted to help as much as I could to help get them adopted and get them a home.”
Pet Refuge is totally dependent upon monetary and material donations from the community. In addition to volunteering, they also welcome animal food or other material donations.
“The time you give a homeless cat or dog means so much to them and helps with their transition from losing their original home. I guarantee you will fall in love with many and rejoice when they finally go to their forever homes. The difference in their lives comes from you!”
Information for each opportunity can be found at www.petrefuge.com under the volunteers tab. Interested volunteers are encouraged to fill out an application which can be found on the Pet Refuge website or Facebook page.