Want a job with no pay, lousy hours and stinky?
Help Wanted: No pay, hours can be lousy, and sometimes it stinks.
That plea from animal shelters and rescues across the country doesn't sound very appealing. But thousands of volunteers answer the call every day.
"I don't know how we could function without volunteers," said Robin Starr, who is in charge of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in Richmond, Virginia.
Jobs include that often smelly cleanup chore. But every facility also needs people to feed, walk, groom, train, play with and show animals. They also need office and other help.
Karen Gammon, 58, donates her art for auctions and the gift store at Starr's shelter. She used a charcoal-smothered canvas and then an eraser to peel away the charcoal.
"One year, the bidding got to $11,000, so she agreed to do two drawings at that price, making $22,000 for the shelter," Starr said.
At Florida's Humane Society of Vero Beach and Indian River County, Cornelia Perez, 72, started volunteering 60 years ago, when she rode her bike to a shack by the railroad tracks and they let her walk the dogs.
She was away for a while, at boarding school, college and an early career, and returned in 1984. She put pails in supermarkets for food donations and coordinated the building campaign for the shelter that replaced the shack. She now volunteers at the state-of-the-art shelter that replaced the building.
Jourdan Giron, who turns 21 this month, signed up in February for eight hours a month at the SPCA in Los Angeles. She already has put in over 325 volunteer hours, well over the 64 promised.
"I'm just happy being here and I don't want to leave," she said.
Usually shy, she is comfortable when talking to customers about animals. Giron does those smelly jobs too. She sees it as a matter of faith.
"I know," she said, "it's because they trust me to go in the kennels."
Critical thinking challenge: Why must shelters depend on volunteers who work for no pay? Why are people willing to work for no pay?