Young Students Want to Work for an Animal Shelter When They Grow Up

Olivia, a seventh-grade student from Lake View Academy in Saratoga Springs, has always loved animals. This is why she chose to come to the Humane Society of Utah’s Pet Resource Center in Murray to complete her job shadow assignment for her Career Technical Education class. The project required students to shadow a professional working in a field they are interested in learning more about. With her, Olivia brought two other students from her CTE class, Nixon and Lizzy, and her niece, Zoey, because, like Olivia, they all love animals, too. Lizzy said she chose to come to an animal shelter because she “really wants to be a veterinarian when I grow up.”  

The assignment

For the assignment, the students were given a tour of the facility and educated on the types of medical procedures we provide for animals in need and how we save lives by transferring in pets from overcrowded shelters in Utah and other states. The students also learned how to read animal stress signals and why it’s essential to go slow with pets when meeting them for the first time. They also interacted with our Humane Education animals, including our two curious bunnies, Otis and Murray, and our fun-loving ferrets, Milton and Nellie. As the kids filled out a questionnaire for their teacher on their experience and what they learned from it, Otis and Murray came to investigate as Milton and Nellie played enthusiastically nearby. 

“The ferrets are my favorite. They’re so friendly and cute!” Olivia shared, and the others nodded in agreement. Olivia added that coming to HSU helped her to better understand bunnies and “why it’s important to be careful when handling them because they’re so sensitive and fragile.” Nixon said the thing he learned most is that “ferrets are very stinky.” As for Zoey, she enjoyed cuddling with and reading to the cats in Kitty City. Looking hopeful, Lizzy shared, “Now that I’ve spent some time here, I really do think I want to work with animals in the future. They are all so special. I want to help the Humane Society take care of them one day.”

What’s in a Name? Pet Resource Center: Part 2

In our last blog post entitled ‘What’s in a Name? Pet Resource Center’, we explained why we’re no longer referring to ourselves as an “animal shelter” and are now calling ourselves a “Pet Resource Center.” This follow-up post will expand on why the Humane Society of Utah has adopted this new model by showcasing the educational services we provide through behavior and humane education.

Humane Education

At HSU, we believe that educating younger generations is the key to ensuring better lives for animals in the future. We support this belief by providing education sessions for schools and community groups at no cost. Our colorful and thought-provoking presentations are for youth from preschool to senior high. We cover age-appropriate topics from basic pet care to complex ethical and moral issues. No matter the age group, participants are taught the importance of proper pet care, spaying/neutering to control the pet population, choosing adoption first, and how to appropriately interact with animals. Teachers can schedule field trips to our shelter to meet and learn about our humane education animals and tour our center. 

Young Boy in Kitty City


HSU also offers a H.E.R.O. Summer, Fall, and Spring Camp for children ages first through sixth grade at our Pet Resource Center. During a typical day at our week-long H.E.R.O. (Humane Educators Reaching Out) Camp, children participate in age-appropriate humane education workshops, presentations, games, and more. Workshops focus on different types of animals each day, many with visitors – two-legged, four-legged, finned, and feathered – from other animal welfare groups in Utah. Our education services are in constant demand throughout the Wasatch Front and beyond. In 2021, our Humane Education Program reached 10,226 children – a 37% increase from 2020.

Behavior and Training

Since many pet guardians experience behavioral issues that can create challenging problems and these frustrations can lead guardians to consider rehoming their pet, our Pet Resource Center offers adopters the opportunity to meet with our certified trainers at no cost. 

Dog training class at Humane Society of Utah

Our behavior staff are all certified trainers and regularly participate in continuing education to ensure they are familiar with the latest understanding and best practices on animal behavior. Our trainers are committed to a behavior program based on positive reinforcement and only use humane training techniques utilizing evidence-based learning theories. We know that committing to positive reinforcement helps us build trusting relationships with animals while effectively meeting our training goals. And we feel it is our responsibility to provide the most effective training options for our community.

Volunteer Spotlight: Meet Kennedy

HSU volunteer Kennedy reads a book to an adoptable cat.

Kennedy is a sweet-spirited eight-year-old who’s been volunteering for the Humane Society of Utah’s Pet Resource Center in Murray since January 2022. She comes to our center weekly to help out where she can: reading books to our homeless cats or socializing with the bunnies, ferrets, and rats in our Humane Education Program. Usually, when Kennedy arrives for her shift, she’s wearing a pair of leggings decorated with cat faces or sparkly animal ears on the top of her head, or both. This month is National Volunteer Month—a month dedicated to recognizing the importance of volunteers like Kennedy and honoring their significant contributions by generously donating their time and talents to worthy causes.

For as long as she can remember, Kennedy has had a deep love and appreciation for animals, especially cats. Reading to our cats through our kid-oriented Happy Tales Reading Program is her favorite thing to do. “I like reading the book, ‘Are You My Mother’ by Dr. Seuss the most because it’s really cute. The cats seem to like it, too. When I read to them, they’ll lay beside me and get comfortable, or sometimes they’ll fall asleep!” She explains with a laugh. 



Kennedy’s Dream

Kennedy’s dream is to learn how to care for all types of pets and support as many as she can in her lifetime. She says she’s volunteering at HSU in hopes of working for us when she’s older. Since Kennedy is only eight years old, her mom, Brittany, accompanies her during her volunteer shifts. Brittany is happy to support her daughter’s dreams and desires to give back. “Most kids her age aren’t that into volunteering. But I think it’s beneficial for them to learn the value of volunteering early on so they can see the importance of being a part of a greater good,” Brittany explains.


April is National Volunteer Month

At HSU, we depend on our volunteers for many critical tasks, such as providing direct animal and staff support, assisting in fundraising efforts and events, and so much more. Our volunteer opportunities allow individuals and families to work side-by-side with our staff as we work to save the lives of more than 7,000 homeless pets each year. In 2021, we had 496 volunteers donate a total of 11,740 hours, which saved our organization an estimated $152,620 in costs. 

HSU’s Foster and Volunteer Manager, Jolie Gordon, states, “To say we can’t do what we do without our volunteers is an understatement. We are so grateful.” Jolie adds that recruiting young volunteers helps them foster a lifelong commitment to helping their community. “As young people grow older and into more power to act on that commitment, imagine the change they’ll be able to create. Not to mention, young volunteers often bring a fresh perspective, passion, and energy to our organization. They tend to be more open to new ideas, meaning they can help drive positive change and create new opportunities for improvement.”

To learn more about HSU’s volunteer program and opportunities, click here.