On June 1, 2012 it will be 10 years since I started at Pet Project. I have seen many cats and dogs come and go. When I hear some of the stories of how the animals cam to the shelter I am very sad for what they had to go through. But they respond quickly to the love and care they get at the shelter until they are able to be placed in a new home. It is scary to think what would happen to these animals without Pet Project. Many people say they couldn’t do this because they would want to take all of the animals home. True I do want to take them all home – but I know that I can’t so I do what I can for them. I go home feeling good that they got a walk and some attention. Believe me they appreciate it! This is a great way to get your exercise along with a little puppy love.

– Marilyn Alexander

I moved to Ottawa in 1997.  I quickly learned about a local shelter in Grand Ridge called Pet Project.  Since I always like to support “local” shelters, I began by donating money at Christmas and donating items.  I felt as if my heart would be broken every day if I actually did any hands on volunteering. I did not think I would be able to handle it emotionally.  I started taking some photographs of the animals for a favor for a previous board member to put up on Petfinder.  Started out slow, my husband calls it “mission creep”, and then when I saw how much it helped to have great pictures on Petfinder to draw people in to adopt these amazing cats and dogs, I wanted to get photos of EVERY dog or cat that came through and right away.  I knew the sooner I could get them up on line, the sooner they may be adopted.  Then I realized I had a video feature on my camera and began taking videos.  We got really good feedback from the videos, so I continue to do them for every cat or dog and I really enjoy it.

Of course now I had a chance to interact with all the cats and dogs and got to see what a safe haven Pet Project was for these animals, it became easier and easier to visit the shelter.  I had always pictured shelters to be dark, scary places where animals looked sick and pitiful.  Pet Project is not like that.  The dogs have large indoor/outdoor kennels with comfy beds in them. They also get to go outside in a fenced in area where they can run and just be a dog.  There are also WONDERFUL dog walkers that volunteer that constantly walk them. The cats are able to be loose in the cat room and there are people that volunteer to visit with them and give them the love they need. They have shelves, beds, cat condos and lots of places to nap or just hang out.

Now I enjoy helping out with the adoption events as much as I can, too.  There are some behind the scenes type of things that I do, like call or email people that have adopted pets to see how their pet is adjusting to their new home and help monitoring the Facebook page and email.  So you see there are many, many ways anyone can help and volunteer for Pet Project.  And I would like to say to anyone who is reluctant to volunteer at a shelter, it is the most rewarding experience and to know you helped a dog or cat in some way makes it all worth it.  It is also fun to hang out with people that love animals as much as I do.  I have to say I am so happy I got talked into volunteering at Pet Project!!

– Janice Wolfe

 My first visit to Pet Project was in January of 2010.  My sister and nephew had been volunteering there for several weeks, and I decided to join them.  I had recently lost my beloved cat of over 10 years, so it was an emotional experience for me.  I knew I wanted to adopt another “baby”, but I wasn’t certain I was ready.  Well, one kitty in particular made that decision for me.  After I had finished the necessary cleaning in the cat room, I sat down and let myself be surrounded.  So many wonderful kitties came up demanding my attention, giving as much love as they were getting in return.  One small black cat overtook my lap and wouldn’t budge.  I wanted to stand up, but he was having none of it.  He gripped my jeans, then climbed up my chest, around my shoulders…he was determined not to let me let him go.  While he was perched on my shoulder, I said to my sister “Yeah, I guess this is the one!”  Known as Jethro while he was at PPI, Wrigley has now become my constant companion and is such a gentle, sweet cat.

Since that time, I have become a passionate supporter of PPI.  They are a wonderful organization, with a staff of amazing volunteers all sharing the same goal: to give these animals a second chance at being part of a family.  Since I live in Joliet, I’m unable to be at the shelter as much as I would like, but I visit when my schedule permits.  It’s such a loving place, and I enjoy giving the animals some much deserved love and attention.  Additionally, I help out with answering email and administrating the Facebook and Twitter pages.  I wish I could do more.

Being somewhat of an “insider”, I’m also aware of some of the heartbreaking stories behind our residents.  These innocent animals deserve every second chance we can give them.

– Joyce McCollum

We treat our volunteers right at Pet Project Inc! 3 squares a day, tidy living quarters, and LOTS of nice friends!