Kathy DiLello, Volunteer Since 2016
Kathy has a need to “nurture.” As a nurse, she’d worked in a pediatric office for many years and now she’s a technician with Northwell Health®, New York State’s largest health system. She knew she wanted to help medically needy dogs, cats, puppies, and kittens when she applied to be a volunteer at North Shore Animal League America in 2016. She interviewed with Jenn Citro, Shelter Medical Manager, who was excited that she had a nursing background, and she started soon after.
Kathy volunteers every week for the Shelter Medical department. Kathy’s regular shift is early Sunday morning, but she does some additional hours every other Tuesday as well. She feels that her knowledge of medical terminology is helpful and some of the medications are the same, but “animal illnesses are usually very different. Every day I learn something while I am here. It amazed me to find out how you hydrate an animal versus a person—you can do it subcutaneously, or under the skin.”
She enthuses that she works with a “great crew” in shelter medical and she’s so glad they chose her. She arrives early so she can clean cages, monitor if the animals have eaten, and refill their water bowls. Kathy is also there to watch the animals closely to see how they are doing and to notify a veterinary technician if she has any concerns. When the “not glamorous” work is done, she also helps by giving them all some socialization and tender loving care.
Kathy is astounded by how much the veterinarians and the veterinary technicians have to know since they deal with the different bodies of different types of animals versus just the human body. She observes that the animals usually are really good about their treatment and they often have to go through a lot. “Animals are amazing. They have a high pain tolerance,” she said. “Also, these rescue dogs and cats sometimes come from bad situations, but they will let you hold them and give them kisses. That just floors me.”
“She’s phenomenal and she means so much to the team,” commented Jenn. “Kathy is incredibly helpful—offering to come in during different times if she sees that the workload is going to be particularly challenging on a specific day, picking up an extra shift after work during the week, even kicking us out of the area so that we can do other things while she takes control of inpatient husbandry.”
Kathy is actually happy when she doesn’t see the same animals each week in the Shelter Medical department. She knows that means an animal either got better and went up for adoption or went to a foster care home. The biggest challenge she faces with her volunteer work is making sure that she’s “doing the right thing for each of them. The animals each have personalities and they each need their own amount of time to feel better.”
She’s always willing to help out other departments as well. Kathy has a special friend, a big senior dog with medical issues, named Precious, who she visits faithfully every week in the shelter. “We’re just two old girls together,” she laughs. She can’t wait until she can retire so she can adopt a dog. She lost her 14-year-old Wheaten Terrier a while ago, but her work hours are long right now. She also wants to be here more to help the rescued pets. One thing’s for sure, under Kathy’s watchful eyes and with her expert care, all of our homeless animals will flourish and move on quickly to responsible, loving homes.
Kathy has such a “nurturing” spirit that all the animals that fall under her care are so lucky!