Here at SASF, one of our goals is to help further the community impact of the Seattle Animal Shelter. One of the most important elements of that community impact is the Shelter’s volunteer program—an initiative supported by SASF funding. Periodically, we’ll introduce you to some of the wonderful volunteers at the Shelter. This month we shine the spotlight on Josie Hazen of the 9 Lives team.

 

Tell us what you do at SAS and SASF.

I am on the 9 Lives team. I started as a “matchmaker” when that was the term for volunteers greeting the public and helping them meet cats for adoption. 9 Lives is more comprehensive: It includes cat care, play time, grooming, looking out for health concerns, and making sure that they have fresh water. All of that helps us better know the cats and to advocate for them with potential adopters. I am a shift lead for the Sunday 9 Lives team so I also help with the scheduling for that day, and I liaise with the Animal Care staff.

I also volunteer at the Furry 5K information table and last year I joined the crew in the silent auction rooms at the SASF auction. I spent a brief stint with the mascot team.

How does the work you do help animals find their forever homes?

I market the cats to potential adopters by making sure that they have the yellow sheets of paper for volunteers to write positive comments and observations, and the green information sheets that convey the cat’s needs and likes. Since we have two cat rooms, the kitten wall at the end of the lobby, and the cat condos in the lobby, I move around a lot on my shift—talking with people, refilling water bowls, straightening out bedding, playing with cats and generally doing whatever I can to help both the cats and our fabulous, busy staff.

How did you get involved with SAS?

I read about volunteering in the Seattle Times and attended an orientation in the summer of 2004. A training session with dogs demonstrated that [this] wasn’t my strong suit so I opted for cats as I have decades of cat ownership under my belt. I have volunteered all my adult life and enjoy the hands-on activities best. I am grateful for and impressed with those who plan events, fundraise, do graphics and all the myriad tasks our volunteers do, but at the end of the day I like my 9 Lives shift on Sunday afternoons.

What’s the funniest thing you’ve experienced while volunteering at SAS?

If you haven’t seen the SAS mascots, Fluffy or Fido, you might not know they are full head-to-foot costumes with the heads such that you can’t see much other than straight ahead—they require a handler so that the mascot can avoid tripping or bumping into the children who rush up to hug you. I had better success as a handler but agreed to be Fido at Mascot Day at Emerald Downs a few years ago. The organizers decided to have all the mascots race down the course a bit. That turf is really thick and I felt as though I was wading through molasses. A much younger, more lightly clad mascot sprinted to the finish before I had moved a few feet, so that was my last day in costume. Luckily dog mascots can’t speak, so no one had to know the full extent of my embarrassment.

What’s your favorite part of volunteering at SAS?

My favorite part is of course getting a cat a home when the match seems great—the meet and greet has been successful and the adoption has been well thought out, rather than just an impulse buy.

What have you learned while volunteering?

I have learned a lot about cats from the staff, volunteers and through some great seminars on cat behavior and emergency planning for animals. Potential adopters rely on us to facilitate their happy meetings with cats, and everything I can learn or observe aids in the matchmaking. That is really my favorite part of the day.

 

When not volunteering at SAS, Josie is a travel agent at Lake City Travel. She books corporate and leisure travel and has visited over 30 countries during her long career. She has two lovely Siamese/tabby crosses who rule the roost and help her resist the temptation to bring home any kitties from SAS, even though she finds a new favorite every week. 

SASF is proud to provide support for the Seattle Animal Shelter’s volunteer program. Please join us!