Each month, Austin Pets Alive! is thrilled to highlight one of our stand-out volunteers as the APA! Volunteer of the Month.
This month, we are excited to honor the exemplary work of our Dog Program star, Heather Jafar!
This is what just a few of her peers here at APA! have to say about her dedication and great work:
“[Heather] goes above and beyond in her doggie duties. She is at the shelter on what must be a daily basis. She is cheerful, friendly, and helpful to newcomers like myself. The number of dogs she has put on the Rufftail Runners list is impressive, as are her efforts to get orange-collar dogs out on the trail. She is an excellent communicator, posting info about doggies available for Rufftail Runners, as well as, posting updates on the APA! Facebook pages and responding to others’ postings. This is just what I’ve seen personally… probably a drop in the bucket compared to all she does.”
– Mary Lou Price
“Heather is out [at APA!] so much, walking dogs and getting them evaluated for RTR. That means these dogs will be eligible to get out to the trial for some very healthy, long walks or runs. And, they will be exposed to more normal life and to more people… [becoming] better equipped for an easy transition to life with someone in their home. I think what Heather does is so valuable for these dogs. She then takes photos of them and let’s everyone on Facebook know that they are ready to get out there. It’s so wonderful.”
– Leora Orent
Here’s a little more about Heather…
How did you get interested in volunteering at APA?
Years ago when APA! was in its earliest days, I met Dr. Ellen Jefferson while walking my dog in the neighborhood. I casually offered to help, and she let me know that a mother dog and her litter of 6 puppies were to be euthanized that evening. She desperately needed a foster for 2 weeks, but her own home was full. My husband and I took on the challenge, and have admired both APA! and Ellen ever since.
What are you most passionate about at APA?
The volunteers and staff at APA! are both a community and family. Never have I met such a wonderful, diverse, supportive group of talented individuals from all walks of life. We all share the same mission, and that is to save lives while making the stay of our APA! furry friends as enriching as possible while they wait for their forever homes.
What is your favorite thing to do at APA?
I love nothing more than to walk around Town Lake with an Austin Pets Alive! dog. I find tremendous fulfillment in helping the dogs transform over time with “real world” experiences. The dogs gain confidence through being exposed to new sights and sounds, and benefit from practicing their obedience skills in this real world environment. And, time out of the noisy kennel environment to exercise in nature is very therapeutic for them. This is what I do to stay fit, both mentally and physically. It is impossible to be in a bad mood after working out with one of our great dogs!
What are some words of wisdom for new APA volunteers?
Two things come to mind: As a new volunteer, it can be overwhelming and confusing at first, so, my advice is “Just Ask!” The Staff and other volunteers are incredibly supportive and want nothing more than for you to have a fun and safe experience with the animals at APA! Anyone will help, so don’t be shy about asking questions!
My other word of advice is to follow your passion at APA! There are literally dozens of different volunteer opportunities, from Vet Tech to Social Media. APA! has an opportunity for you to do what you love, while helping the organization. I happen to love exercising in nature with dogs, so that’s what I do!
Do you have a favorite dog or cat at APA?
My favorites are always my “Littles” I am currently working with. As a participant of the Big Brother/Big Sister program here at APA!, I have two Littles right now, Kate and Tyler. We work on obedience training, and we exercise together on Town Lake. Kate also goes shopping with me on 2nd Street and to Jos from time to time. I love them both very much and they are both wonderful companions.
What’s an interesting fact about you people may not know?
I was terrified of dogs of all sizes up until eight years ago when we adopted our dog Pasha. Can you believe it? I can hardly recognize myself sometimes.