Aiding Animals: Director explains purpose of local animal shelter; BV student finds solace in volunteering

Chloe Breau, Photographer

Those who have pets know just how important they are to our lives. They provide us with the unconditional love and companionship we can’t always find elsewhere, no matter how many times we forget to let them outside.

Every year, according to the ASPCA website, 7.6 million companion animals enter different shelters around the country looking for a home.

Wayside Waifs is one of these many shelters.

Located in Grandview, Missouri, Wayside relies heavily on volunteers to keep the facility up and running.

Sophomore Sydney Kitt helps out at Wayside every Tuesday from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.

“I have been volunteering for about a year since June,” Kitt said. “It’s a great non-profit organization, and I think the people and the animals greatly benefit from it.”

Director of Animal Welfare Sarah Little adopted two dogs, Jenny and Bruno, from Wayside Waifs and has fostered many others since her first day working there seven years ago.

“Our mission is to educate the public about responsible pet ownership,” Little said. “We have our Humane Education Program where we go out to the schools, and we talk to younger students about how to take care of a pet.”

Wayside also hosts many fundraisers and events.

“We have ‘Strut With Your Mutt,’ which is one of our biggest fundraisers,” Little said. “We also have Homecoming for our Wayside Waifs [canine] alumni. We have a dog park, so our alums can use the dog park for free for that day. It’s just kind of a fun thing for people to get together.”

Kitt said volunteering with the animals helps them become more adoptable.

“I volunteer at Wayside because I have an interest in dogs,” Kitt said. “They are very playful, and they love to be around people.”

Currently, Wayside has about 1,400 regular volunteers who help by doing anything from socializing and training the animals to fostering them.

Kitt said she becomes emotionally attached to the animals at the shelter.

“There was this really cute dog named Claire,” Kitt said. “She’s a miniature poodle, and she had a bow in her hair. She was gray, and she was probably about five pounds. She was really cute.”

Little said volunteering with Wayside Waifs benefits those involved.

“My biggest personal connection is [to the animals],” Little said. “I don’t know how you cannot become attached to them. It’s a job that I enjoy getting up every day and coming to.”