Chica Who Care: Isabel Rivera

Ever visited your local rescue shelter for homeless pets?  It’s downright impossible for your heart not to melt at the site of a wide-eyed puppy or kitty staring back at you from behind a cage. The sad truth is that an overwhelmingly high number of homeless pets are put to sleep on a daily basis across the nation.  Their heartwarming little faces, unfortunately, are not enough to save them.  The good news is, you can help!  One volunteer shares how she got involved in the “saving lives” cause with her local Humane Society and how it totally changed the direction of her life!

Full Name: Isabel Rivera

Age: 15

School: Transmountain Early College High School, El Paso, Texas

Organization: Humane Society of El Paso

What is the Humane Society? Tell us about the organization:

The Humane Society is a nonprofit organization with a small dedicated staff and large amount of dedicated volunteers that help save lives of animals that roam the streets of El Paso.  We give them a second chance at life by rescuing homeless pets that are scheduled to be put to sleep at Animal Services. They also provide other services and enable pet owners to improve pets’ lives through community events and fundraisers.

What made you want to volunteer ?

Two main reasons: First, in order to graduate from my high school you need volunteer hours.  Secondly, I wanted to do more than just meet the requirement.  I wanted to make a difference and stick to the commitment for the rest of my life.  I had heard of the Humane Society, but never actually visited.  On my first visit, I saw how caring and truly dedicated the volunteers and staff were to saving the animals and giving them a new life.  It was inspiring.

What are your responsibilities at the Humane Society? Can you give a description of a typical day?

I volunteer at the offsite adoptions on weekends. The purpose of offsite adoptions is to make adoptable pets more accessible to the public. We take about 14 dogs each time and assist potential adopters in finding the perfect companion.  We educate about the importance of spaying and neutering while trying to get as many adoptions as possible.  We make them understand that the animals also have hearts and are capable of loving.  I also go to the shelter and mentor new volunteers that come on Sundays to help and may not have as much experience.  I am also an Adoption Counselor in which my job is to match potential adopters with the perfect pet.

Tell us about some of the events/fundraisers that you’ve helped out with:

Ohhh! I love this topic because events are fun. I have been volunteering for more than one year now and have participated in several events.  The first one was the Humane Society’s annual Telethon on Channel 7 News.  The program ran for half the day in effort to get donations from viewers as well as showcase adoptable homeless pets. It was my first day volunteering and I had so much fun!  It was great because so many homeless pets were adopted as a result of the event.  Another event was the Dog Fair. All the local animal shelters and rescue leagues were present and we were able to adopt some pets out that day.  The public were able to bring their pets to the event which made it family and pet friendly.  Another big event was the El Paso Marathon where volunteers worked a water station dressed as dogs and cats!  Our goal was to promote the Humane Society and win the “most flamboyant” contest for prize money.  We won third place which was so cool!  It was great to see the tired runners smile at us as we tried to motivate them to keep going.

Why is Humane Society important to you?

I love animals and volunteering helped me make the decision to become a veterinarian.  I am making a difference and I feel a bond with the volunteers and animals (It is bittersweet when they find a forever home). I get involved by educating my community about saving homeless pets’ lives. It changed my life and that was the goal I hoped to achieve if I were to volunteer.  Help is always available for humans, it’s the animals’ turn.

What are your future goals and dreams? How does volunteering  play into your plans for the future?

At first I wanted to be an engineer but volunteering with the Humane Society made me realize I can do something even better- save lives.  I now aspire to be a veterinarian in animal welfare and can’t wait to make saving lives a career!

What advice would you give to our readers who want to get involved and volunteer?

Open your eyes!  Look around for animals roaming the streets that need to be rescued.  Call or go to your local Humane Society or Animal Shelter and find out how you can help.  It’s easy to get involved!  Spread the word around your school about the cause.  Shelters are always in need of supplies.  Start a drive at your school for shelter items.  Ask the shelter if you can set up a donation box at your school.  Stay connected with them in case they need extra volunteers for an event.

Is there any particular pet success story you would like to share with our readers?

A Great Dane mix named Roxy. She was shy and very protective of her space and because of that she was at the Humane Society for two years.  One volunteer named Alex spent a lot of time getting her comfortable with humans.  Over time she finally understood what it meant to be loved.  She finally found a forever home with a family that fell in love with her the moment they saw her.  She was a little scared at first but quickly warmed up to them and they adopted her.  She remains with her forever home to this day which is absolutely wonderful.  I truly believe Alex was the one who helped give Roxy a new life.

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