Volunteering with animals is one of the most enjoyable forms of service. Kids love interacting with animals and animals thrive off of their high energy levels. It empowers and inspires individuals to influence their community in a positive way. The experience helps volunteers, especially young individuals, develop empathy and patience. Helping animals in turn gives back to the community as they are able to become stress relief and service animals to interact with individuals in need. Interacting with friendly, well-socialized animals helps reduce cortisol levels, thus reducing stress. In addition, it increases the release of oxytocin which is another chemical that helps reduce stress in both the body and mind. Studies have also demonstrated that interacting with service animals helps calm aggression and hyperactivity in troubled children. (newportacademy.com). This is why working with animals as well as animal-assisted therapy is so important. This is also why October’s cause area is animals and wildlife.
Though there are many benefits to positive interactions with animals and wildlife, unfortunately, many individuals abuse this privilege. Annually in Georgia, the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals receives 150, 000 reports of animal cruelty annually, out of which only 1500 cases are sent to the courts for further consideration (https://idfi.ge/). Not only is animal abuse a serious problem in Georgia and America as a whole, but it also has much more serious implications. According to the humane society, researchers found that pet abuse had occurred in 88 percent of the families under supervision for physical abuse of their children. Therefore, it is important to look out for signs of animal abuse and alert the correct authorities who will take it seriously as it could save a child’s life. W-Underdogs is a local animal advocacy organization that works with the City of Atlanta police department. They train the department to recognize and investigate signs of animal abuse that may otherwise be overlooked.
With a majority of staff and volunteers being pet owners, Pebble Tossers strives to advocate for animals and wildlife not only during the month of October but year-round. Below is a multitude of avenues and organizations that are dedicated to serving animals and wildlife in need:
How We Can Help: Animals in temporary living need clean towels, newspapers, and proper food to eat and prosper. Ultimately, they need permanent homes full of love and protection. We can serve to make their temporary living more enjoyable, and better set them up for a permanent loving home.
- Always check Pebble Tossers’ service calendar for updated volunteer opportunities!
- Wash towels for animal shelters.
- Provide newspapers and other necessities to shelters in need.
- Spend an afternoon playing with unsheltered and sheltered animals.
- Many shelters allow kids to practice reading and other language skills by sitting outside of kennels and reading to attentive animals. The calming voice is helpful to the animal and builds the child’s confidence.
- Zoo Atlanta: Boo at the Zoo – Pebble Tossers has been participating for over 6 years. Volunteers dress up and are assigned to a certain animal exhibit. They give out candy and inform visiting families about said animals. Boo at the Zoo starts in late October. More information can be found at zooatlanta.org.
- Georgia House Rabbit Society: This organization takes in rabbits from foster families, individuals who can no longer care for them, and those that need socialization. Calm, young volunteers are able to help socialize and interact with some of the rabbits. Learn more at www.houserabbitga.com.
- Iron Horse Stables: Therapeutic riding for a variety of individuals. Volunteers can help work in stables, build ramps for people with wheelchairs, pain and build fences, and be present to support select riders. Learn more at cjironhorsetherapy.com/give/.
- Fur Kids: Representatives from Fur Kids bring puppies to assisted living centers. Volunteers invite residents to come down and play with the puppies for many of the benefits listed previously. This experience is great for both younger volunteers and seniors; it elicits positive conversations, brings joy and fulfillment, and keeps seniors young. Learn more at furkids.org/volunteer/.
- Lifeline Animal Project: Bark in the Park event which is field day to bring your dogs as well as “shop” shelter and foster dogs that are adoptable. Learn more at lifelineanimal.org/how-to-help.