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Volunteer helps lighten the load of Manteca Animal control officers

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Cathie Davis volunteers four days each week by answering phones, filing paperwork and handling other office-related tasks that help free up animal control officers to handle other business.


POSTED January 21, 2012 2:33 a.m.

Cathie Davis isn’t your typical volunteer.

Four days out of the week she can be found behind the counter at the Manteca Animal Shelter answering phones, processing paperwork and tackling the office work that allows the two full-time animal control officers to handle the work that only they can do.

She treats the position like a job – calling when she’s going to be running a few minutes late and giving plenty of advance notice when she’s not going to make it in for one of the volunteer shifts she has fallen in love with over the course of the last seven months.

Seeing an animal find a good home or a worried owner discover that their wayward dog ended up at the facility is all she needs as payment for her services.

“I wanted to volunteer somewhere in town, and I knew that I didn’t want to be a SHARP. I’ve always loved animals so I thought this would be a much better use of my skill-set than anything else,” Davis said. “And I think I made a pretty good decision.”

Every morning Davis wakes up to her two Boykin Spaniels – Bogie and Bella – and a Wheaten Terrier named Zachary that she agreed to take from a friend when they had to give up their house because of economic factors. She also has two cats – Cali and Blues – that help fill out the household roster and add a dash of feline personality to the mix.

To say that she loves her animals would be an understatement.

Because the Boykin Spaniel – the State dog of South Carolina – is such a rare dog to come across, her husband Gene actually had to fly up to a breeder in Montana to get Bogie. Bella required a road trip to Oregon.

“They’re known as ‘the little brown dog that don’t rock the boat’ because of their temperament when they would go out with hunters into their blinds,” Davis said. “They’re a famous bird hunting dog, and they’re a great dog to have in general. We love having them in the house because of their personalities.

“I’ve been around dogs my entire life, and it’s just kind of something that has stuck with me. I love ‘em.”

And volunteering has opened her eyes to a whole new world as it pertains to animals and how they’re both treated and perceived by people.

One of the things that she quickly learned when seeing the animals come into the shelter was that some of the sweetest dogs in the world happen to be a breed that many people are afraid of and some cities have gone so far as to ban outright.

“I spend a lot of the time that I have here up at the front counter, and I don’t really spend a lot of time back with the animals because when I started volunteering my husband made me promise that there would be no ‘homework,” Davis said. “But I’ve learned that pit bulls can be some of the sweetest dogs in the world – they’ll be so happy to see you when you go back there with their tail wagging all over the place.

“I’ve also learned that you can breed a Chihuahua with just about anything and it’ll be cute. But I’ve learned how irresponsible people can be too, and that can be upsetting.”

While the good outweighs the bad, getting phone calls from people who need to find out how to go about putting a sick dog to sleep and seeing neglected animals brought in by owners that waited two months longer than they should have to turn the animal over still gets under her skin.

But she still has Zachary and Bogie and Bella at home – along with Cali and Blues – to cheer her up.

“I honestly believe that as pet owners we sign a contract with these animals that says we’ll take them into our lives and provide them with food and shelter and all that they need and in return they’ll love us unconditionally – no matter how mad we might get or how bad we might mess something up,” Davis said. “And in the end they trust us to be able to make that decision that we don’t want to make because we want to hold on to them.

“It’s not about us at that point – it’s part of that contract that you sign with them. It’s a magical cycle and we’re blessed to have them in our lives the way that we do – it’s a type of friendship that can’t be described.”

— Jason Campbell
staff reporter

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