Emma McLeod grew up around furry friends and developed a strong connection and love for each and every one of them.
But three years ago, after Emma sadly realised owning a pet was no longer an option, she decided to volunteer at the RSPCA.
“When I had moved out and was living in my rental with a friend, we weren’t able to have pets,” Emma said.
“I started feeling a little bit of a void. I thought volunteering my Saturday mornings for a few hours to walk the dogs would be a good way to have that interaction with animals, but also give back to my community.
“My love of animals was just a no brainer for me. I thought RSPCA was perfect and I felt like it’s not just me giving back to them, but it’s such an amazing way to spend your weekends and a really nice feeling.”
Emma encouraged more people to put their hand up to volunteer.
“I say just do it, it’s such a rewarding experience,” she said. “It’s such a nice feeling to be out there, especially with a dog who might have been surrendered or was unwanted for some reason.
“I think that’s really special to just be able to spend that one-on-one time with animals.
“Slowing down and spending time on things that really matter and giving back to the community is really important and it’s the best. I couldn’t imagine my life without doing it.”
RSPCA ACT always has large numbers of cats and kittens in care, and desperately needs more volunteers and foster carers to hop on board and help look after them.
The society gives foster carers all the supplies, food, litter, enrichment, vet treatments and bedding they need to look after the animals – so there’s no cost.
After her circumstances changed, Emma began fostering two years ago and recently delivered her 50th foster kitten.
“Over the past few years we’ve had extended seasons where kittens have continued to breed,” she said.
“The average amount in a litter is four or five kittens, which includes any stray cat that’s out on the street, or hasn’t been desexed. A lot of kittens have just been dumped.
“The sooner they’re taken into the care of the RSPCA and fostered, the sooner they can be socialised and taken care of.”
Emma said anyone over 18 could apply on the RSPCA website to become a volunteer or foster carer.
“There is an expression of interest form on the website. Once that is filled out, they run a training program,” she said.
“This is where they take you through the ins and outs of how to take care of a cat and how to provide a supportive environment for the kittens. They cover all bases and provide you with everything you need, including tons of food, kitty litter and toys.
“It’s a really easy process [to become a volunteer or foster carer], and everyone involved is transparent with what’s happening and on call all the time. You can contact anyone from the RSPCA for help if you’re ever stuck.”
Emma said although the RSPCA had many volunteers, more were needed.
“There’s so many animals in need, and they need attention – so the more the better.
“In the colder months, it’s not as nice to be outside. But there’s a lot of loyal volunteers who stick around and are out there every week.
“There are endless ways you can support. You don’t necessarily need to support your time. And it’s a really worthy cause that helps us take care of the animals as best we can.”
To become a volunteer or foster carer, visit RSPCA.