Give it a go: Helping to care for homeless animals rewarding but bittersweet

Stuff reporters in Manawatū have been challenged to “give it a go” this summer, and try something new. Commencing the series, Rachel Moore finds helping out at the Palmerston North SPCA is heavy on the heart.

There are about 60 cats and kittens, and two dogs, to welcome me. It’s clear the volunteers are well outnumbered. .

With four paid staff, the centre is held together with the help of 45 volunteers, who pitch in an hour or two a week to care for the animals.

They are a crucial cog in the machine; cleaning and walking dogs, throwing balls, and giving animals love on a daily basis.

I helped two volunteers one morning who were responsible for the dogs and their pens.

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David Unwin/Stuff

Stuff reporter Rachel Moore finding face time is important to Nala.

The two dogs are put in the outdoor run for some fresh air and exercise. Meanwhile, the volunteers hose, mop and disinfect pens, fold blankets, and fill water bowls.

The outside area is next, where dog poo is picked up, kennels are cleaned, bark is swept up and water bowls are filled.

Once the cleaning is finished, volunteers get the opportunity to give the dogs some well-deserved love and attention.

David Unwin/Stuff

Nala tries to hop in her water bowl on a warm day in Palmerston North.

Although it’s sad the dogs are in the shelter and without a home, as a volunteer I felt like I was doing everything I could to make their stay as happy as possible.

I found it rewarding to be able to clean their pens, and make sure they are living their best lives until a family comes and falls in love with one.

Nala rolls her ball under the fence for the volunteers to throw, while she runs to fetch it in an endless game of catch.

David Unwin/Stuff

Louis is a puppy that wants endless cuddles and attention.

Louis is cuddly puppy, who can’t resist head rubs, belly rubs and ear scratches and wants unlimited amounts of attention.

Watching their faces light up when I threw them the ball, or rubbed their belly, was the highlight of my morning.

The two dogs are considerably outnumbered by the 60 felines. It is kitten season, and it isn’t uncommon for people to come in with half a dozen at once.

There are 10 adult cats for adoption, and 10 kittens, as well as about 40 in the back rooms that aren’t ready for adoption.

David Unwin/Stuff

There are 10 kittens and 10 adult cats ready for adoption at the Palmerston North SPCA.

The centre can hold up to about eight dogs, and staff are thankful that only two remained in the lead up to Christmas.

It also has rabbits and guinea pigs waiting for a home.

The hardest part for me was leaving the dogs behind, when my time was up. All I wanted to do was take one of them home with me.

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