Meet our volunteers

Our army of volunteers is supported by a Volunteer Advisory Committee (VAC). The VAC work in collaboration with the Volunteer Coordinator to improve the volunteering experience at Lort Smith. They provide advice and feedback in relation to the volunteer program in a forum where the views of the volunteers can be expressed. The VAC consists of volunteers from a range of different roles and meets bimonthly at Lort Smith.

A very special Lort Smith foster carer, Maggie typically fosters dogs requiring strict cage confinement after they have had a fracture or patella repair. Maggie has a dog crate permanently set up in her lounge room – as soon as one foster dog leaves for adoption, she is ready to take on another needing care. Maggie is incredibly dedicated and performs physiotherapy and rehabilitation exercises on the dogs – this helps them to heal faster and make a full recovery.

Maggie has fostered over 40 dogs in her 10 years of being a volunteer foster carer.

Sabrina is a university student majoring in Production Animal Health at the University of Melbourne. She has been volunteering in our Adoption Centre since February 2017.

‘I arrive at 8am, check what dogs are available and then assist with the morning Adoption Hub clean up. Once completed, I help the back-of-house kennel staff with taking the dogs out for a walk before they are placed in the Adoption Hub for the day. My shift normally consists of providing treats and enrichment for the dogs in the Hub, and giving them constant tummy rubs and massages!

‘I enjoy having the opportunity to interact with various cats and dogs with different personalities. There is a sense of accomplishment seeing the animals come out of their shell, and to see them adopted by a loving family.

‘All the staff and volunteers are exceptional at Lort Smith. I recall making my first DIY enrichment pom poms for the cattery. And I will never forget naughty shoe-stealing Marley, the golden retriever – I had a very hard time leaving his yard without losing my shoes!

Jo commenced volunteering for Lort Smith in 2014 with her gorgeous dog Mia as part of our Pet Therapy program. Together they have been providing comfort and support to patients, families and staff at the Royal Children’s Hospital.

Jo also volunteers in the Adoption Centre, the laundry and as a Pet Therapy mentor.

‘I feel privileged being involved with Lort Smith’s programs as the experiences I have had over the years have been extremely heart-warming. I have met so many amazing people who come from very different backgrounds. Some have had a lot of adversity in their lives so it is extremely humbling to contribute happiness, a smile and some laughter to make their days a little easier.

‘I’d say my favourite times would be meeting people and animals where you feel you have had a positive impact in their lives one way or another.’

I’ve been volunteering at Lort Smith for over eight years, usually in the Front of House cattery, but I also enjoy the kennels and occasional laundry shift. My average shift starts off around 8am in the Hub. I ask the staff what they would like me to do, which is usually some cage cleaning, then it’s time to sweep, mop, wash the litter trays and food bowls, and top up the litter bin. After that is finished, it’s time to play with the cats and dogs! After a break I like to visit the kennels and maybe walk any dogs that need an outing.

I have made some special friendships with people I have met at Lort Smith, and I like to think that I am helping the staff and animals in some small way. Hearing the stories of successful adoptions is wonderful, too – and I have one of my own! I adopted my eight-year-old Spanador, Lollie, from Lort Smith. She was only eight months old when I met her, and it was such a special moment, seeing her for the first time and falling in love with her adorable face! I named her Lollie as she was soft and sweet and squishy like a lollie.

At home I also have four chickens, all named after notable Dames – Edna, Elizabeth, Vera and Judy, as well as some tropical fish and some outside pond fish. I have always had dogs, and when my children were growing up we had rats, mice, guinea pigs, rabbits, fish, a turtle, an axolotyl, and son Tristan started his reptile collection with the snake, lizards and frogs when he was still living at home.

When I’m not volunteering at Lort Smith, I do one shift a week at Fareshare, which is a food rescue organisation. I’m also part of a worldwide organisation called ‘The Granny Cloud’ that involves regular weekly Skype sessions with Indian school children to help them with their English and computer skills. One day I would love to meet them in person!

I enjoy spending time with my family, especially my two little granddaughters, love catching up with friends, movies, reading, and travelling. My next trip is to Africa in May!

I’m a Senior Cattery Volunteer – usually in the Hub. I’ve been volunteering at Lort Smith for over four-and-a-half years. Spending time with the animals and seeing the shy ones ‘come out of their shells’ is the best part. The staff and other volunteers are always an absolute delight to work with too. I’m also a big fan of Lort Smith’s Emergency Welfare Assistance program, and the founding principle of providing excellent vetcare regardless of personal circumstances.

I do the morning shift at the Hub, so when I arrive it’s usually straight to saying hello to the cats (and rabbits, if around), cleaning enclosures and doling out breakfast. Then I sweep and mop before the morning meeting, after which it’s time for the dishes. If I’m lucky, then I move onto cat TLC (maybe a quick cuddle of the dogs too), enrichment and assorted tasks assigned by Mandy, a Senior Animal Welfare Officer. If the Hub is full of visitors, I’ll also greet and take them through to the cat rooms.

I think one of my favourite experiences at Lort Smith was with an eight-month-old black-and-white kitten called Midori, who spent what seemed like weeks waiting to be adopted. He was cute as a button but would always bite when we’d hang out with him. Gradually, though, as he got used to people and a taste for pats, you could get away with only one bite (followed quickly by a lick)! He also loved the cat tunnels too.

At home I have an 11-year-old British shorthair called Levon. I adopted him six years ago and he is the light of my life. His hobbies include eating cat grass, watching the sun set and terrorising my partner. He has endless patience for cuddles and zero tolerance for closed doors. He is also a loud and effective alarm clock in the mornings (breakfast time).

When not at Lort Smith I’m either at work, hanging out with Levon or begging friends to go to karaoke.

I’ve been volunteering at Lort Smith for about 18 months, and started in the laundry. Now I’m in Front of House kennels. When I arrive at my shift the first thing I do is have a look around the kennels to see the dogs that we have and plan the walks. We fit in one walk before the staff meeting and a few after. I also give the resident dogs some TLC when we aren’t taking them out. Other than that, I clean kennels or wash dishes.

I love interacting with the dogs and learning about their different personalities. Some are super affectionate, others just want to go out for a walk, some love toys – others don’t know what to do with them. Seeing how far they come along with a little bit of training and a whole lot of love and then go on to find their forever homes makes me really happy.

A few weeks ago I was sitting in the Adoption Hub with one-eyed Mambo in my lap for about half an hour. He dozed off after that. When I found out that he got adopted the day after, I felt pure joy.

At home I have a five-year-old Labrador called Bailey who is the centre of my Universe. He is very energetic, super affectionate and gives me lots of joy and endless entertainment.

Apart from work and volunteering at Lort Smith, I love trying out different cuisines (I am a huge foodie) and looking up recipes and cooking healthy food for Bailey (treats and meals). When I get a chance I like long walks and taking short trips to beach towns on the coast with my husband and Bailey in tow.

I started at Lort Smith in September of last year, and I volunteer in the laundry, as well as Back of House cattery.

When I first start my shift I check who needs what as I walk down from the lockers to the laundry. I then make sure all the machines are on before loading up the towels and I start delivering.

If I’m working in Back of House cattery I stick my head in to see who is new, then it’s cleaning of kitty trays, bowls and toys along with general cleaning and helping staff when needed. Then comes the pleasure of spending time with the gorgeous kittens and cats. Thankfully one of the volunteers I work with reminds me not to be to bring any more cats back home with me, as instructed by my husband!

At home we have a few fur babies – an 11-year-old whippet called Zeb, a senior fluffy cat called Cheeky, a one-year-old cat called Mittens, and three fish, who all belong to me!

The best thing about volunteering at Lort Smith is to see the length that the staff and volunteers go to in ensuring an animal’s welfare, whether they are big or small, old or new, and the care they are given. Not to forget holding a purring kitten in your arms has its moments! I especially love to hear about the animals who have been up for adoption for a long time find a well-deserved home.

When I’m not volunteering with Lort Smith I enjoy reading, walking with my dog, practising qigong, going to the beach, and seeing family and friends.

I currently volunteer in Back of House kennels, but have also worked in the laundry since I began volunteering at Lort Smith around six months ago.

My duties tend to be walking the dogs that can go out, cleaning the day yards when required, the used food and water bowls and spending some time with the dogs in their enclosures to hopefully enhance their day.

The best thing about volunteering at Lort Smith is the unity of purpose for all the staff and volunteers to improve the lives and prospects of all the animals. And I think my favourite day was when Anastasia, my then laundry partner, bounded in one time and said she was adopting Tucker. He is a beautiful dog but has physical problems which made it difficult, if not impossible, for him to be rehomed and he was not doing well in the kennel environment. But Tucker is now thriving in his new home with Anastastia!

I just have one animal at home at the moment – Molly the greyhound. I am recently retired from the workforce but enjoy taking care of Molly and, now that it is winter again, following the fortunes of the Richmond Football Club. I also spend some time volunteering at Second Bite.

I’ve been volunteering in the Kennels at Lort Smith for two years now – woof! I also did a one-week work experience placement in 2012.

On an average day I’ll arrive to the sound of excited woofing, as the doggies are always keen for a W.A.L.K. We always make sure the dogs’ rooms are clean and refreshed with towels and water before taking them out for their p-awesome outings. At the park, we like to run the dogs around, engage with them and give them treats when they sit obediently before crossing the roads. Often, we give some of the dogs a bath if they need some sparkling up, and other times I like to sit with them in their rooms to give some TLC.

It makes me proud knowing that I’m part of a wonderful organisation that devotes itself to strengthening the human–animal bond, helping pet carers and providing excellent pet care. I love coming in every week to spend time with the dogs and my fellow vollies. Volunteering at a place like Lort Smith is a big emotional investment, and sometimes there are challenges, but knowing that everyone there is committed to do the best they can for the animals makes it an inspiring place to be.

Every week there is something special to take with me when I finish volunteering – it always puts a smile on my face. Last week, for example, there were six gorgeous Maltese terrier puppies (only two weeks old!) that had found their way into the loving hands of our staff members. And then it’s the moments when some of our stubborn pooches begin to improve their behaviour, show a little more patience, or bound around with a spirited spring in their steps – so wonderful and rewarding to see.

At home my family own a Jack Russell named Toby. I remember selecting him as a young girl, and he is now 12 years old but still full of life. I know carers are biased about their pets, but Toby is seriously one of the sweetest, loveliest and most beautiful doggies we know. He needs a partner, though, and we are hoping to get another girl dog to join the family!

I believe it’s the simple things in life that matter most. I love spending time with my family, watching the football (go Richmond!) going out to brunch, or reading a book by the fire during winter. I also adore an active lifestyle, playing tennis, skiing, yoga, hiking and the like.

I am currently studying a Bachelor of Arts (majoring in History and Anthropology), and thinking about progressing my studies in anthropology of development or public health.