They say once you find something that fulfills you, it’s hard to walk away. That’s the case for Katherine Duckett and her relationship with Austin Pets Alive!, which began nine years ago when her daughter and she saw their neighbor fostering puppies. Of course, being naturally curious, they asked what it was all about. Not long after, they were itching to get involved: “Once I saw what people were doing at APA!, I wanted to be a part of it,” stated Katherine. “Animals have always been near and dear to my heart and an integral part of my childhood. To help or just improve the lives of these dogs and cats really pulled at my heart.”
She began her volunteer experience as a dog walker and helping with data entry. Now, on most days, you can find her surrounded by kittens and cats. She is a volunteer feeder at the Neonatal Kitten Nursery, a mentor for fosters of pregnant and nursing cats, supports our staff on all things cat education, and she fosters Panleukopenia kittens and volunteers in the Panleukopenia ward. Her daughters are also still very connected with APA! – one is even on staff in the nursery!
Why Katherine keeps coming back to volunteer year after year is simple: “I love feeling like I have made a difference in the lives of the animals I have personally interacted/fed that day. When not interacting with the cats, I enjoy supporting others who are also helping with APA!’s mission.”
She wishes people could witness how sweet and loving all these animals in need are, and understand that everyone deserves a chance at life: “Instead of writing an animal off because they have ringworm, parvo, or panleukopenia, know that they can easily be saved.” She goes on to express that if individuals saw first-hand all the work people do here to help vulnerable animals find their forever home, she believes people would be more aware and think twice from buying from a breeder.
Katherine has been touched by many moments during her time as a volunteer, but one kitten, who went by the name Xtarburst, has left a tremendous impact: “I took him from the nursery when he tested positive for panleuk. He was also on various medications, as well as having a large raw wound under his arm and on his paw. Once treated and cleared of PL, this poor guy had to have his wound cleaned and medicated every day and wear a cone. Through all this, my family became very attached to this sweet boy. We fostered him for two months (a long time for kittens). He fit into our household perfectly, and it was so hard to let him go. He is one of the fosters we still think back on and miss.”
When asked about what was the most valuable thing she’s learned since working at APA!, there was a pause: “What a tough question!” said Katherine, “I have learned so much about the health and welfare of animals, how many animals are in need of help, and the complexity of running a shelter, plus so much more. The most important thing, though, is learning how much of a difference one person can make in the lives of animals over the years. I’m amazed at the generosity of people. When we all come together to work as a community, it is amazing what can be accomplished.”
When asked if she’d be a volunteer for the years to come, there was no pause in her answer this time: “Absolutely! I have come to love the APA! Family. [It’s] full of passionate people. Plus, the enormous strides APA! has made is so great to see. The neonatal kitten team is the best team, and I am so grateful to get to be a part of it.” Well we assure you, Katherine, the feeling is mutual.
It would be impossible to fulfill our mission and save so many vulnerable lives without volunteers like Katherine. Our volunteers truly are the heart and soul of what we do here. If you’re interested in helping save the lives of vulnerable pets, sign up to volunteer with us today!