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Nov 10, 2020

Volunteer Spotlight: Jan Schwenger


Meet Jan! Jan has been volunteering at the Humane Society for Tacoma & Pierce County for over TWELVE years! Her passion and commitment to the pets in our care, specifically those needing foster homes, cannot be understated. Learn more about Jan’s journey below:

Q. When did you start volunteering at the shelter?

A. I started volunteering in 2008 after I met the previous Executive Director of the shelter, Kathleen Olson, at my local rotary club.

Q. What made you want to volunteer and foster?

A. I expressed to Kathleen my love of animals, but my hesitation in volunteering at the shelter. I was worried it would be too emotional because I thought the shelter would be a sad place. She convinced me to stop by and check it out. I’m glad she did because I was hooked immediately.

At the time I started volunteering, we did not adopt pit bulls. However, Bullseye Rescue implemented the Adopt-A-Bull program at the shelter to help us transition. When this happened, I immediately signed up to be a foster.

Q. What was your foster experience like to begin with?

A. When I began fostering, I took home my first pit bull, Tug, and my life changed forever. I had no experience with pit bulls before this, but I knew I would never own another kind of dog again. I found my breed.


My next foster would be my first foster fail, Asha. She was returned weeks after being adopted, and I decided it was a sign that she should be mine. Asha was the second pit bull to be officially adopted out from the shelter once the policies changed.

My pups!

Since then, I’ve fostered dogs with medical needs, confiscates from law enforcement investigations, and my favorite, senior dogs. Fostering is the most rewarding experience, even though I cry like a baby every time a foster dog of mine moves into their forever home. It’s worth every happy tear shed!

Q. What’s your favorite part?

A. My favorite part about volunteering is seeing the joy in dogs’ eyes when you go to take them out. My friends and family have learned over the years that if they tell me they “might” be looking to add to their furry family, they better be ready because I will find them just that. Most of my co-workers and friends all have shelter dogs that I’ve found for them.

Q. If you could give one piece of advice about volunteering or fostering with the shelter, what would it be?

A. My advice for new volunteers is to try and set a routine volunteer shift. Doing this helps you meet both staff and volunteers as well as form friendships. My best friends are ones I’ve met through the shelter and are my friends for life. And if you’re on the fence about fostering, just try it! Even if you’re just dipping your toe in the water by short-term fostering over a week is an amazing gift to any shelter dog.

Interested in a career with the Humane Society for Tacoma & Pierce County? Check out job opportunities here. Want to volunteer or foster? Learn more here!

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Volunteer Spotlight
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