Marines volunteer at no-kill animal shelter in Ishikawa Village
Marines with Camp Courtney and Foster Single Marine Programs volunteered at a no-kill animal shelter Sept. 14 in Ishikawa City, Okinawa. The Marines helped by taking the dogs out for their daily morning walk.
The no-kill shelter Animal Garden is managed by Cherubims, one of the largest and oldest nonprofit animal welfare and rescue organization in Okinawa that started in 1997. The organization cares for total of around 70 dogs and 450 cats in all four facilities across the island. The shelter located in Ishikawa City is the only property that houses dogs.
“I really enjoyed taking the dogs out for a walk,” said Pfc. Carlie Kretchmar, a current operations clerk with Marine Wing Headquarters Squadron 1, who volunteered for the first time. “I like that this is a no-kill shelter. Older dogs and disabled dogs have a chance to live here and enjoy company. I hope to come back again and volunteer.”
Some tasks the volunteers do at the shelter are walking and washing dogs, mowing dog runs, weeding around the shelter, replacing sand in the dog runs, and patching potholes around the shelter. Having volunteers maintaining grounds and facility, and walking dogs have been a significant help for the shelter, according to a staff member working at Animal Garden.
“With limited resources, the staff makes an incredible effort on a daily basis to meet the needs of all the animals,” said Payal Shah, the volunteer coordinator at the Animal Garden, who has been volunteering with the shelter for six years with her husband. “Having volunteers at the shelter has had a very positive effect both on the animals and the shelter staff and we are really grateful for all their help.”
While shelters provide loving and caring environment while the animals wait for their forever homes, Cherubims operates largely on donations.
“One of our main motives in joining the shelter is to help boost the visibility of the shelter to increase their adoption rates and to raise more donations,” said Shah.
These volunteer activities provide great opportunities for service members to interact with their local neighbors which can include four-legged friends and join the cause of sharing awareness of animal welfare.
“I wanted to go out and do something meaningful,” said Sgt. Ryo Ishimaru, a future operations non-commissioned officer with III Marine Expeditionary Force, who has been volunteering over a year. “I saw this as an opportunity to get out of the barracks to do something that’s actually helping and making a difference in lives of animal. Everything you do for the place, you see the difference you’re making. Not just for the animals, but for the employees that work there too.”
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