5 men making a difference for homeless pets

Alida and Gary Oldham with Cleopatra the cat, who is nose-to-nose with Gary
This Father’s Day, tip your hat to the men in your community who are helping pets in their own way.
By Nicole Hamilton and Sarah Thornton

No matter where you live, you can be certain that there are men in your community who are making a huge difference for pets. Perhaps they adopted a cat or dog from the local shelter and now encourage others to do the same. Or, considering that it’s kitten season, maybe they’re trying to keep up with a litter of fuzzy little ones (good luck with that!) as kitten foster volunteers.

In the spirit of Father’s Day, here are five stories about men who are helping pets in their own way. Make sure to give the ones you know a heartfelt and hearty thank-you this holiday, because Father’s Day is their day, too.

1. Adopter helps a curious cat thrive

Sam DeMastrie lived on his own, and a feline friend seemed like exactly what he needed. Through a quiz on the Best Friends website, and emails with adoption specialists at Best Friends Animal Sanctuary, he narrowed down the options. When someone recommended Tigger, a cat who’s an escape artist and has personality in spades, Sam checked out his profile and loved what he read. After meeting Tigger, he adopted him.

Today, Sam has made his home a place of enrichment (whether it’s toys or unfortunate feet under the blanket) for Tigger, complete with plenty of opportunities to spend time outside on the porch with him. Now, Tigger will casually take a few steps out the door, and go about 10 feet on his walks before finding a patch of grass to chew on or flop over in. He’s finally home.

Read more about Sam and Tigger »

2. Volunteer driver puts in the miles for pets

Gary Oldham’s allergies were so bad when he lived in New Zealand that it made fostering pets out of the question, but after he and his wife, Alida, moved to Salt Lake City in 2015, his allergies cleared up. This, in turn, created a wonderful opportunity for Gary to begin volunteering with pets. Now Gary not only fosters cats and dogs from the Best Friends center in Salt Lake City, he’s a dedicated volunteer driver who loves making overnight trips all over Utah and elsewhere.

[Meet the caregiver: Tim Dempsey]

“I really enjoy driving, especially here in Utah with the amazing scenery. So, being able to combine that with helping animals has been very rewarding,” says Gary. “Getting these animals where they need to go is an important part of the overall process of reaching no-kill.”

Read more about Gary’s volunteer work »

3. A fantastic volunteer (and a pretty convincing Santa to boot)

Bob Burleson spends a good part of his week volunteering with Best Friends in Houston along with his wife, Penny. He’s often one of the first to sign up when the team needs someone to drive cats and dogs from shelters to Best Friends. In fact, last year he and Penny took part in a transport of more than 90 kittens from Houston to the Sanctuary.

[97 kittens, an RV, and one lifesaving mission]

The trip was pretty epic, but then so was the time when Bob donned a red velvet suit and played the role of Santa Claus at a Best Friends event. Perhaps Bob will reprise his role as Santa this next holiday season. In the meantime, you can be sure he’s somewhere in Houston (or perhaps on the road) giving pets in need the gifts of love and compassion.

Read Bob’s full story »

4. Fostering kittens, and learning about purring in the process

Ramandeep Singh, a software engineer for Walmart, was in a meeting at work one day when someone brought up Best Friends in Northwest Arkansas. That got him thinking about his love for animals, and how much he missed being around them. The last time he’d lived with a dog was when he was 13.

[Fifth grader becomes dog foster phenomenon]

That meeting was the catalyst that inspired Ramandeep to start volunteering with cats (who had always been a bit of a mystery to him) at the Best Friends center in Bentonville. Eventually, he decided to foster some kittens. One night, he heard one of his foster kittens make an odd sound. It worried him, so he called Best Friends staff. And that’s how he learned about purring.

Read Ramandeep’s story »

5. Radio DJ takes to the airwaves to help get pets adopted

After DJ Erik Smith adopted Nash from Best Friends in Los Angeles, he dreamed of one day helping other dogs get adopted, too. “He taught us that the labels people put on us do not define us,” says Erik, who often catches Nash snoozing with his six-year-old daughter or watching movies with his three-year-old son.

When Erik moved to Houston and became the co-host of 100.3 FM’s The Morning Bullpen with George, Mo & Erik, he had an idea: What if he could highlight adoptable pets from Best Friends in Houston on the show? Both The Bull and the team at Best Friends loved the idea. Now Erik promotes adoptable dogs and cats from Best Friends on the air and encourages listeners to get involved by adopting or signing up to foster pets.

Read Erik’s story »

Are you inspired to volunteer, too?

Signing up to volunteer at your local shelter or rescue only takes minutes, but the love and care you provide pets will last lifetimes.

Volunteer Near You

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