Wayne County Dog Shelter Volunteer Makes Dogs Happy

WOOSTER — If one more dog gets time in the yard, a trip through the drive-thru or an hour of cuddles, then volunteer Sheila Fike has achieved her goal for the week at Wayne County Dog Shelter.

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Fike, 54, started volunteering at the shelter when it opened in September 2015. She attended one of the first volunteer orientation sessions and goes to the shelter every Saturday to play with the dogs and their pay attention if necessary.

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“When the dog shelter opened, I was looking for a way in our community to help the dogs,” Fike said. “I love their mission and what they were, the whole vibe…It’s always a good experience and a fun way to end my week.”

Passion for puppies with Ozzie

Her passion for dogs began when she adopted her first dog, Ozzie. He was a puppy and came to her house infested with fleas and worms. She knew something was wrong and started researching her race. She learned about dog rescues and how they try to save dogs that have been mistreated or abused.

She contacted several area dog rescues and began volunteering as a transport, people who take dogs out of shelters and place them in rescues. She joined a caravan that carried dogs out of Missouri and she relayed the dogs between Mansfield and Wadsworth.

“I wanted a dog, but after adopting and researching, I found that a lot of dogs needed help,” Fike said.

Dog shelter volunteers lighten the load

Wayne County Dog Shelter volunteers allow shelter staff to focus on specific animals or programs that need more attention, according to shelter manager Katelyn Lehman. More experienced shelter volunteers are given more responsibilities, such as working one-on-one with unsocialized dogs and bringing them home for temporary fostering.

The shelter tries to get dogs out of their indoor/outdoor kennels once or twice a day. If staff are focused on taking dogs out to play areas, they may not have time for other responsibilities, such as employee training sessions, temperament testing, or revaccinations. .

“Volunteers allow staff to be more productive and in turn help more animals,” Lehman said. “Sheila again takes the strain off the shelter staff when caring for a difficult dog that would otherwise consume a lot of staff time.”

They’re tugging at his heartstrings

Fike’s greatest passion is working with frightened dogs at the shelter. She enjoys spending time with them and bringing them out of their shell. She looks forward to returning to the shelter each week to see the dogs’ progress. Sometimes it’s as simple as sitting in the big recreation room tossing a tennis ball or giving a dog a few extra treats.

“They tug at my heartstrings,” Fike said. “Some dogs are happy and some aren’t happy to be there. They haven’t asked to be there. Some really shut down and are scared. They can come across as grumpy. Those are the ones that attract me. »

Fike understands that working at the dog shelter can be emotionally difficult for people. She wants more people to open their hearts and realize that the gratification of helping dogs is “truly priceless”. She doesn’t want to bring all the dogs home, but she wants to see them all find a suitable and loving home.

For people who are hesitant to volunteer at the shelter, Fike recommends starting slow.

“Don’t let fear and emotion stop you. Go slowly. Walk with a dog. Maybe next week spend a few more hours in the yard or make it a dog outing,” Fike said. “I understand that it can be emotional. It’s not as sad as people may perceive. It’s more of a happy thing. It makes dogs happy.

She put her PAWS footprint into action

In addition to his volunteer work, Fike also helped create the Promoting Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) for the shelter in June 2020. The nonprofit organization enables the county-run shelter to accept donations and ask for grants.

PAWS hosted this year Bow Wow Ball, raising $30,000 for the shelter’s medical fund. The organization has also raised funds for property improvements, landscaping and a new play structure. The group plans to replace all of the shelter’s kennels and install new fencing on the property.

“Working with Sheila is wonderful,” said Kathy Gray, who helped establish PAWS with Fike. “There’s a lot of ego in animal welfare. It’s not Sheila. She doesn’t expect applause. I’m so glad I got to meet her through this.”

Fike looks forward to another year of Yappy Hours at Troutman Vineyards and Winery, which are scheduled May through October on the second Friday of each month.

“Have a glass of wine and bring your dog,” she said.


Last name: Sheila Fike

Age: 54

Residence: Wooster

Years of volunteering: Since Wayne County Dog Shelter opened in 2015.

Why volunteer? “I love the mission (of the Wayne County Dog Shelter) and what it was about, the whole atmosphere