By Ryan Richardson
Globe Staff Writer
JOPLIN, Mo. —
Many of my friends are still making the transition from college to real life. Most of them are getting that first taste of dealing with student loan debt, finding a job and affordable housing to live in.
For most of them, that means cutting expenses to the essentials, which may also mean holding off on welcoming a pet into their home, for now.
While the weight of responsibility may cause some people to eat a ramen noodle diet in lieu of steak dinners, there are still several ways that people can spend time with animals without breaking the bank.
Volunteering at local animal shelters can provide a plethora of benefits to pet-lovers, both young and old, who have extra time to spend in their community. Amber Kenagy, transport coordinator at the Carthage Humane Society, said the benefits are much deeper than meet the eye.
"We have a lot of people who help out as a stress reliever from their normal lives, in addition to people who just lost a pet or had to give their pets up for whatever reason," Kenagy said. "It helps people relax, and it helps these pets become more adoptable when it comes time to put them in a good home. They get more used to people, which makes their transitions into homes that much easier."
Irene Keheley, with the Animal Welfare Society in Miami, Okla., said the need for volunteers keeps the shelters operating.
"We always are looking for new volunteers because there are no holidays or breaks for these pets in our shelter," Keheley said. "You can do a heck of a lot in a few hours that means the world to these dogs."
For those of you interested in improving the lives of homeless local animals, below is a list of animal shelters that accept volunteers. If you have time, please consider taking a look at these shelters or others in your area that could use your assistance.
Joplin Humane Society
Located at 140 E. Emperor Lane, near Airport Drive, the Joplin Humane Society accepts volunteers on a regular basis. Community Outreach Coordinator Tianna Fisher said the process to become a volunteer at the shelter is easy.
"All it takes is an application, and you can be helping us out later that day," Fisher said. "We couldnÕt do half the things we do without our volunteer staff, and we value them. They help us save lives."
Volunteers can start off by walking dogs, washing puppies and brushing cats while working up to offsite events. The society also provides volunteer training twice a month, with the next training scheduled for Jan. 28.
The Joplin Humane Society may be contacted by phone at 417-623-3642 or online at www.joplinhumane.org.
Animal Welfare Society
For our Oklahoma readers, the Animal Welfare Society in Miami provides a wide variety of opportunities for prospective volunteers of all ages.
The shelter is open seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., and volunteers may fill out an application at the shelter, located at 501 E. Central Ave.
Volunteers under 14 must be accompanied by an adult, while volunteers 14 to 18 need to have parental permission before working with animals.
Carthage Humane Society
The Carthage Humane Society hosts a staff of 10 regular volunteers, but Kenagy said they are always looking for more.
"We put our volunteers through a training workshop to get them used to working with pets," Kenagy said. "We want them to have the tools to be able to be a proactive advocate for the pets in our shelter."
The shelter is located at 13860 Dog Kennel Lane in Carthage. For more information, people may contact the shelter at 417-358-6402.
Southeast Kansas Humane Society
The Southeast Kansas Humane Society serves the Pittsburg, Kan., area and has an online form for volunteers to fill out. People may visit www.sekhs.com and click on "volunteer" to fill out the form, or call the shelter during operating hours at 620-232-1840. The shelter is open from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday to Saturday and 1 to 4 p.m. on Sunday. It is located at 487 E. 560th Ave. in Pittsburg.
Contact Ryan Richardson about this column or other topic suggestions at firstname.lastname@example.org or 417-627-7363.