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Jan 26, 2023

Volunteer Spotlight: Valerie Oaks

Volunteer Spotlight: Valerie Oaks 2

Valerie with a shelter cat.

Meet Valerie Oaks! Valerie spends time with the many cats and kittens that come through our doors and helps keep our cat care running smoothly.

Q. What is your role as a volunteer at the shelter? 

A. As a cat care volunteer, my role consists of taking care of the cat areas. When the cat/kitten that was in a cubby has been adopted or moved, my responsibility is to remove everything from the unoccupied cubby and place the used supplies in the appropriate areas to be cleaned and sanitized. After everything has been removed, the cubbies themselves are sanitized, set up with new supplies, and made ready for a new cat. I also have the pleasure of helping clean and straighten occupied cubbies, when the cats/kittens are in them and, at times, get to help feed the hungry felines! I wash dishes and litter pans, gather supplies, fold towels and linens, launder used toys, and do any other small projects that help the cattery run smoothly. 
As a Purrtime volunteer, I get to spend time with adoptable cats to provide enrichment and hopefully make them more comfortable in this new environment by petting, playing with toys, and providing treats. Purrtime interactions are recorded and the information helps staff and volunteers find their purrfect home.

Q. What made you want to volunteer at the Humane Society for Tacoma & Pierce County?

A. I’ve loved and had cats my entire life. I currently have two at home, Larry and Oliver. When I was thinking about retiring, the main thing I always thought of doing in retirement was volunteering at the shelter. I retired September 30, 2017 and by the middle of October, I was doing a volunteer orientation, behavior training, and cat care training. By the middle of November, I’d scheduled my first solo shift as an official cat care volunteer! I’ve been volunteering ever since!

Q. What’s your favorite part of volunteering here?

A. The cats and kittens of course! But also the interaction and friendship with the other volunteers and staff. I’ve made some good friends with like interests – cats, of course. It’s also rewarding to speak with potential adopters, giving them information about the adoption process and in some way helping them choose their purrfect match. I’ve also volunteered during the shelter’s PetSmart Charities adoption events. It’s fun and exciting to speak with potential adopters, help them find their new pet, and provide them with the information needed to keep their new pet content and happy.

Q. Why are you so passionate about the work we do? 

A. Being there for the animals that are in so much need. Many are lost pets or owner surrenders that have no idea where they are or why. They may be hurt, sick or frightened and need the staff and volunteers to make their lives better. I’ve gotten to see several cats, even two already on the adoption floor, reunited with their original owners.

Q. Any special stories you’d like to share?
A. One cat on the adoption floor was probably minutes from being adopted by someone else when their owner found them. The owner was crying, the cat was meowing and I was in tears, too. When the owner left to complete paperwork, the cat continued to meow until the owner came back to them. It’s an amazing feeling to see the connection between owner and pet.

Then there was Larry…an 8-month-old kitten on the adoption floor the day after Christmas four years ago. So cute, but I already had two cats at home and didn’t really need a third. I went home after my volunteer shift, but couldn’t forget about the brown tabby and fluff ball rolling upside down in his cubby, making biscuits, and looking oh, so very cute! Stole my heart and after talking my husband into meeting him, we became a cat family of three. 

Volunteer Spotlight: Valerie Oaks

Valerie’s cat, Ollie.

Volunteer Spotlight: Valerie Oaks 1

Valerie’s cat, Larry.

Interested in becoming a foster or volunteer? Check out our opportunities

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