A group of volunteers founded the Winnipeg Humane Society in 1894 and are vital to our success today! With the help of volunteers, we can provide care, love and attention to our four (and sometimes two) legged friends until they find their forever homes. The MVP (Monthly Volunteer Profile) will recognize the work and get to know these special MVP’s in a spotlight each month that includes an article and photo shoot. MVPs will receive a framed photo and gift card as our thanks!
Is there a volunteer you’d like to nominate to be MVP? E-mail us (firstname.lastname@example.org) and tell us why you think they should be an MVP!
MVP is a volunteer-driven project with articles by Brian Kozak and pictures by Jim Harvey.
MVP: Shae Sigvaldason
Dog experts point out that Jack Russells have notoriously high energy levels, but Addie is hard-pressed to keep up with the pace that Shae sets for herself.
Shae volunteers between two and 12 hours a week at the WHS as a dog walker. She works 3.5 – 7.5 hours each weekend in the WHS Education department. The Grade 11 student is a high school cheerleader who also takes some Grade 12 classes in her spare time so her senior year of high school will be ‘a little easier.’ And she also helps out at two WHS Signature Events: Paws for the Season and The Fairmont Winnipeg Paws in Motion.
Shae’s dedication and willingness to lend a hand has certainly not gone unnoticed. “Shae has been volunteering with us since July 2016, and already has over 165 hours of volunteering,” said Special Events Volunteer Coordinator Carlie Caslake. “That’s an average of 15-20 hours a month!”
She’s always loved and had dogs, but her desire to be a volunteer at the WHS began when they adopted Addie five years ago. “Ever since I was little I’ve wanted to volunteer here, but when I was 12 I convinced my family to adopt a dog from here,” she explained. “I loved the place and I told myself ‘I have to volunteer here.’”
Shae’s family always had boxers while she was growing up, and Addie was the first exception to the rule. Addie’s playmates are Kai, a 12-year-old, four-pound Chihuahua and Sawyer, an 11-month-old, 70-pound Boxer.
“Addie has a lot of energy but we have a yard where she can work it all out,” she laughed. “We’re probably a good match for each other because we both have a lot of energy.”
But how did Shae get started in this extreme volunteering? “I keep myself busy. I can’t not be busy,” she explained. “I go to school at Kelvin and I have spares most afternoons so I just pick up odd volunteer shifts during the day.”
“There have been weeks when I’ve been here Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday and sometimes I’ll volunteer before my shift starts on Saturday and I’ll come in Sunday. I also try to volunteer for any special events I can. Some of them don’t work out with school because I cheer and it’s a lot.”
In her short time at the WHS Shae has progressed to the point where she is now a yellow dog walker, meaning she works high energy and sometimes jumpy dogs. She said she sometimes takes a green walker (starter) or pink walker (intermediate) with her on a walk and teach them about handling the yellow dogs.
She enjoys working with the staff and volunteers but develops a real bond with the dogs in her care. “There was a German Shepherd named Lily,” she said. “I would come in and spend up to eight hours a week with her. I would walk with her on the leash or just sit with her in her room. I came in one day and got to meet the family that was adopting her. They had a farm so there was lots of room for her and two teenagers for her to play with, so I knew this was a good place for her. Of course it’s a little sad to see your favourite dog go home but you reassure yourself that she’s going with a good family.”
Shae also remembered the story of Sarah, another dog at the shelter. One day she went into Sarah’s room and just sat with her. Soon, Sarah fell asleep on Shae’s lap. Some visitors saw that and adopted Sarah. “They told me ‘that’s what we want to see in a dog.’ It’s the best feeling to know that you had a little bit to do with it.
Shae’s love and care for the dogs at our shelter is very much appreciated and we know we can always count on her to lend a helping hand,” added Carlie Caslake. “We are so thankful for her involvement and everything she has done for the animals in our care.”
Shae also recruits friends to volunteer at the WHS. “I got two of my schoolmates to come volunteer here,” she added. “They’re both cat cuddlers. Because you always need more help and they adore it. It’s a great break from the stress of school.“