Greetings Volunteers,

In non-pandemic years, we would be celebrating our Milestone Anniversary Volunteers at our annual Volunteer Appreciation party. Well, since we can’t gather together, we want to share a little about each of the 2020 Milestone Volunteers, how they became involved at Marin Humane, and what keeps them going. Three cheers and huge congratulations to these amazing volunteers!!

Betsy McGee – 35 years: Betsy came to Marin Humane in 1985. Her first job was Adoption Counselor. Betsy remembers it was much more difficult to adopt then – a 4-page form for adopters, calling landlords, doing fence checks and turning people down. How things have changed in 35 years!

In 1986 Betsy was invited to be a Dog Training Assistant, an “invitation only” volunteer role. While working in Behavior & Training has been Betsy’s primary volunteer area over the decades, she has filled a variety of other positions over the years, including: Spay/Neuter clinic reception, Santa Photos coordinator, and Animal Care assistant. At that time, in the 1990’s, she proposed we develop a full-blown volunteer program to help take the load off the Animal Care Techs. 

Betsy has led tours at Marin Humane, worked in MarCom manually posting adoption animals on outside websites, given Summer Camp talks on greyhound racing, garden pollinators and Antarctica wildlife, and volunteered with the Pet Partnership program. She was also a committee member of the Marin Humane Strategic Implementation team and served on the Facilities Master Planning team. 

Currently in Behavior and Training, Betsy is a volunteer dog training instructor and Dog Training Assistant. Pre-COVID, Betsy also served on dog and cat evaluation teams, worked in the Behavior office and coordinated the Senior Consultations program. Betsy says, “Volunteering at Marin Humane has provided me with a wonderful opportunity to help people develop and maintain a positive relationship with their animal companions. The organization has also been my ‘home away from home’ – a special community of passionate and committed people, many of whom have become close friends.” 

Joyce Johnston – 30 years: Joyce joined the ranks of Marin Humane volunteers in March of 1990. Joyce said she always loved dogs, always had a dog growing up in England, and when she came to Marin a stray dog adopted HER! When that dog crossed the rainbow bridge, she knew she needed to be around other dogs. Her primary job at Marin Humane has been Dog Pet Pal. She remembers when the adoption dogs were all walked with a choke chain collar – no harnesses or martingales in those days! Although she has dabbled in a couple of other areas, being a Dog Pet Pal has been her main joy. Over the years she has adopted several dogs from Marin Humane and at present she has two mini dachshunds and a Chihuahua/Terrier mix. 

Janine Dowsett – 25 years: Janine tells us, “In the fall of 1994 I suddenly lost my two beloved cats. As I was going out of town for the holidays I decided to wait until the New Year to find some new kitty companions. In January of 1995 I decided to look at Marin Humane for a couple of kittens. The volunteer showed me a couple of older kittens that kept getting overlooked. One kitten was an adoption return as he was too rough with the children in his first home and a second smaller extremely shy kitten that was hiding in the back corner of her cage. I sat with each of the kittens for a few minutes and decided to bring them home. Looking back, this seemed like an unlikely pair of kittens to match-up but the two bonded immediately and were best friends for a lot of years.” 

“I attended a volunteer orientation in February of 1995 in the hopes of becoming a Cat Pet Pal. At the time, there were no openings for new volunteers in that area but Adoption Counselors were needed. I gave that a try and, 25 years later I am still in that position. I have loved every minute! There have been many unforgettable moments during my career at Marin Humane. I have loved seeing adopters walk out of the shelter with an animal I helped them to adopt, especially if it was an animal that had been at the shelter for a long time.” 

“The most unforgettable moments for me occurred when I decided to adopt two beautiful senior cats from the shelter. Star in December of 2018 and Molly in December 2019! I think the things that have kept me committed and inspired all these years are the animals. I am continually surprised by how resilient the animals are, and if given time and treated in a loving manner, become wonderful companions for adopters. It is also really great to see and hear from adopters about how well our animal alumni are doing. The other thing that has continued to keep me inspired is the Marin Humane’s commitment to the animals in improving things for them.” 

RoseAnne Stoke – 25 years: A couple of months after retiring from PacBell, RoseAnne decided to check out volunteering at Marin Humane to walk dogs. Her family always had dogs and, at the age of 8 years old, her mom got RoseAnne her very first dog. Since dogs have always been in her life, she felt like this was her calling.

She remembers that first summer she was a volunteer, she helped with summer camp. The 7-years olds were called the Chihuahuas! A year later, she met Gloria Kosack who was also a Dog Pet Pal. At the time there were only 4 dog pet pals on Mondays – two in the morning and two in the afternoon. Sometimes they had as many as 15 dogs to get out and they managed to get them all out! They became a dynamic duo, cleaning kennels, helping in the clinic, cleaning cat cages, helping at Canine Games, even helped with the Sunday vaccination clinics. Gloria and RoseAnne also became “volunteers of the year in 1996.”

RoseAnne has also delivered Christmas gifts for SHARE (the Pet Care Assistance program). Interestingly, RoseAnne was a mentor for Emma Clifford, Larry Carson and Keri Fennell among others! RoseAnne says “I have met so many friends over the years. Some of the friends are no longer with us and I miss them. They made me stay as a volunteer.”

Jody Wheeler25 years: 25 years ago, while attending an air show at Hamilton AFB, Jody stopped by a booth set up by Marin Humane. They were recruiting new volunteers. Jody signed up for and went through an orientation and began working at the shelter doing office jobs. A year or so later, Jody happened to stop by the Marin Humane Thrift Shop in San Anselmo. She mentioned to the folks there that she was volunteering at the shelter and interested in volunteering at the Shop. Little did she know that, at that moment, her life was going to change. 

Jody is the Auxiliary President and oversees the running of the Thrift Shop. Jody says, “What I like the most is making money to support the Marin Humane veterinary clinic and making so many new friends with the Auxiliary volunteers. We have such a good time at the Shop working together – we are a very close group of volunteers. We really enjoy our social times together at the June meeting and our Holiday lunches, and enjoy laughs over some of the donations, wondering ‘what in the world is that thing!’ We are all dedicated to helping our shelter.” 

Jody has adopted two senior cats from Marin Humane. Sadly, neither of them is still with her but soon another will be in her home. Jody is a senior cat advocate and says, “They are a real gift. They have their ways and you will learn them. One of mine would come to me in any room and MEOW, which meant, ‘follow me to a chair in the living room so I can sit on your lap!’ I am so happy to be part of our great organization.” 

Bonnie Keenan – 20 years: Bonnie recounts, “As I was nearing retirement I thought about what I’d like to do in a volunteer capacity. Because of my love of animals and previously adopting a beautiful Rough Coated Collie at Marin Humane several years before, I looked into volunteer positions at Marin Humane. I attended a volunteer orientation and became a Dog Pet Pal. I am still a Dog Pet Pal, although now I have “downsized” to working with smaller dogs.”

“I would say the most unforgettable moment is one Monday morning in June 2008, there was a little 4-month old puppy up for adoption that had not yet been taken out for a walk. It had been several months since we had lost our wonderful Collie. My husband and I both told each other “no puppy,” just a reasonably mature dog. Well, that didn’t happen! I took this puppy out for a walk and she’s been an important part of our family ever since! What keeps me inspired as a volunteer is my love of animals and knowing that the dogs I spend time with will all find their forever homes.

Dorothy Libby – 20 years: Dorothy Libby has loved cats since she was a young girl. So, it made perfect sense for Dorothy to look into volunteering at Marin Humane just after moving to Novato. She attended a volunteer orientation and after several weeks was notified that there was an opening for her as a Cat Pet Pal. After working with the adoption cats for a few years, she was invited to work with the cats in the areas behind the scenes where they were being evaluated for adoption. That is where she felt the most useful and where she volunteered for many years. An unforgettable moment for her was when she was working with a very frightened and shy cat in the Treatment Room. He wouldn’t move out of the corner of the cage. Dorothy, being of a small stature, decided to get into the cage with the cat and just sit. After a few visits, the cat slowly walked over to her and wrapped his front legs around her! That became Dorothy’s specialty – sitting in the cages with the cats. When asked what keeps her inspired and committed, she replied, “Seeing the cats get adopted – many of the adoptions are matches made in heaven.” She has always enjoyed interactions with staff and also loves all of the imaginative ideas for how we work with people who have disabilities.