Departments > Code Compliance > Animal Care & Control > Volunteer

August 2020

Kathy McDonald

Every month, Animal Care & Control features a volunteer who's making a difference for the animals at the shelter.

Meet the August Volunteer of the Month, Kathy McDonald.

How long have you volunteered with the City of Fort Worth Animal Shelter?

The reason I started volunteering is because of a dog I rescued off the street and named him Max. He had been on the street for a few weeks and was never aggressive just scared and wouldn’t come up to you. I finally got him in my yard and was able to gain his trust before animal control picked him up Sunday night and I just loved on him. Tuesday they asked if I would be willing to foster him and I said I would think about it a few days and instead I came home with him right then. Max was not leash trained, knew no commands, did not like anything around his neck, would not go outside unless I was with him, had signs of abuse and scared of everything. Working with him was not easy and at first, he would growl and snap at me, but we took baby steps. Since I had never dealt with a dog like him I met with Mark Tacker who is the behavior specialist at FWACC to get advice on how to work with Max and how hard to push. Sadly, after almost 5 months I had to return him to the shelter because Max and my dog were not getting along and both were protective of me. Once back at the shelter they couldn’t get him out of the cage as he was just scared so they made a decision to allow me to come and help Mark continue to work with him on a daily basis since Max trusted me. We still took baby steps with him. By the time he got adopted he was walking on a leash, knew commands and was a totally different dog. The day I actually took him home I took a big leap of faith on Max and it paid off. Not only did I make an impact in Max’s life by helping him, he also made a big impact in my life to where I want to help other dogs like him so they can get adopted. So if it hadn’t been for Max, I probably would not be volunteering today.

What is your favorite volunteer activity to help with and why?

Working with a brand-new program called “Orange Dot Crew”. Most of these dogs do not get along with other dogs, or they may be dog selective and some might be just declining in health in the kennel. Because of this they do not get to go out in the play yard with other dogs. With the orange dot program, there is a list of dogs and the orange dot volunteers spend time taking these dogs out in the play yard, for walks or even out of the shelter for a few hours. You can see a difference in the dogs in this program since it has started and their adoption rate has increased.

What would you tell someone who is thinking about volunteering?

It is one of the most rewarding things you can do and most of those dogs will reward you by giving you hugs and kisses. You have to be able to realize that you can’t bring every animal you see home with you even though you would love to and instead look at it from the point that you have a chance to help make a big impact in that dog’s life by helping them find the perfect home. Everyone has their favorites and when one of those gets adopted you can feel really good knowing that you had a part in their life when they just needed some love and trust.

What pets do you have? Tell us about them.

I have 2 dogs both of which are rescues. Bandit is Border Collie/American Blue Heeler and is my protector. He was an owner surrender on his 2nd birthday and had really bad separation anxiety. He loves to chase squirrels and yes he can catch them and he has even caught a rooster. He at least didn’t kill the rooster but by the time he finished it was a naked rooster.
Gypsy is part Cairn terrier and was a tiny puppy that came from a rescue group. She loves to play ball and she is happy just running in circles with the ball. Her and Bandit play and wrestle with each other all the time. Don’t ever say you aren’t having a certain kind of dog because you might just get it. I said I wasn’t having a white dog or a little yappy dog. Bandit is white and Gypsy is the little yappy one. So I got both of what I said I wouldn’t have but they are my babies and I love them.

What advice would you give to volunteers who have just started out?

Get with a volunteer who has been there for a little while and shadow them for about week and learn all you can to be comfortable and then find the area to help in that suits you. You might even find more than one area. Most of all don’t be afraid to ask questions or get help.