Pet-loving students volunteer at local animal shelter

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The first time senior Anisa Williams witnessed a dog surgery, she was shocked.

“I thought, ‘I don’t know if I have the stomach for this,’ but you get acclimated to it, and it really is an awesome experience,” Williams said.

Since she was in eighth grade, Williams has volunteered at the Hospital Center of the Brandywine Valley SPCA, or Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, alongside seniors Takshil Chittuluru and Sophie Kim.

When Kim first started volunteering at the animal shelter, she began to recognize some of her prejudices against “aggressive dogs.” 

“I’m going to be honest, I always had certain types of dogs that I liked, such as smaller dogs and golden retrievers. But after going to the SPCA and taking care of these puppies, I realized that all dogs just truly need our love,” Kim said.

One particular pit bull mix named Bear changed the perspectives of Chittuluru and Kim.

“He’s a huge dog. I thought that because he was insanely big that he would be aggressive, but he was one of the sweetest dogs that I ever met,” Kim said.

Additionally, Chittuluru explains that the “rough and excitable” stereotype about many dogs stems from the way they are raised and that they can later be trained to act “friendlier.”

“All dogs are loving and can be loving given the right trust in people. And just looking at Bear, you wouldn’t want to spend a lot of time with him, but because of that trust, he was a sweet dog,” Chittuluru said.

Kim, Williams and Chittuluru explain that their main goal is to increase adoptions. Chittuluru states that since the majority of people obtain their dogs from breeders, animals in shelters are often left behind. At the shelter, Kim and Chittuluru help conduct a “playgroup” for the dogs to socialize and take the dogs out on walks to train them for prospective customers. 

“A lot of dogs don’t get out of their kennels, and I think it’s important for them to be taken out for their mental health. I think we need to realize that dogs also experience emotions such as depression,” Chittuluru said.

In addition to watching surgeries and completing menial tasks such as laundry at the hospital center, Williams says the most enjoyable aspect of her job is playing with kittens. However, she explains that there is a “sad or gruesome side” to volunteering that made her “appreciate what the people do there” when she witnessed the termination of a cat’s pregnancy.

“When you are responsible for putting down kittens that could have had a fighting chance only a couple of days later, it is really difficult, but it does also show you how life works and what people have to go through,” Williams said. 

Kim also made the decision to foster a newly born pit bull-lab mix named Hope. Kim states that at first, she struggled with getting too attached. 

“It was really hard when I let go of Hope for me and my mom. But now I have the mentality that my priority is to get them adopted into a loving home, and that’s how I maintain some distance,” Kim said.

Additionally, Kim states that for future endeavors in helping dogs, she joined the campaign to ban the dog meat industry in Korea.

“The main reason I’m so passionate in helping these dogs is because they provide unconditional love. The dogs don’t have a voice themselves, (so) I want to be a voice that helps them,” Kim said.