Volunteer Interview: Michelle O' Sullivan
1.Name and a little about yourself
Hi, I’m Michelle Bourton or should I say O’Sullivan, I’m still getting used to my new married name. I’m from Slane, my husband & I moved down to Kenmare from Dublin a year ago and we absolutely love it. I work in Marketing and have been lucky to be able to work from home for the past 18 months.
2. How do you volunteer with Klaws (what do you do) and how long have you been volunteering for KLAWS?
I’ve been volunteering with KLAWS since April. I help out with the KLAWS Facebook & Instragram accounts. I remember my first post for KLAWS was of Cogar the gorgeous deaf puppy. We also foster dogs - we’ve fostered three gorgeous dogs since April and it’s been so rewarding.
3. Why did you become a volunteer?
We absolutely love dogs and when we looked up KLAWS saw that they were looking for foster carers. We had some spare time & an enclosed garden so thought we’d give it a go. I was also secretly hoping that fostering would convince my husband to get a dog, but don't tell him. Then with social media, one day somebody just asked if anyone could help out & I put my hand up. It just kind of happened.
4. What have you learned from volunteering? Has it changed you in any way?
Yes definitely. I’ve never volunteered on an ongoing basis before, it was usually a day helping out here and there. I’m completely blown away by the care, dedication and selflessness of volunteers for the greater good of caring for animals in need. I had no idea just how much work goes on behind the scenes to have a charity ticking over. It really does take a village. I think what it has changed in me is - every little helps and it really makes a difference. Something small like putting a post up on social media can hopefully recruit new foster carers, get donations, find a forever home- it is making a difference to the lives of many animals in need.
5. Anything about volunteering you didn't expect?
Before fostering dogs I thought that we’d just be giving them a place to stay but completely underestimated the impact we would have on the dogs over the course of their time with us. We’ve had a real mix of dogs- one that was mistreated before he was rescued, another that was little Miss independent and our last one was a total dote who just needed some love & exercise. A lot of the time is about giving them a place to feel safe, cared for and have some fun. As a foster carer your job is to get them ready for their forever home.
6. What would you describe as a high point and low point of your time volunteering?
There are lots of highs and lows. The lows are when you hear about a mistreated animal that has come in or when a rehoming doesnt work out.
The highs are definitely when an animal gets rehomed and seeing the turnaround in them while in our care. It’s incredible to see what some love & care can do to an animal. So many dogs & cats' lives have been completely transformed because of the care of foster carers and their forever families. I’ll never forget the little but big things when you have a foster dog like the first time they lie down beside you, they wag their tail, or let you give them a belly rub. That feeling when you know they feel safe & trust you is magical.
7. Any stand out fosters or foster stories for you?
The ones that pull at my heart strings are the ones most in need- Gerri the cat needed a special foster carer to help with her ailments. She was a totally new cat in no time at all.
Miley the dog took ages to rehome- gorgeous blue merle. It can be tricky to rehome the older ones who are often the ones most in need of somewhere safe to spend their last years. When he found his forever home it was a huge moment for us all, but especially his foster Dad.
Working on social you get to see the full circle of animals. Robbie & Gerri were strays that came in- they were filthy (matted hair) & so skinny. They were taken care of, transformed into healthy, happy dogs & rehomed successfully. Recently we got some pics through of Robbie on his holidays- the picture of happiness. It was incredible to see his story unfold over just a few months.
8. What would you say about someone thinking about volunteering?
If you have time to spare on an ongoing basis or even every once in a while let us know. It’s incredibly rewarding & every little helps. It can be smallest of things like dropping off documentation, transporting animals. Everyone is so sound and does their best but also understands that life can be busy and you often have a day job too.
We will be needing help over Christmas for any animals in our care- foster carers will be needed so we dont have rescues spending Christmas in kennels. So if you’d like to help out even for a specific period of time please let us know.