Pet adoption volunteer goes above and beyond

After adopting a French bulldog (‘Frenchie') rescued from a puppy mill, one woman finds her passion volunteering to help homeless pets in New York.
By Jennifer Hayes

Kirstin Burdett could never have guessed that when she chose to adopt a French bulldog (also known as a “Frenchie”) and volunteer at a Best Friends Super Adoption that those two events would change the course of her life. Now she’s a valued Best Friends volunteer helping to find new homes for dogs and cats in the Big Apple, and she couldn’t be happier.

Adopt a Frenchie dog, ignite a passion

While searching Petfinder back in 2014, Kirstin made a connection with a rescue group that had a French bulldog who’d been saved from a puppy mill. She adopted Scooter, who not only brought love to her life, but also the realization that there are opportunities to volunteer in animal welfare.

Find adoptable pets near you

Kirstin has loved animals her whole life and at one point she even wanted to become a veterinarian. Scooter’s adoption rekindled her urge to help animals. So when a friend asked if she’d like to volunteer with animals at the Best Friends–New York Super Adoption, she jumped at the chance and hasn’t looked back.

New York volunteer Kirstin Burdett with a Scooter the French bulldog

Start to finish

New York volunteer Kirstin Burdett with a Koch, the Maltese mix dog she fosteredNow, Kirstin plans time off from work to attend all three days of super adoption events and volunteers as an adoption counselor for as many shifts as she can. “It’s what I love to do,” she says. “For me, I’m happiest when I’m in that role.”

She also helps volunteer with pets at Best Friends–New York pop-up adoption events and the newly opened Little Lions cat café, and her passion to help animals has even followed her home.

She first got the opportunity to foster a dog when she took home Koch, a nine-year-old Maltese mix with borderline Cushing’s disease. His age and potential medical needs could have limited his chances for adoption, but Kirstin focused on the positive — posting regularly about Koch on social media in addition to promoting him at adoption events. It wasn’t long before he met his match and was adopted by a loving couple who don’t mind that he may need a bit of extra medical help. Best of all, Kirstin sees updates on Koch regularly on social media.

Adoption resource

Kirstin takes very seriously her responsibility of finding just the right homes for animals. She knows that people can sometimes feel judged when inquiring about adopting a pet because some organizations have strict adoption policies. So she makes sure the process is inviting and positive when they are interested in adopting a pet from Best Friends.

“I love that Best Friends looks for reasons to adopt, rather than reasons not to adopt to somebody,” says Kirstin.

When she had her first opportunity to volunteer on her own last August at multiple New York Urban Outfitters-hosted adoption events for Best Friends, she immediately said yes. She made a point to personally meet each of the people who adopted cats and kittens from the store in order to give adopters the care and attention they deserve.

Finding her passion

Kirstin is forever grateful to the friend who encouraged her to first volunteer at the Best Friends Super Adoption in New York. She’s now found her place in life.

“One of my missions is to educate those around me so that they know that myths are myths and what’s true and what’s not true,” says Kirstin of the pet adoption process. “It’s important to me that people have someone to reach out to with questions, because if they don’t have anyone, they’ll go to a breeder or a pet store. For me, it’s important to be that resource for people.”

“I feel like I didn’t know what it was that I wanted to do and how to use my strengths until I started volunteering with Best Friends,” says Kirstin. “It’s what I love and what I definitely want and plan to dedicate my life to.”

Volunteer with Best Friends

New York volunteer Kirstin Burdett helping at an adoption event

Photos courtesy of Kirstin Burdett and Maria Hertneck

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