There is often a good reason for someone volunteering for a particular organization. It becomes a passion that is shared with others who have the same interests.
For Terri Nichols of Othello, that passion came about 15 years ago when she helped with a rescue of more than 120 dogs in dire need of saving. The dogs, both young and old, were at a puppy mill in Adams County.
“All the dogs had something wrong with them and many had to be put down,” Nichols said. “It was intense, but that’s what did it for me.”
Nichols began volunteering with Adams County Pet Rescue before the new building was constructed. Prior to that, stray dogs were put in the city pound, which was closed due a parvovirus breakout.
“The new building is so much nicer,” Nichols said. “I firmly believe it has made a huge difference for this community.”
In fact, she also helped with that construction.
“I learned things like how to hang dry wall and insulation – you name it,” she said.
ACPR takes in both strays and owner surrenders. Nichols believes much of the overcrowding at the shelter is because a puppy is cute as a baby and toddler, then they hit the teenage years.
“They start causing trouble,” she said.
It’s at that point people will decide they really weren’t cut out to be a dog parent and turn them over to the shelter, sometimes even dropping them at the door in the middle of the night. That’s where volunteers like Nichols are so valuable to the staff at the shelter.
She even has advice on how others can help. She said food is always needed as they have many dogs and cats to feed, as well as providing the food for those recruited into the Coyote Ridge Dogs program.
“Even one can of cat food helps,” Nichols said.
Volunteers are also needed to show up and play with the kittens and walk the dogs.
And cash donations are always needed. Nichols said the shelter has many expenses, like food and medicine for the animals, electricity and even making the mortgage payments.
Nichols was born in Othello, as was her grandmother. She works at Othello Community Hospital and also volunteers with the annual fair.
She is the owner of a terrier from the Blue Mountain Rescue in Walla Walla.
Much of the time, her 11-year-old niece Whitlee can also be found helping out at the shelter here.
“The last spay and neuter clinic, she cleaned the inside of all the kennels without being asked,” Nichols said. “She will jump in to help with whatever the crew needs and that’s what volunteering is all about.”
Nichols herself tends to downplay her role in helping to save the lives of animals.
“I just do small things, like mostly feeding the crew,” she said.
The staff at the shelter will tell you differently, though.
“She is so caring and helps us clean, run errands to the Tri-Cities, brings us snacks and treats for the dogs,” Erika Salmeron said. “We love her here because she is very helpful and will do things before you even have to ask.”
ACPR director Kyya Grant said that is because Nichols’ timing is “impeccable.” She seems to show up at the right time and she is always willing to groom and walk the dogs and Grant feels she is one of the most giving people she has ever met.
“She is game to do anything we need,” Grant said. “We love her and really appreciate her.”
Nichols definitely enjoys volunteering and would like to see more people take part.
“But if you want to help at a shelter, you better like animals,” she said.
Adams County Pet Rescue is located at 1961 Bench Road east of the fairgrounds. Hours are noon to 6 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The facility is closed Mondays and Thursdays for cleaning. To contact ACPR, call (509) 488-5514 or email adopt@AdamsCountyPetRescue. Be sure to visit the website at www.adamscountypetrescue.com and like their Facebook page.