NORMAN — Friends of the Animals of Norman (FAN) will host their first meeting Thursday, with the intent of helping the Norman Animal Welfare Shelter.
The meeting will be 5:30 p.m. in the multi-purpose room at Norman City Hall. The group encourages animal lovers interested in volunteering, as well as other pet adoption facilities, to attend.
The group’s intention is to bring people with common interests together to brainstorm ideas about setting up a volunteer program for the shelter, said Glenda Peters, a charter member of FAN.
A bond issue that was passed by Norman voters in November 2011 will allow the animal shelter to expand with new construction and renovations. The facility will triple in size. However, a volunteer program will be needed to keep up with the increased number of animals that will need to be taken care of.
“Currently, we’re understaffed,” Animal Welfare Director John Bowman said. “A lot of shelters have huge volunteer programs. I have none.”
Volunteers are needed for many tasks at the shelter, Bowman said. Workers are advised to spend around 10 minutes daily with each dog. Currently, the shelter has 72 dogs — 52 in the stray hold area and 20 dogs in the adoption area.
Bowman said that would mean 720 minutes a day to take care of all of the dogs, which converts into 12 hours. Right now, a part-time person works four of those hours and an officer comes in and helps clean the animals.
Ten minutes allows time to clean the kennels and feed and water each dog, but even that is not really enough, he said. As gross as it may sound, Bowman said animals’ feces also need to be checked for tapeworms or any other sign of disease and to make sure they’re eating properly so they can preventatively treat them.
On top of that, they also need volunteers who have time to interact with the animals and take them for walks to get exercise.
“We’re looking for people interested in coming to the shelter and spending time with animals,” he said.
Animals who do not get socialized and do not get out of the kennel often increase the chances of them having behavioral issues, which makes them less likely to get adopted. When an animal doesn’t get adopted, it ends up getting euthanized.
Another area they are looking for volunteers in is working the reception area. Bowman said they only have one person working at the front who is responsible for taking calls and talking to anyone who comes in the front door at the shelter.
Having only one person at the front makes them miss phone calls when people come in, he said.
“The meeting is to stir excitement about the opportunity of assisting the Norman Animal Welfare Shelter staff in ways they identify, as well as in creative ways volunteers might suggest,” Peters said.
Peters said there is no expectation with regard to time commitment as long as it’s a steady one.
“We don’t want schedules to discourage college students from considering the possibility of joining in this beginning effort,” she said.
The meeting will be casual and everyone is welcome to attend.
“We know there are many people in the Norman area who love animals and would like to share special moments with them. This is their opportunity to help develop a volunteer corps that will really help them feel a sense of purpose,” Peters said.