Volunteers Are The Backbone Of Animal Welfare: Meet The Purina Cat Chow Volunteer Of The Year

Liz Taranda Purina Cat Chow Shelter Volunteer of the Year

There are more than 12 000 rescue and adoptions organizations in this country and they are primarily run by volunteers who work tirelessly to improve the well being of the pets in their charge. They are undoubtedly the backbone of animal welfare in this country. People like Liz Taranda.

For more than 10 years, she has volunteered thousands of hours toward helping cats at the Clifton Animal Shelter in N.J. feel comfortable while staying at the shelter and find forever homes.

In recognition of her dedication, Taranda has just been named The Purina Cat Chow Shelter Volunteer of the Year, earning the Clifton Animal Shelter in New Jersey a $25 000 makeover.

The idea behind this competition is to thank volunteers like Taranda for their dedication to pets in shelters as they work to make the transition to forever homes less stressful in the shelter environment.

“I’m humbled to be the winner of the Purina Cat Chow Shelter Volunteer of the Year Contest,” said Taranda. “Every cat we care for is important, and we often tell people that by adopting one cat they’re really helping two cats because there’s always another cat that needs a temporary home at the shelter. We have a great group of volunteers at the Clifton Animal Shelter and everyone here works hard to make sure every cat has a calm, comfortable stay with us.”

As part of her work, Taranda interviews and matches potential adopters to cats; ensures the cats are cleaned, fed and socialized; and oversees the medical care of each cat. In addition to caring for the cats, she is also instrumental in motivating fellow volunteers and spearheading the shelter’s annual fundraising efforts.

In order to spotlight shelter volunteers, Purina reached out to its 50 shelter partners – one in every state – to nominate that volunteer, the one who spends countless hours providing additional support to lessen the stress on the cats and kittens in the shelters’ care while they await forever homes. Then it was up to the public to votes and more than 272 000 did.

The renovations at the Clifton Animal Shelter will include front office renovations to improve guests’ and adopters’ experiences at the shelter; improvements to cat visitation areas; new windows for better insulation and ventilation; and fresh paint, furniture and epoxy coating on the floors. The goal of the renovations is to help create a gentler, less chaotic environment for the cats. Purina Cat Chow helped put together a team of volunteers to take charge of the make over.

In addition, four runners-up volunteers each won a $5,000 donation for their respective shelter. Bob Anderson, Cat Adoption Team in Portland, Oregon, Lauren Godail, of Animal Rescue New Orleans in New Orleans, Barrett Henderson, of the Atlanta Humane Society and Desiree Muench, of Hillside SPCA in Pottsville, Pennsylvania.

The Purina Cat Chow Shelter Volunteer of the Year Contest is part of the brand’s Building Better Lives program, an ongoing commitment to help improve the lives of cats through rescue, nutrition and adoption support. Nearly $600,000 has been donated as part of this program to more than 100 local cat-focused shelters nationwide and helped improve the lives of more than 86,000 cats.

I have been fortunate to have an on-going professional relationship with this pet industry leader and am always impressed by the amount of research and time spent “ behind the scenes” to improve the general well being of pets.


Shelters need help in so many ways. Here are some ideas to consider.

Become a Foster Cat Parent.

Fostering is a great way to help a shelter take care of the care in their charge. Kittens that have been fostered are better socialized which makes to make them easier to adopt. The same applies to full-grown cats. They thrive in personal care and are ultimately much easier to place in forever homes.

Putting your Professional Skills and Hobbies to Work

  • Accountant and bookkeepers can volunteer to help keeping financial records
  • Lawyers can offer services to resolve any legal issues
  • Carpenters/painters/handymen are typically welcome to help with regular maintenance to ensure the premises are safe and secure
  • If you are adept at social media, you can help run the group’s Facebook and Twitter accounts
  • Pictures are worth 1 000 words. Photographers are really important to shelter and rescue groups because its been proved that good photographs of pets up for adoption play an important role in finding them the right homes.
  • If you enjoy knitting, a shelter can never have too many blankets or, you can knit items that can be sold to raise money.
  • Help staff the shelter’s charity shop.
  • Showing up to help groom and sped quality time with pets is time well spent too.

To learn more about the program so that you can consider volunteers for next year visit, www.catchow.com/buildingbetterlives.

(This post was sponsored by Purina Cat Show but  they are not responsible for the content  which contains information based on my  personal opinion.)



tip of the day

If you are taking a road trip with your dog, it’s a great idea to add temporary ID tags to his collar giving information about your en route locations over and above your home address.You can use paper tags from an stationery store or there is something new on the market called Twigo tags. Google them!