To say that Winnipeg Humane Society volunteer Kayla Kostal is busy would be a gross understatement.
She’s a full-time student at the University of Manitoba. She has a part-time job, as well as other volunteer commitments. But in spite of all those other demands for her time, she still fits in a two-hour shift every second week at the shelter.
And she’s been volunteering with the WHS for close to five years. She began as an Animal Care Attendant and helped as a Pet Shop Assistant. Then close to four years ago, she became an Evening Care Provider, feeding the cats in all areas of the shelter.
The job is not like spooning out food at a buffet. Every cat has its own food needs. “There’s so many different kinds of cat food,” Kayla explained. “You have to make sure you’re giving the right food.”
Each cat has an information sheet that outlines its specific food requirements. Some cats are wet food only, while others may need specific food that’s high in fibre or for conditions like gastrointestinal issues, urinary tract infections or any other medical issue.
The volunteer role also involves assessing cats’ behaviour towards people. “We have a sheet to fill out after feeding the cats,” Kayla explained. “For example, if there’s a cat that’s angry and hisses, it’ll get a level five on our sheet. But if a cat’s super-friendly and going ‘pet me, love me,’ that’s a level zero.” Kayla added that the anger (and the shyness you often see in cats new to the shelter) usually disappears with time.
“My supervisor once told me that giving the food to the cats –as well as giving them a bit of attention –is a great way of helping the cats become more used to and trusting of people,” Kayla pointed out. “And I think that makes them more adoptable. Which is what we’re all trying to do at the Winnipeg Humane Society.”
Like so many WHS employees and volunteers, Kayla became involved with the Humane Society out of a love for animals.
“I love all animals and I want to make time for them. I want to help every animal possible,” she said.
“I think part of the reason I feel this way is that I grew up having no animals because my parents were allergic. Luckily I’m not allergic, so I started volunteering here to fill that gap. Even if I could, right now with being so busy I don’t enough time for an animal so I make time for them and have that little part of my heart filled by being here.”Kayla sees so many cats and loves them all, but has a special fondness for the newborn kittens in the shelter with their moms. “They’re the cutest things ever,” she said.
She also has high praise for the staff and other volunteers at the Humane Society and the overall work environment. “I love the staff and volunteers here,” she said. “They are the nicest people you’ll ever meet –absolute sweethearts who are here because they love animals. Everyone at the WHS is friendly and willing to give of their time to help you or just ask you how you’re doing.”
Kayla would also like to see more young people consider volunteering at the WHS. “If you’re busy with life but you have a passion for animals, come volunteer here,” she said. “You’ll enjoy it. There are so many roles to fill and you’ll find something that matches for you. If you’re crazy-busy, two hours every week or two is just fine. You can come here and get part of your heart filled.”
Written by: Brian Kozak, Volunteer MVP Writer
Photo by: Jim Harvey, Volunteer MVP Photographer
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!