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“Why I TAP” – Heartfelt Volunteer Stories That Will Inspire You to Make a Difference

: Christie Roening, for TAP

Volunteers are the backbone of organizations such as ours because they contribute unique skill sets, compassion, and a genuine longing to help. The TAP community is so grateful to have individuals who choose to donate their time with the end goal of rescuing the pups. Each story of success, we owe to our volunteers. Whether mopping floors, transporting dogs, assisting with adoption and foster programs, comforting a lonely pup, managing social media, or volunteering at events, each and every person is appreciated! Sometimes it’s draining, messy, physically demanding, and just plain sad. But the results are much more rewarding! Meeting new friends, giving back to your community, and of course, helping those precious pups make the hard work sooo worth it. We couldn’t exist without our volunteers!

We reached out to our TAP family to ask what encouraged them to join our team. The feedback was phenomenal, heartwarming, and beautiful. Read on for a few accounts. It’s ok to let the tears flow!

Amanda Chippendale’s story:

I was in a really dark place. My job sucked and I was just angry all the time it felt. It would be so draining, I had zero motivation to do anything after work or even on the weekends. I knew I needed to do something. I am a crazy dog person and I didn’t have a lot of people around me on the same crazy dog person level. I needed dog people! I thought volunteering could be the solution to pull me out of this dark hole. I am also pretty shy at first too, so I was always too scared to do something like this on my own. Fortunately, I had a friend who was interested too. We were looking up different organizations; I wanted to avoid humane society and look at a different kind of rescue; then I found The Animal Pad.

We signed up and went to our “training” shift. I’ve been volunteering for about 7-8 months now and I still think that orientation shift was the craziest one yet. It was pouring rain, I mean pouring, and 2 people no showed (which never happens – I believe there was confusion with the scheduling). Jenna Ryan was the only one there. She posted in Sling that she needed help and within 20 mins another volunteer came and even Jenna’s husband. I didn’t know what to expect but I was blown away by the dedication of our volunteers, rain or shine.

I made a promise to myself that no matter what, Saturday’s were dog days. No matter how crummy I felt or how much I wanted to sleep in, I went. And have been going almost every Saturday morning since then. I’ve never had the urge to cancel a shift or not go. I get excited every time I go.

I have learned so much about the rescue business and dogs and behavior, I love it. I love volunteering at the kennels and I love the people at TAP.

TAP was the light I needed in my life. Since volunteering with them, I have found my purpose. A place to funnel my passion.

At first, it was(and still is) hard to see some of the conditions the dogs are in, but the most rewarding thing is seeing their transformation. From skinny, missing fur, scared babies to loving, playful dog; it’s…I don’t even know how to describe it. It makes my heart want to burst.

I started with the brunch crew and with Billie. Billie is so special. She had every right to distrust humans, but she didn’t. She loved us and loved all the attention we gave her. No matter what meds we were trying to give her, her tail would wag and she would just look at us so adoringly; she knew we wanted to help.

The look that Billie would give us is what hooked me. The TAP family is what keeps me going. I’ve made incredible, life long friends and will forever be grateful. So happy that the decisions that everyone has made in life has driven us to here, to TAP.

Corina Asher’s story:

After so many months of scrolling through FB and seeing all of the sad and depressing posts of so many abandoned and abused souls that exist in this world, I finally scrolled past a post that inspired me from a friend that I used to work with. The post was about how she was helping out rescue dogs from Mexico and how the rescue could use more hands to help these sweet pups reform and find better lives. I was touched and inspired but still nervous for some reason to commit to helping. I sent Erica Jacobs a text to get a little more info about what she was doing. She immediately responded back and let me know that I was welcome to join her at her kennel shift that same day to see what it was all about. I told her I would try but for some reason I still had doubts in my mind about whether this was right for me. Luckily I was able to swallow those doubts and I joined her and her boyfriend, Julian at the kennels for the evening shift. My life has never been the same. Finally, I had found a reason and a purpose! Seeing these amazing and broken souls transform before our very eyes into the happy, energetic personalities that they always should have been in just the short time they are at the kennels is just indescribable! You can see the gratefulness in their eyes! There is nothing better in this world! Nothing. The group of people that consist of our TAP Tribe are beyond amazing and the way our tribe comes together to help these pups is just inspiring. I feel beyond lucky to be part of this amazing group and am so thankful every day to have found you all!

Second story, I was still a fairly new volunteer at the kennels and so in love with every single dog we brought in…and then there was Pop. A sweet little baby who was paralyzed at a very young age and never properly treated. Well he came to us and he needed someone to take him to the vet to look at his condition. Me and my boyfriend Philip volunteered to take him. The vet he had the appointment with had to cancel due to illness, but our amazing team was able to quickly find an emergency vet that was open and able to take him in that same day. We sat waiting with Pop for a while before they could see him. Sweet, sweet Pop. A puppy by all means with absolutely no idea that his back legs didn’t work and no worries about it at all. All he wanted to do is be a puppy. The vet finally saw him and then they finally saw us. She told us that Pop would never recover from his injury, that he would have to have wheels to get around and that his quality of life would never be great. She suggested that we put Pop to sleep to save the rescue the costly expenses of dealing with a special needs pup. I was beyond devastated! I was straight up ugly crying! Being new volunteers, this was obviously not our decision to make and not one I could have ever said yes to so we had her call up the amazing Lauren and I know now that I never had any reason to get so upset to begin with. There was no way that The Animal Pad would put down sweet Pop just because he might be inconvenient or expensive. That didn’t matter. Pop mattered and Pop was perfectly happy being who he already was. That was the day I fully realized that this group feels exactly how I do about animals. This group was my family. This is why I TAP!

Jenna Ryan’s story:

When I started volunteering with TAP, I purposefully looked for indirect service roles because I figured if I interacted with the dogs I’d want to take them all home with me. I went to a meeting that just so happened to be at the kennels, and it turned into an impromptu kennel orientation. This was probably March/April 2019, and I’ve been volunteering at the kennels since and can’t remember what life was like before finding TAP. I’ve interacted with hundreds (if not 1,000!) TAP dogs now, most of whom have never been shown love from humans let alone ever lived in a home before. I cannot begin to describe how lucky all of these dogs know they are once they arrive, being loved on and fed consistently for the first time. Their transformations even over the 10 day quarantine period are insane. Some of the sweetest, most gentle, friendly, social, and perfect dogs I’ve ever met were once unloved street dogs, eating trash to survive. How crazy is that?! These dogs have taught me what resilience looks like. As heartbreaking as it’s been to see, it’s also been the most rewarding work I’ve done.

I struggled at first because I knew I couldn’t take any of the pups home with me (I rent and already have 2 large dogs), but working more with other kennel volunteers and fosters made me realize that even though I couldn’t take these dogs home to spoil, there were so many wonderful people opening their homes up to give these dogs the TLC each and every one of them deserves.

Life has its ups and downs, and TAP has made me appreciate what I have more than ever. I can’t wait to one day be able to foster (and adopt) some of these amazing dogs. I’ll continue to support TAP and it’s mission as long as it exists because this is truly the most organized, thoughtful, kickass non-profit I’ve ever been involved with! No matter what role you start in or move into with TAP, you’re sure to find like-minded volunteers that dedicate themselves to making the world better for these dogs one day at a time.

Thank you, Amanda, Corina, and Jenna for sharing your inspiring stories. Thank you to all of our volunteers for your dedication and hard work!

You can be a part of this amazing group of volunteers as well. To apply, go to THIS LINK and get ready to open your hearts to a whole bunch of puppy love!