How this volunteer pet adoption counselor helps save lives
As a dedicated Best Friends volunteer, Ruth Temple is passionate about helping save the lives of homeless animals in Los Angeles. Her love of animals began years ago when she adopted a puppy for her then 10-year-old son. Just a few days after she brought him home, the puppy managed to win over her son’s heart, and hers, too. Now she can’t imagine living without animals, and when she decided it was time to give back to her community as a volunteer, she looked no further than the NKLA Pet Adoption Center in Los Angeles. That’s the power of puppies for you.
It’s been nearly four years since Ruth, who is originally from London, England, first walked in the front doors of the busy NKLA center and signed up to be a volunteer. Since then, Ruth has worked every weekend at the front desk, where she greets visitors, answers phones and talks to visitors about adopting a pet. It’s no easy feat, considering the adoption center is always bustling.
“Ruth is the first smiling face guests see, and she hosts dozens of tours each weekend, all with her warm personality and fantastic accent,” says Katie O’Shaughnessy, lead pet caregiver at the center. “The busier, the better for Ruth. She loves the hustle and bustle of busy days and promotional events.”
It’s a contrast, says Katie, to Ruth’s peaceful presence. “Her commitment and support are inspiring and beyond appreciated,” she says. “I instantly feel better when Ruth arrives for her volunteer shift.”
Los Angeles is making big strides in the no-kill movement, and people like Ruth are helping make it happen. Learn more about what inspires Ruth to help save lives.
Why did you decide to volunteer with Best Friends and what motivates you to continue to help the animals?
I had been thinking for a while that I would like to do something in animal welfare. I happened to read an article about NKLA and I immediately signed up for an orientation. I started to volunteer at the center shortly after that. I continue to do so because I enjoy everything about the NKLA Pet Adoption Center: the facility, the people, the dogs and cats, and the satisfaction of helping to find loving homes for all the animals in our care. Additionally, it’s so rewarding that NKLA has made such an impact on animals in Los Angeles.
Do you have pets?
I have a German shepherd mix who I found as a stray living on the streets about eight years ago. He was emaciated and had lost most of his hair due to mange. I already had two dogs at that time and didn’t plan on keeping him permanently, but by the time I restored him to health, I couldn’t part with him. I also have a terrier mix, who I found sitting alone in a parking lot when he was just a few weeks old. l adore them both!
What inspires you the most in your volunteer work?
The dedication of the staff and the volunteers to the well-being of the dogs and cats in their care, and their commitment to finding the best home for an animal’s individual needs.
What would you tell others who are thinking of becoming a volunteer with Best Friends?
There are so many ways to help out that there is sure to be something you would enjoy doing! Moreover, you would undoubtedly find it rewarding, as you would also be contributing to the welfare of the animals and helping the effort to save as many of them as possible.
Since becoming a Best Friends volunteer, what have you learned, and do you see things differently now?
I have learned so much about the shelter system and how to be an advocate for shelter animals. I have also learned a lot about dog and cat behavior, which has helped me on a personal level with one of my own dogs’ behavioral issues. I now know how many wonderful animals are in shelters, and I know that one needs to educate others to not buy from breeders and pet stores and, instead, save a life.
In terms of your volunteer work for Best Friends, what are you most proud of?
Every volunteer contributes to the wellness and happiness of the animals, and to help their chances of being adopted. And I am proud that I am part of that effort.
What does volunteering mean to you and why do you do it?
I do it because of the enjoyment and satisfaction I get from volunteering, and for the positive contributions I am making to the Best Friends family.
Tell us about your favorite volunteer moment.
I don’t have one particular moment, but my favorite ones, are when animals who may have been in the shelter system for a long time and may have behavioral issues, finally get adopted. Those are the ones that bring me to tears.
Photos by Wendi Boden, Katie O'Shaughnessy and courtesy of Ruth Temple