Viva la service

Albert Ramirez|Staff Undeclared freshman Sarah Reed (left), accounting graduate student Zhen Lei and software engineering senior Mario Medina paint accessibility ramps built by Aug. 29 at Viva Volunteer.

Hundreds of Comets cap off Welcome Week by donating time to local causes

“Mission accomplished. I’m gonna go wash my hands now” said undeclared freshman Andrew Previc after disposing of dog doo at the Richardson Animal Shelter.
Previc was one of hundreds of students who worked at nearly two dozen Dallas area sites Aug. 29 for Viva Volunteer.
Volunteers at the shelter said they considered the day a major success, with many planning to return to help.
Ashley Combs, biochemistry junior, said she was was thrilled to be helping out with dogs, but it took a little arm-twisting from her roommate to get her to participate.
“She kind of made me come, but I’m happy I did,” Combs said.
Her roommate, geosciences senior Elizabeth Waite, was a site leader for the Richardson Animal Shelter group.  She was put in charge of this section because she loves animals, she said. Waite is also service director for the Comet Cat Coalition.
Shelter resource coordinator Richard Daniel directed activities for the day, which included walking, washing and socializing with dogs, while cats received  clean cages, grooming and food. In the dog pens, volunteers were greeted with loud barks, whines and obvious jubilation. Then came the hard part — choosing which dog to walk first.
As dogs and students paired off, undeclared freshman Sid Nivas picked Gracie, a lab mix puppy.
In the cage, Gracie looked sweet and docile, but as soon as her leash was on, she leapt on Nivas excitedly. She knocked him onto his back, then stood waiting for him to take her for her walk, tail vigorously wagging in anticipation.
Elizabeth Ashley gave Jack, a small terrier mix, a bath using the shelter’s empty buckets, water hose and lemon scented Ajax.
Another dog, Lady Gaga, tried to eat the water coming from the hose. When she realized it was bath time, she grew fretful. It wasn’t long before she started to shake soap and water off of her coat and onto the people around her.
Nearby, George Revuelta, mechanical engineering freshman, played with the puppy he was about to walk, Gorgie. A game of keep-away with a fluorescent orange leash turned into a long belly rub.
The shelter also housed goats, whose bleats seemed out of place alongside the familiar domestic animals. Daniel said the goats are purchased by the city for petting zoos, like the one that comes to UTD each year for Sounds of Class at UTD.
At the end of the day, the dogs and people had looks of tired happiness on their face.
“It’s great having volunteers come in to walk dogs that don’t get walked as often as we’d like,” Daniel said.
Due to the current economy a lot of pet owners cannot afford to pay to take care of their animals anymore, and are forced to take them to the shelter for care. These pets are labeled “owner surrender” which a lot of the animals currently at the shelter are labeled.
“If you can give animals a good home, please do it. But if not, you could come and socialize with them. These animals need all the help they can get,” Waite said.
Volunteer opportunities are always available at the Richardson Animal Shelter, from casual pet care tasks to more involved work that necessitates the orientation offered twice a month to further acquaint the volunteers with the shelter.
Richard said the only problem with working at the shelter was that people usually end up taking an animal home with them. He has five dogs, four of which are from the shelter.

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