Debby Rightmyer, Volunteer Since 2005
Enrichment. Debby Rightmyer said that’s been her ultimate goal since becoming a Volunteer at North Shore Animal League America in 2005. The Queens resident spends most of her time building relationships with the adult dogs, who for one reason or another, have had difficulties finding homes. Every day she volunteers she sees as an opportunity to provide the animals with the tools they need to become the better versions of themselves.
Whether it’s creating challenging puzzles and games to keep them mentally sharp, or simply building a trusting relationship through steady interaction, Debby understands that it’s vital that our animals feel at home while in our care. That way when the right adopter comes along, our animals will be ready to make a smooth transition into their new home, which in turn, facilitates more successful adoptions.
“I take a lot of pride in working with the dogs who need it the most. Since many of these animals are with us for significant periods of time, I have the opportunity to build strong relationships with some of them. This allows me to teach them important skills that will give them a better quality of life in the long run,” Debby said. “Of course every animal in our care is going to have all of the basics like food, water, shelter, walks, but if I can enrich their lives and stimulate their brains, then I’m going to do it. I find behavior incredibly interesting.”
At Animal League America we know that keeping our animals physically stimulated and in shape is important. We make sure that every animal that calls our Port Washington, N.Y. campus home not only receives enrichment to physically improve their bodies and quality of life, but keeps their minds fine-tuned as well. Debby recalled one of her favorite dogs, Duke, a handsome black lab mix whom became very dear to her heart during his time here.
Rescued when he was just a puppy from a municipal shelter in Oklahoma, he was quickly adopted from our Adoption Center. Although it seemed like a perfect fit at the time, Duke was reclaimed by our Quality Care Department about a year later when it was discovered he wasn’t being cared for in the responsible, loving fashion we expect from our adopters.
Whether it was due to barrier frustration, anxiety, or a combination of both, the young dog didn’t do well on the adoption floor upon his arrival back at our campus. Every time potential adopters approached his kennel, Duke would let out a loud, intimidating bark to deter their company, almost as if he viewed them as potential threats. We may never know why he developed these guarded behaviors, but one thing was for certain; whenever he was outside of his kennel and enjoying time with Debby and others he trusted, he was the epitome of the perfect adoptable pet.
“I always believed Duke would thrive in the right home – we just had to make sure we found him the perfect fit,” she said. “It was also important that we gave him the best chance to succeed by providing him with the behavior training he needed. The Behavior Team did such an incredible job with him and I like to think I played an important role in helping them. Watching him go home was one of the proudest moments of my life. I still keep in touch with his adopters. He’s doing amazingly well!”
Its selfless and caring volunteers like Debby who have helped build Animal League America into the world’s largest no-kill rescue and adoption organization. Because of our volunteers, our residents are treated as if they were our own beloved pets rather than animals simply waiting to be adopted. They are provided with EVERYTHING they need to mature into well adjusted, happy, healthy pets.