Animal Welfare Professionals

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  • 1.  In need of advice and ideas

    Posted 11-08-2023 06:21 PM

    Hello everyone,

    This probably isn't a topic that is usually discussed on this site, and I wasn't able to find a forum on it when I searched. I wasn't sure which topic(s) to  select.

    I work in an animal rescue that has a small shelter as a base, and has as many animals in foster as well can. We have a good number of volunteers who will come to the shelter to help the care staff and spend time with the animals.

    1 of our amazing volunteers just passed away unexpectedly, and I am wondering if anyone has ideas on what we could do to honor her memory at the shelter. She started volunteering with us around the time I started working here 4 years ago, and has been amazing with socializing the dogs. She has made a big difference in the lives of a lot of people and dogs, and has helped many scared and lost dogs find their ways back to their people.

    Thank you for any ideas in advance.


    Chelsey Erstad
    Animal Care Manager
    Shelter From The Storm Animal Rescue

  • 2.  RE: In need of advice and ideas

    Posted 11-09-2023 04:52 AM

    Could you name the dog wing in her honor? Or name a new intake after her and share a post on social media about the name and who it represents.

    Amanda Gray
    Adoptions volunteer
    Adopt A Cat Foundation

  • 3.  RE: In need of advice and ideas

    Posted 11-09-2023 06:38 AM

    Hey Chelsey, 

     First let me say how sorry I am for your loss. 

    At my facility, a few years ago we lost one of our long-time volunteers (20 yrs). We had a bench commissioned with her name on it. We placed it in our courtyard area outside of our lobby doors where our in-memory bricks (for those who've lost their furry best friends). Several years later we lost one of my former interns who was also the fire chiefs' son. We had a wooden bench done and it's on the opposite side of the courtyard. 

    My goal is to restructure our courtyard in the next few years and turning one of the current unused pathways into a rainbow bridge like the one in NC at I believe a dog park. The entire area would then become an in memory/honor section. 

    I would be happy to snap some photos of the bench's/bricks if you have any interest in seeing them. 

    I was not the one who chose the bench idea, and to be honest I'm not in love with that but it's also hard to find a way to honor someone or multiple people without it becoming/feeling dated over time. A plaque doesn't feel adequate, and a bench feels like it's not enough. 

    Good luck!


    Angellee Vincent

  • 4.  RE: In need of advice and ideas

    Posted 11-09-2023 06:51 AM

    Yes so sorry about your loss. I would say name a dog, a litter of puppies with her name, last name, nickname, where she lived, was born, favorite food, partners name, etc.  I think anything you do would be meaningful. 

    Angela Rowe
    Second Chance Dog Rescue

  • 5.  RE: In need of advice and ideas

    Posted 11-09-2023 08:11 AM

    If you have kennels could you add name plates to honor people like this volunteer? You could combine this with a memorial service celebration of life to make it even more meaningful. Invite the family, community and staff to participate and make donations in her name. When someone volunteers for such a long period of time, we know that they have made these animals part of their family. They would want you to continue doing as much as possible for them. You could start a fundraiser in her name for donations or items that she would have wanted for the animals. Doing the fundraise your annually could also be a continuing effort to keep her memory alive.

    Sharon Esempio
    Board Membe and Volunteer
    Paws Fur Recovery

  • 6.  RE: In need of advice and ideas

    Posted 11-09-2023 09:49 AM

    Hi Chelsey,

    I have a few ideas to share:

    1. Before my time, a beloved animal caregiver named Tae Bennett passed away. I was told he has a magic touch with difficult dogs. We named a new play yard after him.
    2. Also before my time, our VP of Field Services, Ray Noll, passed away. A scholarship fund was created that helped employees pay for professional development opportunities, which I think related to his care for staff.
    3. When I was in a university marching band (a VERY tight community), we had a member pass away suddenly. Someone reserved a small auditorium and hosted an event in which students could share memories or tributes to him. It wasn't attended by everyone, of course, but I went and was really touched.
    4. If you want to erect a memorial but don't have space, you might see if a local park system has a memorial tree program where you can pay to have a tree planted with a commemorative plaque.

    James Pawlowicz
    Humane Rescue Alliance

  • 7.  RE: In need of advice and ideas

    Posted 11-09-2023 04:17 PM

    I am not familiar with this, but maybe I can help you with some ideas :

    1. Memorial Service:  Arrange a memorial service or gathering to celebrate the volunteer's life. Invite fellow volunteers, friends, and family to share stories, memories, and the positive impact the volunteer had on the organization.

    2. Memorial Plaque or Monument:  in a prominent location in your organization to honor the volunteer's memory. Include a brief inscription detailing their contributions and the positive influence they had.

    3. Dedicate a Project or Program:  If the volunteer had a specific project or program they were passionate about, consider dedicating it to their memory. This could be a lasting tribute to their dedication and hard work.

    4. Establish a Memorial Fund.  

    I hope you find this advice useful

    Myriam Martinez
    Mujeres Latinas SC

  • 8.  RE: In need of advice and ideas

    Posted 11-10-2023 03:23 AM

    I am so sorry for you and your team's loss. Volunteers like that are invaluable and most definitely leave a mark on the lives they save. 
    As for a special way to remember her, the memory bench is a great idea as are the bricks. A picture of her with her story in the lobby or even a yearly fundraiser in her honor may be more appropriate depending on what space is available  as well. Whatever you choose, try to include her family if possible.
    It sounds as if she was doing something she loved and she had great people that obviously loved her.  What an amazing person she must have been. 

    Tammy Khounlavong
    Rescue volunteer
    Friends of Greenup PAWS
    South Point OH