Sally Bosco

Author of Dark Fiction

My interview with Friends of Strays

OK.  This isn’t writing-related, I know, but it is a big part of my life.  Twice a week I volunteer with a no-kill shelter named, Friends of Strays in St. Petersburg, FL.  They decided to interview me.

How many pets do you own? What kind? Dogs/cats/ferrets…

I’m still mourning the loss of my buddy of 16 years, MiniKitty, so I don’t have a new cat yet. I’m sure there’s one in my future, though.

MiniKitty always liked to sleep on my Mac.

Why did you decide to become a volunteer?

I’ve loved Friends of Strays and contributed to them for years, so when my schedule changed to allow me more free time, this was one of the first things I did.  I love the fact that they are a no-kill shelter.

Describe your role as a volunteer?

I always work the same room in order to become familiar with the cats, and believe me, I’ve become very familiar.  There can be are 30 or so cats in one room at any given time, and I know their names, their personalities and their habits as though they were people.  They are usually outside of their cages during the daytime, so my role as a volunteer is to help socialize the kitties.  I pet them, cuddle them, pick them up so they’ll get used to it, play with them.  The ones who are used to being in a home situation miss having a lap to sit on, so I see who wants to be a ‘lap cat.’  I do make sure they have enough food and that their bedding is comfortable and dry, and I do some spot cleaning of litter boxes, but this isn’t the main function of the volunteers; the heavy cleaning is done by staff.

How many hours per week do you devote to volunteering at FOS?

I’m there 2 days a week for 3 hours each.

What is the part of volunteering that you enjoy the most?

My very favorite thing is comforting the new or timid cats.  They’re scared in their new surroundings.  Some don’t even come out of their cages at first.  But all respond to affection and gentle words, and it’s gratifying to see them day-by-day get more comfortable with their surroundings and start to interact with the other cats, then finally get adopted.  The cats who have been at the shelter for awhile also need special attention.

What is the best adoption story that touched your heart?

There was a cat, Timmy, a pretty orange cat who looked like Morris.  He was so shy he’d never come out of his cage.  Gradually, he became my favorite.  I’d always pet him for a long time and he’d roll around in appreciation.  After a while he started coming out a little bit, then a wonderful, patient woman adopted him and slowly introduced him to the other cats in her household.  Timmy gradually got integrated into the family.  She posted some of his pictures on Facebook, too.  There may have been more extreme cases, but Timmy touched me in a special way.

Timmy

What’s special about Friends of Strays?

I love the fact that they are a no-kill shelter.  Every animal who comes in the door will have a home for life.  Also, the people at FOS really care about the animals and, as much as possible, treat them as individuals with different needs.  We had one cat, Mitchell, who was severely allergic to everything, so one of the volunteers started cooking him duck.  Some cats have favorite beds or blankies from which they’re never separated.  There were brother and sister kittens who were miserable apart, so they were put in a ‘double wide’ cage together and eventually were adopted together.  Josie, the volunteer coordinator, is truly wonderful and empathetic to the animals.

If you could choose to provide Friends of Strays Volunteers with one super-power, what would it be?

To be able to find a loving home for every stray animal. (And make people responsible for their pets.)

When you are not giving love to homeless animals, how do you spend your non-FOS time?

I’m currently pursuing an MFA in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University.  Other than that, I’m working on my writing and publishing.  Check out some of my writing at http://sallybosco.com .  I also write theater reviews for Creative Loafing magazine and work out at the gym doing cardio and weights.

What advice would you give to someone interested in becoming an FOS volunteer?

I’d say just try it.  You can volunteer for just a few hours a week if you’d like, but I guarantee that it’s addicting.  The love you get from the animals is wonderful and healing.  It makes you feel so good to be helping these loveable and intensely interesting little creatures.

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2 responses to “My interview with Friends of Strays

  1. Melanie February 20, 2011 at 12:35 am

    That is really cool what you do! I’d love to volunteer more if I had the time.

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