Volunteers help care for animals at humane society

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Three pit bull mixes stand in their kennels at Capital Area Humane Society. The shelter takes in more than 4,000 animals per year at its shelter in Watertown Township.

Michael Dobbin

Three pit bull mixes stand in their kennels at Capital Area Humane Society. The shelter takes in more than 4,000 animals per year at its shelter in Watertown Township.

Lauren Schwartz loves letting the kittens out of their kennels to play and be petted at the Capital Area Humane Society.

Schwartz, a junior at Michigan State, loves going to the humane society to get away from the stress of academics and volleyball.

“When I go and volunteer I do anything from walking dogs, playing with kittens and puppies and visiting with the cats,” Schwartz said. “I enjoy interacting and socializing with animals who are abandoned and looking for a home I love when I’m there because it makes me feel good knowing I’m spending time with the animals and it helps me escape my stress.”

The Capital Area Humane Society, located in Watertown Township just west of Lansing, has more than 2,400 active volunteers at its shelter and about 45 employees. Each year the shelter cares for about 4,000 animals.

Lexi Rithenburgh, a Michigan State University grad who works at the Capital Area Humane Society, could not imagine doing anything else.

“I went to MSU to study zoology, but I started working here my freshman year and never wanted to leave,” Rithenburgh said. “This is the only thing I could see myself doing once I started. It puts a smile on my face knowing I’m sending animals home healthier than before.”

Rithenburgh started working at the humane society three years ago. She helps assist with fundraisers and pet adoption events.

“I used to work fundraising events and I enjoyed talking to people and educating them on how to adopt an animal or how to properly take care of an abandoned animal,” said Rithenburgh.

Some of the services that are offered at the humane society include neuter clinics with reduced prices, rescuing animals, foster programs and vaccinations. Getting vaccinations cost between $10-$15 and surgery fees for cats range between $30-$55.

“Seeing these animals being taken care of at a reduced price is heartwarming to me” Rithenburgh said.

Pam Harden, a board member at the Capital Area Humane Society, grew up with a love for animals.

“My goal at Capital Area Humane Society is to save and adopt out as many animals as possible. Our current adoption rate for this year is 96.1 percent,” Harden said. “We do this by fundraising and reaching out into the community and education.”

Megan Tompkins, volunteer and a former MSU student, said she looks forward to any chance she can spend at the shelter.

“Animals at the humane society deserve to have a forever home,” Tompkins said. “They are some of the nicest animals I have interacted with and they deserve to be happy.”