MVP: Claire Blomeley
Animal Intake volunteer Claire Blomeley cares – a lot. She grew up caring for others and her community. She’s a nurse in her everyday life, caring for recovery room patients at Health Sciences Centre. But most weeks (when she’s not working evenings) you’ll find her taking care of animals that have been surrendered.
“I grew up attending Girl Guides and doing community activities,” she said. “I really wanted to find something that was separate from my work but meant giving back to my community. However, because I work as a nurse I wanted something that wasn’t necessarily directly people-related.”
“When I started with the Winnipeg Humane Society (WHS) you began your volunteering with a tour of the building,’ she continued. “They told me that in Intake, anything and everything comes in the door, and that appealed to me.”
In almost 14 years, Claire has seen a wide variety of animals, including your domesticated dogs, cats and rabbits, but also wildlife like swans, ducks, geese and–once –a flying squirrel. While the domesticated animals are kept in house, the wildlife is referred to organizations like Fort Whyte Alive of the PrairieWildlife Rehabilitation Centre who are equipped to care for those animals.
Claire says a lot of what she does is cleaning and setting up the cages used for animals that are brought in, so they can be moved on to Holding as soon as possible. Sometimes her care goes above and beyond the job description.
She recalled one night where a lady surrendered her 23-year-old cat that was ailing and needed to be put to sleep. “I set the cat up with a nice clean cage with a comfy pillow,” she explained. “When it was quieter in here I went in the back and spent some time with that cat. I thought ‘this is your last night on Earth, let’s give you some love and make you comfortable’.”
While some of the experiences Claire has had in Intake after so many years are sad, she is quick to point out she’s seen many happy stories as well. “I’ve gotten to bottle-feed kittens that come in here,” she pointed out.“One of the other things I do is take people on walk-throughs to look for their lost pet. When you’re taking someone on a walk-through and suddenly they see a cat and say ‘That’s him,’ that’s the most rewarding thing because you get to take a cat out of the shelter and send him back home. Then you remind the owners to get their pets tattooed or micro-chipped.”
“I love that every shift is different,” she said. “Some days it seems like I do a lot of walk-throughs. Other days I’m setting up a many rabbit cages and other days I might be feeding a lot of kittens.“
She fondly remembered the time a truck driver came in to surrender two cats that had stowed away on a truck that he had driven up from Marietta, Georgia. And what did the WHS name the cats? Marietta and Georgia, of course. No word on whether they meowed with a Southern accent.
With her lengthy volunteer service record, Claire has seen many changes to the WHS, not the least of which is the day-and-night comparison of the old building compared to the new building. “It’s so much easier to keep the building clean and, in turn, take better care of the animals now,” she said. “In the old building when it wasn’t cold outside we sometimes had to house animals in cages in the garage –that’s how full we were. There’s far more space now and it’s more civilized in here for staff, volunteers and especially the animals. This building allows us to provide better care for the animals.”
Claire has spent all her volunteer time in Animal Intake and loves it. “The staff and my fellow volunteers are interesting, engaging and fun to work with,” she explained. “The variety of animals I have to deal with makes it always interesting. And this place is busy, but I like to be busy.”
Claire said there’s not an opportunity to cuddle animals in Intake because the animals are scared, but that presents a learning opportunity. “But there’s a real skill in learning to deal with animals that are terrified, so I get to work with the staff and I get to learn all that, too.”
Claire’s hard work and dedication is appreciated by staff in Animal Intake. “Claire is an integral part of our Intake team and is our longest-term volunteer,” said Assistant Manager Audrey Barnabe.
“Claire is reliable and professional, always knows what to do and makes a huge impact on our daily workload. She is one of our first mentors and has been doing a fantastic job training our new Animal Intake volunteers!”
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!