Want wags? Walk dogs

Brianne Fleming, Staff Writer

Just like people enjoy their quality time at the gym, dogs without homes at surrounding humane societies enjoy being walked by volunteers.

Jeannine Gailey, Cambria County Humane Society director, described volunteer dog walkers as an important part of the shelter.

“We depend a lot on volunteers,” said Gailey. “They are a vital part of the humane society, and we are always looking for them.”

Gailey also said that college students are some of the shelter’s best volunteers.

“They are young, positive, energetic and have class breaks for just an hour or two and can be a big help with walking the dogs.”

The staff tries to have the dogs walked each day around the shelter and into nearby woods. The walkers can work as early as 11:30 a.m., Tuesdays through Sundays until the shelter closes at 5 p.m.

The shelter staff requires that there are two walkers at a time for safety reasons.

“Dog-walking volunteers should be friendly, energetic and  animal lovers,” said Gailey.

Surrounding animal shelters, such as The Humane societies in Somerset and Westmoreland counties, train and pay some of their dog walkers.

They require that the volunteers and workers be at least 18 or older with an ability to handle energetic dogs.

Mary Anslinger, Central Pennsylvania Humane Society director in Altoona, said that new volunteers consider taking their intermediate or advanced dog walking training classes.

“It helps them adjust to handling certain types of dogs and their personalities,” said Anslinger.

Anslinger also said that the exercise helps benefit the dog’s physical and mental stimulation, along with their social skills.

“Dog walking helps make the dogs more used to people and adoptable,” said Anslinger. “It’s rewarding for the volunteer because they get to interact with the dog, but also, help get them adopted.”

Westmoreland County Humane Society’s administrative assistant of the Humane Society Jessica Zerebnick, said that their dogs are walked daily or taken to a dog park.

Like the dogs, Zerebnick said she thought walkers benefited, also.

“Walking the dogs is rewarding because you get to spend time with them, give them needed exercise and it can be fun.”

Each shelter staff made it clear that exercise is vital for the dogs, and that it is the most exciting part of a dog’s day.