Outstanding animal volunteer

In October 2012, Kimberly Bean was recognized as an outstanding volunteer for her dedication to helping animals within Washington City Animal Welfare Services (WCAWS) in Utah.  Her commitment to the mission of No More Homeless Pets has supported over 300 animals in finding safe haven since she began volunteering with the shelter in 2010. A mother of four with two dogs of her own, she was turned on to working with shelter animals when a friend of hers was fostering for Homeless Animal Rescue Team (H.A.R.T.) in St. George. While Kim's busy home couldn't facilitate another charge, she realized there was a lot she could do by volunteering in her free time and lending her skill set.

"I asked the local shelter how I could help, and WCAWS officer Robert Kirkland helped me quickly find my niche," says Kim. "When the stray hold is up and if no one has come looking for them, I take photographs of the adoptable cats and dogs and start networking them right away."

Volunteer helps many Utah animal groups

Kim's approach to saving lives is both virtual and hands-on. In addition to taking photos and writing bios in order to network the animals to potential adopters and groups, she also uses her time and money to help transfer animals out of WCAWS.

Kimberly with others at a Las Vegas transport"If there are no options in Utah, I start looking across the country. I'll network dogs to breed rescues and beyond. We've sent dogs out of WCAWS to Arizona, Wyoming; wherever there's a safe place for them to go, we'll get them there," says Kim. "Best Friends has also been helpful in helping us get dogs out of the shelter. They have taken a few dogs with medical issues. Along with working with the No More Homeless Pets Network specialists Lezlie Sage and Kelly Koehler, the organization has assisted in finding further placement."

While Kim thoroughly enjoys seeing the dogs leave the shelter as they go on their way to new homes, she knows she's really helping to turn their lives around. "Animal Control officers have so much to do already," says Kim. "They don't have time to put up adoptable animals on Facebook and post to 20 different groups about this one dog. The networking has also enabled me to help out other groups. I'll do a leg of transport here and there; wherever there's a way I can help, I do it."

Among the other groups Kim has been happy to help include Providing Animals with Support (PAWS), Cause for Paws Utah, Community Animal Welfare Services (CAWS), Utah Animal Advocacy Foundation, Because Animals Matter (BAM), Rescue Rovers Dog Adoptions, and Hearts4Paws.

Another aspect of volunteering in animal welfare that makes Kim happy is she feels like she's part of a bigger community. "I love all the people involved," she says. She also feels empowered by WCAWS. "Officer Kirkland lets me do whatever I need to do. If I need a few more days or something, he'll hold the pet until I can find a solution. I couldn't do what I do if they weren't so supportive."

Oh, and in between hustling the dogs out of the shelter and on to better lives, if Kim's got a few free minutes, she says she'll "run over to the shelter with one of her boys just to throw the ball for one of the dogs."

Outstanding volunteer and TNR advocate

Bindy, one of the dogs Kim helped transport to Las Vegas Lab RescueIn the 12 years Officer Kirkland has been with WCAWS, he says Kim has been a game-changer:

"Back in the day, our volunteers were kids - mostly there do to fulfill community service sentences. Today is a whole new day for homeless pets. We are concentrating on saving lives, and volunteers are critical. Kim is a crucial part of what we are able to accomplish. She is also pushing us towards a robust trap/neuter/return program. Two years ago, we would not have been able to consider TNR, but with someone like Kim behind it, we see her practical approach helping our work, and her results (imbue) the prospect with credence."

He also sees Kim as being a wonderful beacon of hope and action for the whole community. She works with other volunteers in the area, such as longtime TNR advocate Kris Neal, to focus on the issues and realize solutions.

Officer Kirkland explains, "We're all here with the same goal, which is to improve our society, and one way is by controlling the animal population. It cuts down on diseases and reduces the number of animals euthanized in the shelter. Every shelter's goal is to go towards no-kill, and someone like Kim helps make that a reality much quicker."

While all these accolades about Kim are wonderful, there is one sentiment from Officer Kirkland that says it all: "She inspires me to be a better officer."

As for Kim, what fuels her fire and gives her the stamina to keep it going? It's quite simple, she says, "There hasn't been a dog that I worked to find a home who hasn't been adopted!"

Get Involved to help homeless pets

Adopt, foster, donate to Washington City Animal Welfare Services.

For more information on helping animals in Utah, visit the Best Friends-Utah website.

Photos courtesy of Kim Bean