The West Baton Rouge Animal Shelter relies on volunteers to provide extra love and care for its furry residents and expects the animal shelter expansion to allow for more volunteerism.

The shelter superintendent, supervisor, front office manager and two animal control officers are typically busy handling day-to-day duties like cleaning, medicating, vet and surgery appointments, picking up animals or dealing with the public.

“We don't really have time to interact with the animals as often as we need to,” Jackie Fellows, the West Baton Rouge Parish Shelter Supervisor said of the 17 dogs and up to 12 cat kennels that are often full, especially in the summer mating season.

Walking dogs is the easiest way volunteers can help. The activity helps the animals socialize and in turn, become more "adoptable."

“Dog walking is really helpful because it decreases their energy, especially with the cold weather--the dogs are frisky,” Fellows said. The current facility doesn't have play yards, though some will be included in the expansion.

An overly-energetic dog may displease someone looking to adopt, even when it isn’t the true nature of the dog, she said.

Yard photography for the dog’s adoption description will be another way to volunteer in the future when the new facility is complete. Taking photos of the animals is a "two to three person job because you need a wrangler to keep the animal on the table and someone behind catching their attention" Fellows said. Volunteers interested in writing and videography are also needed to help with adoption descriptions and videos.

For those looking to bring volunteering closer to home, fostering is an essential function of volunteers at the shelter.

Additional volunteering activities include giving the animals baths, doing and folding laundry, and keeping the yards clean. Advocating adoption by sharing and liking posts on their Facebook and Instagram is an easy way anyone can help the shelter.

The staff can give those who regularly volunteer more duties once they learn the flow and the rules. For example, though cat cleaning and cuddling is an easy task, it’s vital to follow the right steps. Following sanitary procedures and understanding that cat cuddling is limited so only a couple are held means the cats won’t get sick from cross-contamination.

Volunteers should set up an appointment so the staff knows if to reschedule and when to expect them, though they may stay as long as they want. On the scheduled date and time, volunteers should be ready to go after a small orientation and after obtaining a list. Volunteers must be ages 18+ until construction is complete, however, the shelter is hoping for kid volunteer days in the future.

Once the $148,000 adoption center is built, “the public will go there to volunteer because those dogs and cats will already be up for adoption,” after being spayed, neutered, microchipped and socialized, Fellows said. Lost animals would be held in the original building where more experienced volunteers will be placed.

Though the construction for expansion will be done in July, the dog kennels are full at the WBR Shelter. If interested in adopting, send an email to adoptions@wbrcouncil.org.

Staff writer

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