FAIRFIELD — Susan Stockton rubbed her hand along the glass of an animal shelter kennel and the tabby inside rubbed against its side, as if being petted.
“They just love the attention,” Stockton said.
Stockton is among the volunteers who give animals at the Solano County Animal Shelter a little bit of attention. She spends about six hours there each Wednesday.
The shelter usually has anywhere from 60 to 110 cats. There’s plenty to do there, above and beyond the essential work done by staff.
Stockton gives the cats a small cup of wet food with some medicine mixed in. That helps protect them against upper respiratory diseases.
She talks to the people who come to the shelter, trying to help them adopt the cat that best suits them.
And she’s just there trying to give each cat a few minutes of attention — “speed dating,” she calls it. She picks them up and pets them.
“Otherwise, they forget,” she said. “They get wary. They forget how to behave well with humans.”
She wishes more people would volunteer to help. It would be wonderful if four people could come in two hours a day to be with the cats, she said.
Stockton first volunteered at the shelter six years ago, after an early retirement.
“I knew I wanted to volunteer somewhere,” she said. “I’ve always been around animals and cats in particular. When I came out here – it used to break my heart. My husband and I always picked an animal out from the shelter.”
Now she’s at the shelter every week, trying to make each cat’s life there better, two minutes at a time.
Barbara Schacherl is another shelter volunteer. Nine years ago, she found herself with time on her hands. She decided she wanted to do volunteer work with animals.
“I’m a dog person,” she said. “I have four cats and a dog at home, but I’m a dog person.”
She started out walking the dogs, going to the shelter for three hours, twice a week. Then she spearheaded a program for volunteers to work with staff on evaluating the dogs, figuring out whether the dogs taken in had the qualities that made them adoptable.
She also works with people who want to adopt dogs, making certain they know what to expect.
“You’re not going to give a pit bull to someone who lives in an apartment and has a 6-foot square yard,” she said.
The shelter usually has 120 to 140 dogs.
Today, Schacherl says she is flexible with the time she works at the shelter. She’s worked 20 hours a week and three days a week.
“It kind of depends,” she said.
She also started Animal Lifeline, a nonprofit that helps with low-cost spays and neuters and various public awareness efforts.
Mabrey Scott volunteered at the shelter 12 years ago, at a time when it didn’t take volunteers. She persisted until that changed.
“I was a bit shocked they didn’t want anybody,” Scott said.
She started out working with dogs at the shelter, then decided to focus on cats and kittens. That led to her work with Solano County Animal Rescue Foundation, a nonprofit that helps give homeless dogs, cats and rabbits a home and promotes spays and neuters for animals.
For all three volunteers, the payoff comes when an animal gets a good home.
“I think the whole reason I do this is it gives you the greatest sense of fulfilment you could ask for,” Scott said.
Stockton joyfully recalled the day that Cleopatra and a tortoiseshell – both chubby cats – were adopted together.
The shelter has about 15 volunteers, Sheriff’s Lt. Cathy Raymos, the shelter’s operations manager, said.
Solano County is looking for more. People interested can go to www.co.solano.ca.us/depts/sheriff/animalcare/volunteer.asp or come to the shelter at 2510 Clay Bank Road for applications.
Reach Barry Eberling at 427-6929 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/beberlingdr.