When Fleur de Lys Healy, 85, lost her cat Motor five years ago, she was devastated. To try to find him, Healy began visiting the Orange County Animal Services (OCAS) shelter at least once a week, every week. He left the house one night and disappeared, and she hasn’t seen him since.
Although Motor hasn’t been found, Healy has become a regular volunteer at the shelter, usually spending her time comforting caged cats and urging other shelter visitors to take one home.
“They’re really special animals,” Healy said of cats. “They’re clean, cuddly, warm and friendly, as well as low-maintenance, protective and smart.”
Healy, who is known to her shelter friends as “Grandma,” is the oldest volunteer in the history of OCAS. So far she has logged more than 800 volunteer hours, and she is totally committed to helping get as many of these animals adopted as she can.
“Volunteers like Grandma can really draw a cat out of its shell,” said Diane Summers, OCAS Program Manager, who admits that cats tend to appear more scared and timid in their shelter cages than dogs. “To know that she’s doing this out of the goodness of her heart is amazing, and she’s really effective at getting shelter visitors to notice how adorable and adoptable the animals are.”
Grandma hopes that Motor, who would be 16 now, found another loving family to take care of him. She feels the same way about every cat that winds up at the shelter. “I want every single one of them to find a home,” she said. “They all deserve it.”
Orange County welcomes volunteers 16 years and older to OCAS. Healy, who was born in 1930, is the oldest OCAS volunteer at 85. OCAS currently has 388 active volunteers and is always looking for kind-hearted, nurturing individuals who want to help pets find forever homes.
If you’re interested in volunteering at Orange County Animal Services, fill out an application. After a short orientation and animal handling training, you can begin your volunteer work by helping potential adopters interact with the cats and dogs, greeting people at the front desk, assisting at offsite adoption events, or helping take photos of the shelter pets.