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Volunteer at Alaqua Animal Refuge – They’re Counting on Us!

December 28, 2012 by Marla Burns

Looking for a great volunteer opportunity that will help a most worthy organization and warm your heart at the same time? Alaqua Animal Refuge needs the support of our community, and you can help. As an independent, non-profit organization that advocates the general welfare and humane treatment of animals in need, the refuge provides shelter, a full service adoption center, educational outreach, and community programs.

Alaqua is the premier, “no-kill” refuge, founded in 2007 on a 10-acre farm in Freeport, Florida. Laurie Hood, the organization’s founder, started the sanctuary after learning of the countless animals that were being euthanized every month because a no-kill shelter did not even exist in our area. “Today, animals that were once homeless, lost and abused, can instead run and play in sun-soaked pastures, swim in cool, clean ponds, relax on breezy screened porches and graze in lush, green fields.”

Currently, it costs about $50,000 per month to operate the refuge, and those monies are entirely dependent upon private donations. Fundraising is a continual effort and some months it’s a struggle. With a focus on special events, memberships, planned giving and grants, Alaqua’s volunteers and community relationships help make that struggle worthwhile. The feeling of knowing you’ve helped a defenseless animal find a loving, forever home, or to find comfort and security at the Alaqua sanctuary, is worth every minute or every dime spent.

Alaqua receives over 100 requests each day to take in animals who have no place else to go, or are in danger of being euthanized at local shelters. They’ve made it their mission to give neglected, abandoned, or abused animals a chance at a new life with loving, caring families. The refuge is home to as many as 250 animals at any given time, and over the years, they’ve helped find homes for over 8,000 needy animals, with as many as 100 adoptions every month.

There are countless ways that you can help the hundreds of homeless and abused animals that Alaqua rescues. From donating money, food, bedding, medical supplies or equipment, to volunteering your time answering phones in their office, fostering a litter of puppies or kittens, helping out with bathing or walking the animals, or just coming out to show them some love and attention, it will do your heart good and give you a marvelous sense of well-being.

Lorraine Sloan has been Alaqua’s Volunteer Dog Walking Coordinator since 2009. She says they are always in need of volunteers, and if she had one message to convey to encourage people to help out, it would be “the camaraderie of both the dogs and the people. I’ve met so many tremendous individuals. It’s easy to develop great friendships when you already have the love and well-being of the dogs in common. They become a part of your life and you know you’ve made a beneficial difference in theirs”. Not only are you helping out the animals, but you can get outside in a beautiful setting and “it’s tremendous exercise to be out walking and playing with the dogs”, much better than counting the minutes at the gym till you can be done with your workout.

Alaqua has all types of animals, not just dogs and cats. There are horses, pigs, sheep, goats, ducks, geese, rabbits, emu, donkeys, and even a steer. You can be part of the loving care that goes into keeping them healthy and happy. For more information, details about volunteering at Alaqua, and to download a volunteer application, please visit their website at www.alaquaanimalrefuge.org/Volunteer?tab=1. You can also find a list of their special medical needs and other items on their wish list.

Alaqua wants to encourage the community to come out and get involved. Snowbirds are welcome, too. Go out for a visit, take a tour, and be a part of a wonderful organization that needs our help and support.

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Marla Burns

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