Editor’s note: Today marks the start of the “Animal Chronicles” column, which will appear every other Sunday in The Daily Gazette. Content is provided by the Animal Protective Foundation in Glenville.

By Joe Lisella

90 years ago, Mrs. Jesse Carpenter and a group of animal-loving volunteers established the Schenectady Animal Welfare Foundation (APF) to provide care and protection for domestic animals.

As we celebrate National Volunteer Appreciation Week (April 17-23), it seems fitting to honor our volunteers, past and present, in the first episode of this weekly column.

From humble beginnings in a garage on Balltown Road, APF grew rapidly in its first two years, leading to moves to the Bellevue area, then Scotia and finally Rotterdam. These first volunteers, equipped with 20 kennels and several cat pens, cared for the animals at the Rotterdam site until 1949.

In December of that year, after a public appeal and several volunteer-coordinated fundraisers, a new shelter opened on Old Alplaus Road (our current location on what is now Maple Avenue).

Our current shelter, inaugurated in 1993, was also built through the work of dedicated volunteers, and nearly 30 years later, our volunteers continue to be the cornerstone of the APF.

“Over 200 active volunteers make all of our work possible,” said Volunteer Manager Hannah Deraway. “Volunteers are involved in all aspects of our organization.

Animals need care 365 days a year, which is why animal care volunteers are essential in protecting animals from disease through daily cleaning and disinfection. They also help with diet, exercise, socialization, and enrichment. This ensures that all animals know they are safe and loved during a very stressful time in their lives.

In addition to our on-site volunteers, dozens of area families welcome APF animals into their own homes.

“As hard as we try to make animals comfortable in the shelter, sometimes there is no substitute for a home,” said Stephanie Johnson, director of operations. “Whether it’s a dog with newborn puppies, a cat recovering from surgery, or a pet that needs a weekend away from the stresses of shelter, our Foster care volunteers are essential to animal welfare.”

“Every time I visit the shelter, I’m amazed at the dedication of the volunteers,” said Otto Zamek, a retired chemist from General Electric, who offered him time as chairman of the board. “Whether they are directly assisting the animals, keeping the pantry organized, preparing surgical kits at the clinic, helping with administrative tasks, or greeting visitors, they always wear a smile and put the animals first.”

Finally, one of the most important groups of our volunteers are those who provide financial support to the APF.

With only around 10% of our funding coming from our shelter fees, their generosity is invaluable in helping hundreds of animals find new homes each year.

On behalf of all animals and the people who love them, thank you to the volunteers for 90 years of inspiration.

If you are interested in volunteering, contact the APF at 518-374-3944 or [email protected]

Joe Lisella is Executive Director of the Animal Protective Foundation, which contributes animal chronicles and welcomes animal-related questions and stories about people and animals in our community. Visit animalprotective.org and follow @AnimalProtectiveFoundation on social media, or email [email protected]

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