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Helping Paws

Volunteer dog walker community makes a difference

Writer & Photographer  /  Demi Lawrence

The Humane Society for Hamilton County is Indiana’s only open-admission, truly no-kill animal shelter, with close to 3,000 critters passing through each year. Founded in 1984, the Society has many to thank for the success it has had over the years, from employees to the generous donations made by Hamilton County residents. However, those truly behind the magic are the volunteers.

Alan Wlasuk is a retiree who lives in Geist with his wife, Sally. When he’s not sipping on a coffee from Mama Bears or at Geist Fitness, he is at the shelter. He is there every day, walking the dogs. But he’s far from the only one, as there are about 25 volunteers who give of their time to walk the dogs.

“Retired people, what do they do when they retire?” Wlasuk asked. “I could be in my basement, building thousands of bird houses, or I could be outside and get exercise, too. It just seemed like a good fit.”

As a volunteer, Wlasuk and the others walk the dogs, feed them, clean their runs and simply spend time with them. Since the Humane Society for Hamilton County is a no-kill shelter, the volunteer community occasionally raises money to train a dog that may otherwise be unadoptable. Much more than just a group of volunteers, the dog walkers enjoy each other’s company and occasionally spend time together bowling or grabbing dinner.

“It’s nice to have the community, because if you’re walking around picking up poop, it’s 12 degrees or 90 degrees outside, it’s so much nicer if you’ve got a community of walkers, each of whom are contributing and you know they’ll contribute,” Wlasuk said. “If you have that support structure, it makes being a volunteer easier because you know you’re not the only person who cares.”

The Humane Society for Hamilton County is non-profit organization always in need of donations. Animal food is always in high demand, but you can also donate old blankets and toys. For more information on how to donate, visit www.hamiltonhumane.com/how-to-help/donate.

Wlasuk is also a photographer. He takes photos for the Humane Society’s website, but also takes photos for his own enjoyment. He even published a book titled “Dog Walkers: Shelter Dogs We Love,” featuring the shelter’s dogs and their stories. In addition to the book, he has a calendar featuring the same dogs that are in the book. For more information on Wlasuk’s photography and publications, he can be reached at awlasuk@gmail.com.

About Demi Lawrence

Demi Lawrence is a freshman at Ball State University. Demi enjoys reading, spending too much money on concerts and taking photos of her friends.

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