September 2020 Volunteer of the Month: Laura Weaks
Meet Laura! RASKC is extremely pleased to honor foster volunteer Laura Weaks as Volunteer of the Month. For each of the past two years, she has contributed well over 2,000 hours. In fact, last year Laura contributed more than 2,600 hours. Since she began with RASKC in 2016, Laura has contributed over 6,800 hours: Absolutely amazing! Not only does Laura provide loving care to a large number of RASKC animals, she engages in other super thoughtful actions to help the shelter. For example, a few years ago, Laura took the initiative to purchase a large ad in the Cascade View Elementary auction, then donated the space for RASKC messaging. Thank you for all that you do, Laura!
Q: How did you hear about RASKC?
A: I have been familiar with the shelter for several years through previous pet adoptions.Q: What made you want to volunteer, especially to work with animals?
A: My husband Henry and I support numerous nonprofit organizations around King County, but I still felt a calling to seek an organization where I could utilize my passion for animals. The shelter appealed to me, because of the strong volunteer foster program coordinated by Lori Mason. After attending the mandatory orientation, I immediately felt like it was a good match for me. I have always had pets in my life and was blessed to have been raised with animals in such a positive light. Unfortunately, there are so many animals who are not living in a loving home and suffer abuse and neglect. Animals don’t have a voice, and volunteering for RASKC enables me to be a voice for some of those animals in need.
Q: Tell us about your pets.
A: My email itsazoo@ perfectly describes our household. We have two dogs, five cats, three guinea pigs, and a fish. Our five cats all have very different personalities. Quirky would sum it up. Two of the five cats are moms from two of our foster litters. I always have a soft spot for the mamma cats! We have a senior West Highland Terrier who is almost 15 and a new mixed sheepdog puppy who just turned one year-old. They have a love/ hate relationship. They both have big personalities and make us laugh. Our three guinea pigs are sisters and warm my heart when they wheek and popcorn. (Eds note: Popcorning guinea pigs will jump straight into the air without warning. They may resemble a bucking bronco, twisting and kicking out their legs in the air, or look like they’re riding a pogo stick in a funny way. Some guinea pigs will popcorn straight into the wall). I have been missing my cats and pigs while living in San Diego, but know they are all in good hands with our house sitter.
Q: What are your favorite places to take your dogs for a walk?
A: When we’re home, we love to take our dogs to Marymoore Dog Park. While we are in San Diego, my absolute favorite place to take our two dogs is Dog Beach in Del Mar. It is a gorgeous off leash beach and a dogs /people paradise. Levi and Rudy love running on the beach and meeting new dog friends. We are all going to miss this special place when we head back to Washington.
Q: What do you like to do when you aren’t volunteering at RASKC?
A: I take care of my two teen girls and a house full of pets. Family is most important to me. It is also important to me to make a positive difference in the world. I love spending time outdoors in our beautiful state and also enjoy traveling around the world. One of my most loved vacations, has been Kenya, Africa. I could bump around in a jeep for days looking at wild animals.
Q: What have you gained from your experience as a volunteer with RASKC?
A: RASKC has fulfilled a huge need of mine to make a positive difference in the lives of numerous animals. Every animal that I have fostered has become a part of our family and has left our home with a lot of love.
Q: What is your life motto?
A: My life motto is “above and beyond.” It is so important to do more than is expected of you. When I foster, I treat each animal as it is my own and do whatever is necessary for them to have the best possible life. Although the shelter offers free food for the foster animals, I choose to purchase the food and supplies for my foster pets. I take the time to get to know each foster animal and their personalities, which allows me to match them with the appropriate families. I am a firm believer of the importance for kittens to have appropriate socialization. I always keep every kitten for 10 weeks, before placing them with a family. My motto keeps me going and reaching out to help animals in need wherever I may be in the world. The most difficult part for me, is that I can’t help every animal in need.
Q: Tell us a little more about yourself.
A: When I was a kid, I entered my cat into a pet contest at Redmond Derby Days. My Snowball won best groomed. Much later I went to Chapman University and graduated magna cum laude, majoring in communications film and television. After college, I worked for various producers and ended up at Warner Bros. Studios working in television movies and miniseries.
Due to COVID-19, my family, two dogs and I have been living at our vacation home in San Diego. Unfortunately, I have not been able to foster at RASKC during this time, but I have managed to help out animals in need in San Diego. During the first week, I rescued two sick kittens through Craigslist, got them necessary vet care and after nursing them back to health, I found them a loving home together. Those were two expensive kittens! My husband says that that was our COVID-19 good deed for animals. I have also joined local FB rescue pages and help others who are helping animals in need. Our home in San Diego is on five acres and I am currently refurbishing an old chicken coop structure into a shelter to house cats in need. If I get my wish, someday I will have a cat sanctuary on our property.
Q: Describe a memorable moment you’ve had with RASKC animals.
A: Fostering is not always fun and easy. It is a lot of hard work and sometimes very difficult. My first foster experience was involved a pair of two week-old kittens who were very sick. I spent long nights in a steam shower to help one of the kittens breathe. Unfortunately, Ginger had a disease in her lungs and passed. Her sister Cleo survived, but was in need of a strong medication to eradicate the toxoplasmosis in her lungs. I have fostered a hospice cat we named Lovey who had kidney failure. When I picked up Lovey from the shelter, she was skin and bones, extremely matted. She turned out to be the sweetest cat, hence the name Lovey. She was lucky enough to find a loving home where she lived for two good years as the princess of the house. I have fostered several litters, some with moms and some not. Every foster experience is different, but all are awarding in their own ways. I treat every one of my foster pets as part of my family, and therefore feel the responsibility to personally find them loving homes where they will thrive. It is always sad to see each fur baby go, but at the same time a rewarding experience, knowing I have placed them into a good home. I love receiving text from the adoptive families with their kitty updates. That is the reward that warms my heart.
Q: What else would you like to say about volunteering for RASKC?
A: The foster program would not exist without Lori Mason who selflessly dedicates so much time and passion into such a vital program. I am grateful for her passion for animals and her continuous support. Due to her dedication, the foster program enables hundreds of animals to find their forever homes, in the comfort of a foster home. RASKC is so lucky to have such a valuable employee.
Volunteering at RASKC has been a positive experience in my life and I would recommend all animal lovers to take a leap and help out their local shelters. A litter of kittens is great therapy!
Q: Fun fact?
A: I won an award for best film at Chapman University.