A Dog isn’t just for Christmas…

by Andra Ciuperca, Lara Govea, & Verena Zimmer.

The winter holidays are approaching! And while the university grounds are alight with holiday cheer (and deadlines fear) perhaps you have been missing snuggling up with your fluffy friend from back home as of late. Or maybe you just have some extra time on your hands and want to contribute to the Den Haag community.

Andra and Lara are doing exactly this, by volunteering at the Stichting Haags Dierencentrum, and there are plenty of reasons why you should get involved too! Not only will you get some time to spend with many four-pawed friends (and newly made human friends), but on top of it, some quality time de-stressing from university.

Interested yet? Well, you can volunteer several days a week, although the shelter would prefer volunteers who are available on weekends, and you can spend your time either working with cats or dogs. Andra and Lara are working with dogs. In total, 25 lovely dogs call the animal shelter their home. Most of them are either Pit bulls, American Staffordshire Terriers, or a mixed breed, and were either brought in by their previous owners or the local authorities.

Don’t be scared if you don’t have previous experience handling shelter animals! Most of the dogs are simply happy to spend some time with you, and are not at all scarred or misbehaved (although if they were, even the more reason to share your time and attention with them).

A typical day at the shelter as a volunteer begins quite early, namely at 8.30 am. You will start by being tasked with cleaning their individual shelters. You will then receive guidance by a more experienced volunteer, and you will not have to deal with tasks or animals that are too difficult for you to handle.

At 11 am you will have a break in which you can enjoy some coffee with your fellow volunteers. Which is followed by the best part of the day: you get to play with the animals! And if you are taking care of dogs, as Andra and Lara are, you will be able to take one for a walk. Maybe even go with your dog to the local lake?

It’s also quite easy to get started at the Dierencentrum. In Andra’s and Lara’s case, they went to an open day in October, and after expressing their interest and sending a couple emails back and forth, were invited to an information session. At this session, the staff showed them the facility, answered their questions, and explained them their tasks.

But in your case? Just get in touch with the shelter! You can do so through the following email-address: receptie@haagsdierencentrum.nl or by filling in the online volunteer application (in Dutch) available at their website.

It is also not a problem if you don’t speak Dutch (even if the application is Dutch), so don’t worry about having to face a constant language barrier. Almost everybody at Dierencentrum speaks English and the volunteers will always make an effort to speak English. Besides, sometimes a love for animals is enough to circumvent any language barriers!

Are you convinced yet? If so, apply soon! Plenty of cats and dogs are awaiting to make your acquaintance. Andra and Lara are already in love with Lady, an intelligent and loving Pit-bull who they take for a walk every week and who brightens up their day every Saturday.

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