May Volunteers of the Month- Bernie and Brandon

by Rebecca Reid • Posted in: Volunteer of the Month, Volunteering

Austin Pets Alive! is proud to recognize our Volunteers of the Month for May, Bernie and Brandon.

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As part of the Cattery volunteer team, Bernie and Brandon come in several times a week to work with the cats and even showed up on Thanksgiving and Christmas to help in the Cattery (and they brought delicious homemade treats)!  Here is what their peers had to say about them:

“Bernie and Brandon volunteer several times each week to clean and care for cattery residents. In addition, Bernie led a photography workshop for APA staff and volunteers to learn how to take great photos of shelter cats and help get them homes. These two amazing volunteers are invaluable to the cat program at APA!”

– Monica, Cat Adoptions Manager

“Bernie and his partner Brandon are a vital component of the cattery volunteer team. Every Tuesday and Friday we can count on them to help clean the cattery and work with our cats. They go above and beyond almost every time they come — whether it’s offering to reorganize our storage area, helping to socialize our most anxious and stressed cats, or simply bringing homemade baked goodies to feed hungry counselors and volunteers. Bernie is an instrumental part of the photography team for Cat Marketing as well. Their dedication runs so deep that they elected to spend not only their Thanksgiving but their Christmas helping out in the cattery. I couldn’t recommend them highly enough for the title of Volunteers of the Month.”

– Laylee, TLAC Cat Adoption Counselor

“Bernie recently created an entire presentation on the use of the new DSLR camera, donated to the APA! Cat Program by Jackson Galaxy. He also comes in weekly to photograph cats in our on-site catteries, as well as the foster program… Bernie and Brandon come in every Tuesday and Friday to help clean the TLAC Cattery, and they help out at the Balcones Petsmart Cattery as well… These two guys work tirelessly to serve our program, they always have a positive attitude, and they show their devotion to the cats with every scoop of the box and affectionate nuzzle. I could go on and on with stories about how much work these guys do and how amazing they are…. The cats and staff of APA! are eternally indebted to these two wonderful gentlemen!”

– Alanna, TLAC Cat Adoption Counselor

“This duo is incredible; they work in cattery multiple days a week, every week. Whether they are providing socialization to the cats or scrubbing out litterboxes, they are both always smiling and genuinely happy to be with the cats. Their commitment, dedication, and thoroughness are so very noticed and appreciated.”

– Brittany, Ringworm Ward Manager

Here is more information about Bernie and Brandon:

How did you get interested in volunteering at APA?

Bernie: After retirement I wanted to work with cats to better their lives. I volunteered for a Round Rock TNR organization for a year but, wanting something that was more adoption oriented, began volunteering for APA in September 2013.

Brandon: I began volunteering after visiting APA! with Bernie and seeing the amazing results in these animals’ lives.  It inspired me to do more and give back more.  I saw how much of a better life these animals were living at APA! than the previous places I have volunteered.

What are you most passionate about at APA?

Bernie: Helping get the “less adoptable” cats into good homes. It’s not always obvious to some people that an older animal or one with special needs can be a good choice. It gives me a lot of joy to see a cat of this type adopted.

Brandon: THE ANIMALS by far.  I am here to help them find their forever homes.  Each day when I am at the shelter and an animal is going home, it makes everything worth it.  I love and am so proud that we are a no kill city and it pushes us, as volunteers, to do more to keep it this way.

Do you have a favorite kitty at APA!?

Bernie: It’s difficult to choose a favorite from so many great cats. Usually I have a few special ones that are endearing either because of their great personalities or some specific need. I sometimes refer to these as “project kitties” as I’ve made them a “project” to get adopted. My most recent project kitty, Scamper, found a great home just recently. I think Lulu, a cat that spent 8 days inside a wall before being found and brought to us, is my next project kitty. She needs some good breaks in her life I think.

What’s an interesting fact about you people may not know?

Brandon: I considered myself a dog person up until 5 years ago when I started adopting cats.  I love my car like its a human being.  I’m a pop culture guru!  Ask me anything and you can expect a 2 hour conversation on why you are or are not correct.

What are some words of wisdom for new APA volunteers and fosters?

Bernie: Don’t be afraid to try a variety of volunteer positions to see which best fit your talents and provide you with the most satisfaction.

Brandon: I think people are often scared to volunteer because they are unaware of what they are getting themselves into.  I have talked to some volunteers who thought they were going to be there doing hard labor and whatnot.  As volunteers, there are days I feel like only socializing with the animals.  That is okay.  What people do no realize is it is a necessary part of what we do for these animals to get them back to a normal non-feral state and soon after, adoption.  Don’t be scared.  Try volunteering in every aspect of APA! until you find what is the perfect fit for you.  What is fun and great to me is not always what you are going to love to do too.

“I was a dog person up until five years ago when I started adopting cats,” says Brandon (pictured below).

"I was a dog person up until five years ago when I started adopting cats," says Brandon.

“I wanted to work with cats to better their lives,” says Bernie (pictured below).

"I wanted to work with cats to better their lives," says Bernie.