Editor’s note: Today marks the beginning of the “Animal Chronicles” column, which will appear every other Sunday in The Daily Gazette. Content is provided by the Animal Protective Foundation in Glenville.
By Joe Lisella
GLENVILLE – Mrs. Jesse Carpenter and a group of fellow animal-loving volunteers incorporated the Animal Protective Foundation (APF) of Schenectady 90 years ago with the goal of providing care and protection to domestic animals.
As we celebrate National Volunteer Appreciation Week (April 17-23), it seems fitting to honor our volunteers, past and present, in the premiere installment of this weekly column.
With humble beginnings in a garage on Balltown Road, APF grew quickly in its first two years, leading to moves to the Bellevue area, then Scotia and finally, Rotterdam. Those first volunteers, equipped with 20 dog kennels and several cat enclosures, cared for animals at the Rotterdam location until 1949.
In December of that year, after public appeal and several fundraisers coordinated by volunteers, a new shelter opened on Old Alplaus Road (our present location on what is now Maple Avenue).
Our current shelter, dedicated in 1993, was also built through the work of dedicated volunteers, and nearly 30 years later, our volunteers continue to be the lifeblood of the APF.
“More than 200 active volunteers make all of our work possible,” said volunteer manager Hannah Deraway. “Volunteers are involved in every aspect of our organization.”
Animals require care 365 days a year, so animal care volunteers are essential in keeping the animals safe from disease through daily cleaning and disinfecting. They also assist with feeding, exercising, socializing and enrichment. This ensures that all the animals know they are safe and loved during a very stressful time in their lives.
In addition to our on-site volunteers, dozens of families in the area foster APF animals in their own homes.
“As hard as we try to make the animals comfortable in the shelter, sometimes there is no substitute for a home,” said Stephanie Johnson, director of operations. “Whether a dog with newborn puppies, a cat recovering from surgery, or a pet who needs a weekend away from the stresses of the shelter, our foster volunteers are essential to the well-being of the animals.”
“Every time I visit the shelter I am amazed at the dedication of the volunteers,” said retired General Electric chemist Otto Zamek, who volunteers him time as board president. “Whether they are helping the animals directly, keeping the food pantry organized, preparing surgical packs in the clinic, helping with administrative tasks or greeting visitors, they always wear a smile and put the animals first.”
Finally, one of the most important groups of our volunteers are those who offer financial support to the APF.
With only about 10% of our funding coming from our shelter fees, their generosity is invaluable in helping hundreds of animals find new homes each year.
On behalf of all of the animals and the people who love them, thank you volunteers for 90 years of inspiration.
If you are interested in volunteering, contact the APF at 518-374-3944 or [email protected]
Joe Lisella is executive director at the Animal Protective Foundation, which contributes Animal Chronicles columns and welcomes animal-related questions and stories about the people and animals in our community. Visit animalprotective.org and follow on social media @AnimalProtectiveFoundation, or email [email protected]