I became a volunteer at the Sanctuary in June 2022.  I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to undertake work placement for my university course, which means I am volunteering Monday to Friday from 9am-5pm for 16 weeks.

Volunteering at Mid Antrim Animal Sanctuary has been amazing!  The environment is always so positive and welcoming.  The staff team are all friendly, patient and always willing to help and the other volunteers are too.

I have learnt a lot about socialising cats and dogs as well as being able to read their body language and behaviours.  I have had the opportunity to interact with many different breeds, and many different ages (including puppies and kittens!) – each week brings new cats and dogs and new challenges, so the experience is never boring.

Whilst at the Sanctuary, I undertake tasks such as cleaning the cattery and kennels, which may not seem fun, but the staff are always cracking jokes and making me laugh.  I get to walk dogs and play with them, including snuggles in kennels, never ending games of fetch and of course lots of treats.  The dogs are always eager to go for a walk and it’s always very rewarding when you can bond with a dog and watch their excitement when they see you coming.

If dogs aren’t your thing, there is always plenty of work to do in the cattery.  After the morning clean is completed, the cats are always up for some socialisation and play time and they are all so friendly and sweet.  Each cat has their own unique personality and character which can make for lots of laughs.  Prior to starting my placement, I did not have a lot of experience with cats as we’ve always been a dog family but Avril and the regular volunteers were excellent in supporting me and I now enjoy working with cats a lot more.  If you like cats and dogs, you are able to do both here at the Sanctuary, and I would recommend this as the cattery is always nice and cosy for those wintery days.

One of the things I enjoy the most about volunteering is being able to see the difference in the dogs from when they come in to when they find their ‘forever homes’.  Being able to watch a nervous dog go to a friendly, cuddly dog is so rewarding for both the dedicated staff and the volunteers should be very proud of this.

As cheesy as it sounds, volunteering has impacted me a lot and I wish I had started sooner. It has boosted my confidence and given me the opportunity to meet new people who have a similar love for animals.  It has given me something to do over the summer and of course benefits my course.  Most importantly though, it has helped my mental health.  I think everyone can attest to the loneliness and caged feelings brought on by the pandemic. I struggled a lot with socialising prior to the pandemic and being cooped in the house for almost two years worsened this.  However, volunteering has allowed me to meet new people who were so kind and understanding as well as allowing me to interact with animals which always boosts my mood.

I would recommend volunteering at Mid Antrim Animal Sanctuary to anyone with an interest in animals, anyone who is shy and wants to boost their confidence a little, or even for people who just want to get out of the house.

My time at the Sanctuary has been amazing, and I will continue to volunteer even after my placement is completed.