Nevada County: Legion of volunteers maintains animal shelter |

Nevada County: Legion of volunteers maintains animal shelter

GRASS VALLEY, Calif. and#8212; To a cacophony of yelps and meows, a dedicated legion of volunteers march into the Nevada County Animal Shelter on McCourtney Road every day to see that its four-legged clients do not go neglected.

Without the 100 volunteers and#8212; referred to as and#8220;dog walkersand#8221; and and#8220;cat cuddlersand#8221; and#8212; shelter administrator and sheriff’s department Sgt. Rich Fevinger would not know what to do.

and#8220;The volunteer program is the backbone of our success here,and#8221; Fevinger said Friday.

and#8220;They walk the dogs twice a day, 365 days a year. It’s socialization and it really makes a big difference,and#8221; Fevinger said. and#8220;Dogs can get and#8216;cage rage’ if they’ve been in there a long time, so we get them out on a leash and let them run around.and#8221;

The dog walkers come at 8:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. and stroll with the dogs on a path weaving through manzanita next to the shelter, or into a fenced area for play. Others take care of cats indoors at the same time.

and#8220;They clean the cages and litter boxes, feed them, groom them and socialize,and#8221; Fevinger said of cat cuddlers.

Rita Hecocks of Alta Sierra said she takes care of cats because of her lifelong love of pets which began as a child growing up in Germany.

and#8220;It’s very rewarding,and#8221; Hecocks said, cuddling a small cat named Lucky. and#8220;You’re crying sometimes when you leave here, but … when you leave and they are clean and fed and happy, that’s the reward. You need to give back in life, so that’s what I’m doing.and#8221;

Giving back was also Sharon Shafran’s motivation.

and#8220;I have a strong draw to the underdogs and undercats,and#8221; Shafran said. and#8220;This is like the soup kitchen for animals.

and#8220;You feel whole to give back and they are sponges for it,and#8221; added the Rough and Ready resident. and#8220;We’ve seen miracles here with pets so abused you couldn’t touch them at first and then we finally turn them around. It’s nice to see them moved to a home so they can live out their lives with dignity.and#8221;

Jenni Schaffer of Nevada City was walking a nameless, pure-bred black Labrador puppy who yelped because he wanted to be held.

and#8220;They found him wandering at Purdon Crossing,and#8221; Schaffer said. and#8220;I think he has separation anxiety.and#8221;

Knuckles, a strong pit bull breed was pulling Judy East along the path at a pretty good clip. East doesn’t feel comfortable having a dog at her home in Lake of the Pines, so she comes to the shelter to share her love with them.

and#8220;I call them my granddogs. I get to love ’em and leave ’em,and#8221; East said. and#8220;They get loved twice a day. We just don’t walk them, we pet them and hold them, too.

and#8220;When we come in, the dogs are all excited because they know they’re going out,and#8221; East said. and#8220;By the time we leave, they are calm and relaxed.and#8221;

and#8220;I never had a dog before and adopted one from here when I moved up,and#8221; said dog walker Tom Hall of Lake Wildwood. and#8220;I just really enjoy giving them a break from the kennel. They get a chance to sniff and breathe real air.and#8221;

Volunteers are encouraged to apply at the shelter at 14646 McCourtney Road.

Fevinger reviews applications and calls potential volunteers in for interviews. Those accepted are trained and scheduled for duty when they have the time. Some work regular shifts and others prefer to be on call, Fevinger said.

and#8220;It’s been a very successful program, but we’re always looking for volunteers,and#8221; Fevinger added.

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