Just up the road in Murphysboro, Shannon Sarillo has been helping to make animals’ lives easier for the last two years.
“I had been volunteering for a few months at the shelter before noticing a ‘Help Wanted’ sign up outside the shelter,” she said. “I wasn’t really looking for a job at the time, but knew I wanted to do anything I could to help these animals find their forever homes and as luck would have it, I got the job!”
Sarillo, a senior from Grayslake studying business management and entrepreneurship, is one of several SIU students who dedicate time at the Humane Society of Illinois, located at 95 Humane Road in Murphysboro. While Sarillo has established herself at the Humane Society, several new students have just begun their journey at the shelter.
“I had no idea how easy it was to get involved,” she said. “I am a huge animal lover and began looking into volunteering at a shelter because I was missing being around animals while away at school. I didn’t live in pet friendly apartments so I couldn’t have any of my own and was looking for a way to fill the void.”
Sarillo said volunteers may get approval to take dogs out to the campus lake or even Giant City for a few hours to give them exercise and allow them to socialize with potential permanent families.
“To be able to help these homeless animals feel loved and happy even if it’s only for a few hours a day is just awesome,” she said.
Students are welcome to visit and socialize with the animals. For those with a true admiration for the work and the animals at the shelter, volunteering is a must, Sarillo said.
“I would definitely encourage college students who are missing their pets back home, or any animal lover who is just wanting to help out, to come volunteer,” she said. “The animals are always so appreciative and you can really see how happy it makes them to get out of their kennels for a while.”
While some students like Sarillo have been volunteering at the shelter for years, volunteers like Gabby Wetzler, a sophomore from Waterloo studying zoology, and Shelby Orr, a freshman from Champaign studying architecture, are just starting.
“I volunteered at my hometown, so I wanted to volunteer where I go to college,” Wetzler said. “I filled out an application online and turned it in and they let me volunteer.”
Orr and Wetzler have just begun their volunteer work in Murphysboro, as they have been with the shelter for two days.
“It’s been good, it’s really fun to play with the dogs,” Orr said.
Wetzler said the work that needs to be accomplished is enjoyable.
“You get to socialize with the dogs and cats. The dogs, you take out to the pens and play with them, and the cats, you take out of their crates and play around with them,” she said.
As Sarillo has affection for and a drive to find the animals new homes, she said she encourages community members to consider adoption because shelter animals often have the most appreciative and unconditional love to give.
“To be able to help (the animals) find homes with genuinely good, animal-loving people who will care for them the rest of their lives is indescribable,” she said.
Jake Saunders can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, on Twitter @Saundersfj, or by phone at 536-3311 ext. 254.