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ARC needs your time with snowbirds, students gone

July 14, 2011

With nearly 500 animals that need affection and basic care, the Animal Refuge Center is asking for more volunteers, for any hours.

It can be anything from helping pets being socialized, to being better adoptees, to tossing a frisbee to a dog or answering phones.

ARC is the largest no-kill shelter in the area, with the no-kill being a big part of why so many animals are there that need care, said volunteer coordinator Terry L. Colvin.

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An adorable little manx cat is just one of the stray animals in the area that will benefit from ARC.

"The reason we now need more volunteers is that we usually have a lot of seasonal residents and college students that help, but they are gone now," Colvin said.

One misconception is that the summer heat may be a deterrent.

"There are office jobs inside, and once people get here and see what we do, it works inside and out. They want to be here," Colvin said.

Volunteer opportunities include:

- Office: Answer phones, greet potential adopters.

- Cats/kittens: To socialize, grooming, feed, scoop litter, laundry.

- Dogs: To train, socialize, exercise and bathe.

- Events: When ARC is having an event we need help with booth, transporting materials and animals to the event.

"Of course the economy is a factor," she said, of the number of animals in the shelter. "We can get 10 to 50 calls a day with people who have to move out of town for a job, or downsize to a smaller apartment that accepts none or only small pets. But we don't pick or choose any size dog," Colvin said.

"You can come and just throw a ball or a frisbee - the extra love we give the pets is the most important thing," Colvin said.

There is also training that many can be involved in that will help secure a future adoption of a pet.

"Volunteers are an integral part of what we do," said Dianne Zabell, a trustee of the organization. "We generally get thousands of hours from volunteers of all different ages, qualifications and experience."

But with the snowbirds and students gone that has been strained.

"We also use them extensively in events," she said.

ARC has many yearly and even monthly events, from an Antique Roadshow-style fund- raiser, to a gala in November, to adoptions at Petco.

"We need volunteers to take animals to Petco adoption events. We are only allowed one animal per car to go out of ARC," she sad.

The more that go out, the more that are adopted.

One fear volunteers may have is that an animal shelter may be a sad place. That is completely far from the truth.

"It is such a happy place. Animals here are so well cared for," Colvin said.

ARC is a non-profit animal shelter/sanctuary. All dogs and cats are in a cageless environment.

ARC is located at 18011 Old Bayshore Road, North Fort Myers. For information, contact Colvin at 731-3535 or email to To learn more about ARC, visit



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