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Dog Walking with BARC Shelter

4 Jul

What: Walking dogs

Where: Brooklyn Animal Resource Coalition (BARC), Williamsburg, through New York Cares

When: Thursday, 6-8pm

So, rule number one in volunteering to walk dogs: Try to avoid torrential downpours. I may have picked the worst day, in the worst 2 weeks of New York weather, to volunteer; however, rain or shine, the dogs need to be walked, so I’m glad I went. When you arrive at BARC in Williamsburg, you’ll be asked to sign in and fill out a waiver form (this only needs to be done your first time there). Once your New York Cares team leader arrives, you’ll split up into pairs and dogs will be brought out one by one. If the small dogs need to be walked, you and your partner will each be given a pooch. However, this shelter is known for having large breed dogs, so its likely that you’ll get a big dog to walk. It is for safety reasons that you’re paired up, in case the dog gets excited and you’re unable to control it; the hope is that between the two of you, there won’t be a problem. I walked a small poodle mix, Sasha, while my partner walked the cutest Jack Russell I’ve ever seen. After that, we were given a large labrador mixed breed named Al, who was the unfortunate dog that got caught in the downpour with us halfway through our walk. He didn’t seem to mind, nor did I, since I picked up a sweet, bright yellow poncho at Jack’s Dollar store on my way to the shelter. Other things to know:

-Dog Walking activities fill up fast on the New York Cares website. Lucky for you, BARC makes it really easy to volunteer directly with them, whenever you want, provided you’re 21 years old and it’s during their walking hours (9am-12pm, 5pm-8pm). Just walk in to the BARC Store (BQE Pet Supply), fill out a waiver and sign in. Check out their website for more information.

– Not a dog person? Not a problem. BARC also houses lots of cats that need to be petted, brushed, and socialized. You can come Tuesday-Saturday, between 12 and 5pm

-This is a great activity for those who can’t seem to find the motivation to get out of Manhattan and into Brooklyn. Williamsburg is a great area full of funky shops and awesome food. You can walk a dog while you check out the neighborhood. It’s a win/win..

-While you’re in the neighborhood, check out the Williamsburg Waterfront; you’ll get a great view of the Manhattan skyline, and you can scope out a spot for one of eight consecutive (and FREE) concerts that will happen summer, starting July 12th, right there on the river. Click here for more details from

-For more dog walking tips, check out my previous post about volunteering at Animal Care and Control.

It's raining cats and dogs...


Dog Walking and Cat Care

7 Apr

Where: Animal Care and Control, Upper East Side/East Harlem

When: Tuesday, 6:30-8:30 pm

Dog walking is one of the more popular listings on New York Cares, and fills up fast every month. Though I went to walk dogs, there were an odd number of people, so I volunteered to split my time with the Cat Care group (also on NY Cares). After being given brief instructions on how to handle the dogs, volunteers will pair off, be given a dog and head outside. You’ll be instructed to walk from 110th to 104th St and back, though you can lengthen or shorten this depending on the weather and how comfortable/uncomfortable your dog looks. You may be allowed to walk a dog solo; it all depends on the team leader you have for that day.

After walking two very cute dogs, I switched over to the cat room. The first 3-5 minutes will be spent acclimating to the overwhelming smell of all things cat. It is a small room with about 15 cats (varies depending on the day) all in separate cages. You’ll tidy the cages and refill food/water as necessary, and then you can play with the cats one by one, sanitizing your hands in between. Most of them were sleeping, but didn’t mind being woken for a scratch; for the most part, you’ll open a cage, pet a cat for a short time, close the cage, & move on to the next.

At some point a cat will poop. It’s inevitable. If you don’t recognize the smell, you’ll know this has happened when all of the volunteers move to one side of the room until someone decides to take one for the team and clean it up. I won’t dwell on the subject, but I thought it was worth sharing, as I found the whole situation quite amusing. Other things to know:

  • Both Dog Walking and Cat Care are a good choice for those looking to meet new people, as you’ll have ample time to talk to fellow volunteers.
  • If you don’t want to talk to new people, then stick with the cats; otherwise you’ll be taking an awkwardly silent walk with your dog-walking partner.
  • Use your judgment: If you’re walking a 5-lb Chihuahua in the dead of winter, don’t go too far unless you’ve brought them a sweater.
  • If you keep trying to pet a cat and it hisses at you relentlessly, move on to the next cage.
  • Bonus: If you take 4 dogs along the designated route, you’ll have walked about 2 miles, which is enough to constitute my daily dose of exercise.