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Davis Journal

Animal lovers give of their time

Jan 14, 2021 02:17PM ● By Becky Ginos

KAYSVILLE—Every Sunday Karen Seifert drives from her home in Tooele to Animal Care of Davis County (ACDC) to photograph cats. For the past year, she’s put in more than 147 volunteer hours. Seifert is one of 275 active volunteers who give their time to help animals in Davis County.

“Our service volunteers gave 4,324 hours and above in 2020,” said Maria Bingham, Volunteer and Events Coordinator for ACDC. “It was super surprising, especially with COVID. In the past there’s been four or five volunteers but in the last two or three years it’s really grown.”

Bingham said dog walking is the most popular, contributing 50 percent of the volunteer hours. “A lot of people have a lot of fun. They do clicker training and give them a treat to reinforce good behavior. It helps with potential adoptions.”

Volunteers provide stimuli for the dogs and enrichment such as toys and treats. “It’s cute with our younger volunteers who can’t come in. We have them make toys or blankets at home. The animals love it. We’ve noticed more younger volunteers with kids doing school online.”

ACDA welcomes 4H, scouts and youth groups to volunteer. “We accept pretty much everybody,” she said. “We also have fostering services. Community members can volunteer to take kittens or dogs usually between March and September. It’s another route to help animals in a less stressful environment and to see how they react to others and if they’re good with people, etc.”

Cats need a lot of care Bingham said. “Socialization is a big one with cats. They still need to be loved and get used to people. They come out and say ‘please pet me, please love me.’ We have our younger volunteers read to them so they get used to voices and feel their presence. It makes their living space comfortable. We try to create a fear free atmosphere. Cats have a hard time adjusting.”

Bingham said Seifert only specializes photographing cats. “They like to move a lot. She has a knack with getting them to look up. They’re calm in her presence. She’s like the cat whisperer.”

Seifert got her start at the Salt Lake County shelter about seven or eight years ago. “I had a friend who was a professional photographer and she needed someone to help her,” she said. “I’d wrangle the cats for her and make sure they were looking at her. I’d keep them in line and where they had to be.”

When she started at the shelter in Tooele, they didn’t have anyone to take cat photos, said Seifert. “I thought, ‘I can do that.’ But I needed a little better camera. They were in their kennels so they couldn’t run away from me.”

Every cat is different, she said. “I have my little bag of toys and treats. I spend some time with them to figure out what they like most and what I need to do to gain their trust. Then when they see me they’re going to perk up and have happy ears, their tail stands up and they look up with their eyes wide open.”

Seifert was surprised at the number of hours she’d volunteered this year. “I thought, ‘that’s bonkers, I’m only there once a week,’” she said. “The time goes by really fast. I just sit down and play with cats. It makes me feel fulfilled that I’m helping them come out of their shell and finding them a home.”

Volunteering is a great way to be involved with the community, said Seifert. “If you love animals – give it a try.”