Robert Fernandez, Volunteer Since 2015
Ask any of the volunteers here at North Shore Animal League America why they donate their time to our organization and you’re bound to hear a variety of interesting answers. Although each response may be unique in their own way, one underlying factor remains consistent – a deep passion for improving the lives of homeless animals in need.
Whether it’s taking a hands-on approach inside our Adoption Center or Pet Health Centers, acting as a foster parent to animals in need of a little extra love and attention, or providing assistance during off-site events, there are no limits to the ways our volunteers can better the lives of every dog, cat, puppy, and kitten who finds themselves in our care. Just ask retired dog handler Bobby Fernandez, who now spends his Monday and Tuesday mornings walking our four legged residents around campus during their morning strolls. He said the five or six hours he spends with the dogs on those mornings is not only a cathartic experience for the dogs, but for him as well.
“Being a volunteer is important to me because I love animals, dogs in particular, and I know that I can make a real difference in their lives. You don’t have to be around here long to realize that all of these animals thrive off the love and attention they receive from the staff and the volunteers,” said Bobby, who first became a volunteer in October of 2015. “It means the world to them to have that human interaction and guidance – I’m just glad I’m one of the people who is able to give that to them. It’s a lot of work, but the animals give so much back in return.”
In 2017, Animal League America saw 393 Volunteers contribute 43,000 hours of their time to improving the lives of our animals and furthering our no-kill mission. Each day, these volunteers interact with companion animals of varying ages, breeds, and temperaments, developing tight knit relationships and making memories that will last a lifetime. Five months ago, Bobby met a 3-month-old puppy who would not only steal his heart, but would quickly become a permanent fixture in his home.
“Every day that I get to spend here is great, but my most memorable moment as a volunteer was when my dog, Bailey, adopted me last October. This little Chocolate Lab mix was barking at me, almost begging me to take him out of the cage, so I bent down, opened the latch and he jumped all over me and started licking my face. That was it – I took him home that day,” Bobby said with a huge smile on his face. “He adopted me that day. I couldn’t picture not having him with us as part of the family.”