SPCA volunteer judged top dog

SPCA Masterton’s Katie Story was recognized in recognition of her volunteer work. PHOTO / DELIVERED

TOM TAYLOR
tom.taylor@age.co.nz

Animal lover Katie Storey won an award for her commitment to endangered cats and kittens.

Storey, an SPCA volunteer, won the charity’s Outstanding Young Volunteer Award, announced during National Volunteer Week last week.

“I knew I was nominated but I didn’t think I would win everyone in New Zealand,” said Storey. “It was a little crazy.”

Rachel Norman, director of animal care at SPCA Masterton, said Storey deserved the award.

“Katie will do anything: keep the place clean, interact with animals, organize things.”

The 20-year-old volunteered at the Masterton Center every Sunday.

Storey often took on the additional responsibility of training new volunteers.

Norman said the volunteers needed to ingest a lot of information in a short amount of time, and Storey would help them by setting a good example.

“When we have someone like Katie who knows how everything works, we know we can put them on a job and it’ll get done.”

Storey had limited time to volunteer outside of her main job at a honey factory in Masterton.

However, she planned to return to the industry she loved at some point.

“I definitely want my career to be in the animal care industry and hopefully work with animals in need.”

One option she considered was working in animal control. She often paused and called the shelter when she saw stray dogs wandering around.

“It would only break my heart to leave her there. If it were someone’s loving little pet like mine, I couldn’t live with myself if something happened to that dog. “

She had adopted her own dog, Cara, from the SPCA in 2018.

“Actually, she inspired me to pursue a career in animal care. As I adopted her and learned more and more about her, I realized that I wanted to know everything about her. “

That urge had prompted Storey to drop out of Wairarapa College at the end of 12th grade to begin studying animal care.

She began working as an intern at the SPCA in 2019 while completing her Level 3 Certificate in Animal Care from UCOL Masterton.

When Storey finished her allotted hours, she stayed close.

“Somehow I never went away – I just carried on.”

After completing the Level 3 course, Storey completed a Level 5 Certificate in Animal Technology [Vet Nursing Assistant] on the WelTec campus Porirua.

The advanced certificate taught students how to maintain animal health in a veterinary clinic, help with surgery prep and anesthesia, and help with routine diagnostic procedures.

Storey said she would leave the option open to become a vet nurse, but she preferred to work with rescue animals.

She often took her work home with her and looked after up to seven kittens at a time.

Briar Marbeck, senior advisor on external communications at SPCA, said Storey’s work with these kittens was what impressed the centre’s staff the most.

“Katie always shows great care and patience, especially when dealing with shy cats, which can be more difficult to deal with,” said Marbeck.

Some of the kittens Storey looked after had to be bottle-fed around the clock; others who were sick had to be constantly monitored.

“When Katie brings the kittens she cares back to the center, they are always well socialized, friendly, healthy and ready to find their new home,” said Marbeck.

SPCA executive director Andrea Midgen said the charity couldn’t function without volunteers like Storey. Across the organization, there were more than 10 volunteers for every employee.

“Our volunteers are really the heart of SPCA, and if they weren’t for them, we couldn’t help the number of animals we do each year,” said Midgen.

Staff and volunteers across New Zealand had nominated 143 of their outstanding volunteers for the awards. A jury made up of Purina and SPCA employees then assessed the nominations.

The winners of each of the six categories received an annual supply of pet food and an espresso machine valued at $ 600.