Members of LAC Federal visited the Washington Humane Society-Washington Animal Rescue League (WHS-WARL) on Saturday, September 24th to make chew toys for pets. The seven volunteers each brought at least one old t-shirt and one old pair of socks to turn into objects of fun for the dozens of dogs and cats held in the shelter. WHS-WARL Director of Community Engagement Alexandra Miller led the group, demonstrating how to cut and tear the shirts and braid the strips into foot-long dog toys. Some members of the group proved to be old hands at this activity, while others – including event organizer Chris Lao-Scott – found it much more challenging than expected!
After ten minutes, she then passed around catnip to be poured into the old socks for the enjoyment of the shelter’s feline friends. During the activity, Ms. Miller encouraged us to talk about our experiences with pets. Most members of our group grew up with pets, and some had even adopted their current pets from an animal shelter. It soon became clear that all of us held a deep appreciation for our pets and the human-animal bond. Jonathan Barney, a Proposal Manager for LAC Federal, memorably shared many stories about growing up on a farm with working pets.
Following the toy making activity, Ms. Miller lead the group into the dog kennel, where we were allowed a few minutes to introduce ourselves to the available dogs and give them each one chew toy. While some dogs were very excited to have visitors, others exhibited shyness. Some of us were able to use the techniques that Ms. Miller demonstrated to earn these reticent dogs’ trust: avoiding direct eye contact; resting our hands on the kennel door so that they were available for the dog to sniff if they were so inclined; and avoiding the dogs’ foreheads when petting, which can be a fearful encounter for the dog that could lead to an aggressive reaction.
We then moved from the kennel into the kitty korner to give our socks to the cats. While most cats (predictably) slept through our visit, several gave us their full attention. It might have had something to do with the catnip! Only two cats were allowed out of their cages at one time, but our group was able to use the many toys on hand to entertain the two young short-hairs that ran amok. LibSource librarian Tracy Woodard and executive John Harbison took turns reading a book – a favorite activity of the cats – to one regal-looking male named Cordel. An eight-year-old domestic long hair, Cordel exuded a calm, royal demeanor and clearly loved the attention.
As part of their project, LAC donated $150 towards the sponsorship of one animal in the shelter. Ms. Miller emphasized that sponsorship and publicity often meant the difference for animals that had spent an extended time in the shelter without finding their forever home. For LAC, the choice was clear: we sponsored Cordel!
LAC Federal extends a special thanks to the Washington Humane Society-Washington Animal Rescue League for being gracious hosts, and especially to Alexandra Miller for sharing her time, energy, and passion for animals with us. We hope that our toys keep many shelter animals happy during their stays. I would like to extend my heartfelt thanks to those who participated: Jocelyn McNamara, Deputy Director, LAC Federal; John Harbison, Executive Vice President, LibSource; Jonathan Barney, Proposal Manager, LAC Federal; Tracy Woodard, Research Analyst, Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP; Mike O’Connor, Library Team Lead, Smithsonian Institution Libraries; and Sean Crumley, Systems Librarian, USAID.