BY MARY WICOFF
Colleen Daniels is in kitty heaven every time she steps through the doors at the Citizens for Animal Rescue and Adoption shelter.
She loves petting and feeding all of the cats, and in return, they love all of the attention.
The 14-year-old is one of the youngest volunteers at the no-kill facility in Tilton.
“I love cats,” she said. “I like spending time here.” She knows the names of most of the cats, and tidbits about their personalities.
Connie Ferrar, director of CARA, is pleased with the teenager’s work. “She has shown herself to be very capable and diligent,” she said. “She’s dependable — it’s really a remarkable thing.”
Colleen is eager to work with the animals, Ferrar said, and isn’t afraid to tackle any task.
“We’re delighted to have Colleen here. She’s a wonderful, caring individual,” she added.
Most volunteers are older, but Ferrar will make exceptions for younger ones who volunteer with a parent and show they’re responsible.
Colleen said she became aware of CARA a couple of years ago, and started volunteering with her mother and sister. After that, she was hooked, and now volunteers at least once a week for five to seven hours. She always works on Sundays, “and any extra days my mom will let me,” she said.
What she likes about CARA is that it’s a no-kill facility; she wouldn’t volunteer at a place that wasn’t.
She doesn’t mind the work — cleaning out cages and feeding the cats. She especially likes cleaning out the free-roam rooms, where several cats wander around. The cats will rub against her legs and purr; when she stoops down to clean out litter boxes, they’ll try to get in her lap.
“I like to do those rooms,” she said. As for sidestepping all of the curious kitties, she added, “It’s easier than you’d think.”
At home, she takes care of several cats and two Labrador retrievers.
She’s home schooled and likes to play softball.
Colleen hopes to become a veterinary technician and would like to operate an animal shelter some day.
She’s passionate about spreading the word about CARA and reminding people how important it is to spay and neuter their pets. Seeing all the dogs and cats at the no-kill shelter, she understands the importance of preventing the problem in the first place.
She’s written three letters to the Commercial-News, urging people to be responsible pet owners.
Colleen encourages other people to become volunteers to help local animals. “I’m always happy to see volunteers come here,” she said. “It’s always nice to see people who want to work with the animals.”
Besides helping the animals, she said, volunteering is fun.
“It’s fun to be around the cats and play with them and take care of them.”
Ferrar said CARA has about 30 volunteers, but can always use more. Volunteers are needed to help give animals daily care, walk the dogs at least twice a day, and also to help out at adoption events outside of the facility. More animals can be taken to adoption sites if there are more volunteers to help, she said.
“There are a lot of things going on that people can help at,” she said.
Also, CARA offers a low-cost spay/neuter program once a week and low-cost vaccines on the second Saturday of every month. People are asked to register in advance for those programs.
Besides people’s time, the facility can always use donations of food, supplies and money.
Colleen is a good example of a teenager who’s not wasting her summer; instead, she’s getting valuable experience and the animals are getting great care. Maybe other teens will want to follow her example, and volunteer their time, as well.
For more information about CARA’s programs or to become a volunteer, visit its website at http://www.caraillinois.com or go to its Facebook page. You also may call 799-8858 or 655-4353.
The Pets column runs every four weeks. If you would like to have your pet featured, contact Mary Wicoff at 477-5161, send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or write to Commercial-News, 17 W. North, Danville, IL 61832.