Photo courtesy of JACQUELINE GARCIA
by EVELYN WONG
Merging her love for animals with a strong desire to serve the community, junior Jacqueline Garcia finds a passion in helping stray and abandoned cats and dogs.
Volunteering at the Petco Adoption Center on weekends from 3 to 8 p.m., Garcia has been associated with the foundation since July.
“I’ve always loved animals, especially dogs and cats, so I wanted to make a difference in something I really care about,” she said.
Viewing the opportunity to work with animals as an intriguing way to spend the summer, Garcia made the decision with a neighborhood friend to volunteer at the adoption center. What began as a single phone call to Petco, however, culminated in her present deeper involvement with the program and its services.
“My friend and I felt that we had been so unproductive since summer vacation began, so we decided to find a place where we could help animals and have fun,” Garcia said. “Little did I know that volunteering would make such a huge difference in our lives.”
As a volunteer for the adoption program at the Petco of Montebello, Garcia interacts with and plays with animals, mostly cats and dogs that have been rescued from the streets. Her duties include cleaning, feeding and cleaning up after the animals.
Garcia also works with orphan cats in the adoption center playroom, where she cares for them by encouraging them to interact more with other animals.
“I usually work with orphans from newborns to 2-year-olds,” she said. “I try my best to get them to be more social with each other, since many may have been through a lot of challenges living on the streets by themselves.”
In addition to caring for stray and abandoned animals, Garcia supports the Petco Foundation by volunteering at bake sales and collecting donations, which are used to fund the center’s rescue organization.
Founded in 1999 to aid in lifesaving animal welfare work across the nation, the Petco Foundation has funded several adoption programs, pet cancer research, service and therapy animals and numerous other initiatives to create a difference in the lives of animals.
“Volunteering at Petco makes me extremely happy because I feel empowered to create change in my community, no matter how small,” Garcia said. “The best—but saddest—part of my time here is watching the animals be adopted and welcomed into new homes.”
Inspired by her experience as a volunteer at the adoption center, Garcia encourages her peers to pursue different opportunities to give back to the community.
“I strongly suggest other people to try to do some volunteer work, because by dedicating just a few hours each week at a local library, animal shelter, nursing home or any other place, anyone can gain new experiences and a sense of accomplishment,” she said.
Motivated by her passion in promoting the cause of the Petco Foundation, Garcia continues to care for the rescued animals until they are ready for adoption.