Holly J. - February 2020 Volunteer of the Month

Woman crouched behind a black and white dog
Woman and black and white dog looking at each other

A volunteer since 2017, Holly J. is dedicated to helping shelter dogs find the right matches in her role as an Adoption Information Desk Volunteer.

Learn more about the Volunteer of the Month Program

Holly Loves Dogs

“Have I mentioned that I love dogs?” Holly asked, repeatedly. “Because I do.” Indeed, Holly loves dogs- all of the dogs- a whole lot, especially old dogs. She carries educational flyers about the dangers of leaving dogs in cars to leave under windshield wipers as the temperature rises. “I wouldn’t hesitate to call if it’s too warm,” she adds. In the summer and in the cold of winter, Holly calls utility companies to remind their crews to be on the lookout for pets out in the elements without adequate shelter.

Holly has adopted two dogs from MCAS. The first, a senior pug named Rooty, adopted in 1998, was close to thirteen when adopted. He lived happily with Holly’s other pug for two wonder-filled years. The second, a bouncy Chihuahua, Miniature Pinscher mix named Shorty, adopted in 2000, was a favorite of her eight-year-old son during their visit to the shelter.

Holly wanted to volunteer forever, but there was something about coming to the shelter that stopped her for a long time. She worried about seeing the dogs, feeling bad for them, wanting to take them home. “One day I took the plunge, because it’s not about me, it’s about the dogs.” In the summer of 2017, Holly attended a volunteer information session, had her interview, and she’s been volunteering ever since.

In the beginning, Holly helped with laundry for five months- an extremely important role for the daily operations of the shelter. When the call came for more help at the Adoption Information Desk, Holly was all in.

Changed Perceptions

Now, Holly’s favorite thing about volunteering is seeing the dogs, getting to know their personalities and how different they are. “I love how wrong I was in my perception of pit bulls,” she says. Far from the vicious dogs Holly imagined, she now sees them as smiling, energetic, happy wiggle machines when they go home with their people.

“So many people have such an inaccurate perception of Multnomah County Animal Services,” Holly says. “They really need to come down to see how it is for the animals that are here. Their kennels and bedding are clean. Soft music plays for them over the loudspeakers. They’re warm, safe, and well-fed. They go on walks outside multiple times a day with caring volunteers. When you think about it, that’s more than some of these dogs have ever had.” Still, Holly acknowledges there are opportunities for improvement. “It would be great for the dogs to have bigger spaces, more interaction with grass, and more enrichment opportunities- all those kinds of things.”

Shoulder to Shoulder with Good People

Holly knows that she’s shoulder to shoulder with good people whenever she comes in to volunteer. “All the volunteers are here because they want to be here. It’s great to see how many people care. Thinking about volunteers like Janice T.- Janice is all about the dogs. They are her priority, and if Janice has something to say that she thinks would be beneficial for them, she’s going to say it. The dogs come first.”

Finding the Right Match

Holly loves seeing the dogs go home with new families, especially the senior dogs, and the ones who have waited a long time. “Happy adoption stories are my favorite, I love to see how the dogs are doing in the new home.” Some favorites for Holly include Juan, Rhonda, and Bolt. 

In her role at the Adoption Information Desk, Holly gets to interact with everyone coming in to see the animals. Holly appreciates that most people who come to the shelter have an open mind for the animal they will adopt. Holly’s advice for interested adopters is “first and foremost, to heed the notices about not putting fingers in the kennel- that’s an important safety piece for you and the dogs- and always look to see if the pets you’re considering would be a good fit for your family, your lifestyle, living space, and energy level.” When reviewing adoption applications which capture a lot of that important information, Holly does her best to steer interested adopters towards good potential candidates for a match. She says “behavior in the shelter doesn’t accurately reflect behavior in the home. Attention, training, and the love of a family can change them, and give them confidence.”

Holly is interested in expanding on her volunteer role, and knows there are many different opportunities she could pursue. “The next thing I’d like to do is fostering, or providing hospice for senior dogs.”

Thank you, Holly, for your service to the pets and people of Multnomah County.


What They Say About Holly

“Holly is amazing! She’s so personal and kind and she’s my favorite volunteer at the information desk. I usually save like 15 minutes during my shift to just sit and chat with her. She’s also quite the multi-tasker, helping wherever needed.”

- Stephanie M.

“Holly comes in regularly every Friday to work the info desk and takes her role very seriously. She makes sure she knows all the dogs personally that are on the dog adoption floor. When the public asks her questions about the dogs she is knowledgeable and helps them find the type of pet they are looking for. She is personable, well-informed, and a joy to volunteer with. Holly works well with the dog volunteers and we have a routine that works well for all. At times we don’t have an info desk volunteer which makes it hard for the public and other volunteers but on Fridays we all know that Holly will be there and the public and the dogs will be well-served.”

- Janice T.


February 2020 Nominees

Thank you to our stellar volunteers nominated for the February 2020 Volunteer of the Month!

  • Julie H.
  • Tracy J.
  • Dawn P.
  • Mapsy P.
  • Michael P.
  • Amanda T.
  • Paula Y.