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Volunteer Is a Mother to Mutts

Carla White considers herself a mother of two, though she technically has just one child. "I have my human son, and Pudgy is my daughter," she says of her 15-year-old dog, a "classic American mutt." "I love my Pudgy."

Carla adopted her prized pet at Stamford Animal Shelter on Magee Avenue 11 years ago. Then, about nine years later, she went back–this time to work as a volunteer. "My son went to college," says Carla, who soon found that her day job (as an office manager at The Women's Club in Greenwich) wasn't enough to distract her from a burgeoning case of empty-nest syndrome.

"I did take a little while to enjoy my free time, but then I decided to get involved here," she says. Carla is one of around 200 volunteers, at her estimate, but not every helper volunteers to the same capacity.

"We have some people who mostly come out for special events, then we have the core group that does everything," she says. "And not just the glamorous stuff, like taking the dogs for walks. These people really get in there and roll up their sleeves, clean the cat cages, do whatever needs to be done."

Carla's pet project (pardon the pun) is the OPIN (Outreach to Pets in Need, Inc.) and Stamford Animal Care and Control's "Pound Around Town," an outreach program that involves various public places with a display highlighting current animals up for adoption.

"We want more people to know about what we do here, especially that we're a 'no kill' shelter," says Carla. "Some of our animals have been with us for years and years."

The "pie in the sky" goal, as Carla puts it, is to raise enough funds to open a larger facility, one with a visiting room where people could spend one-on-one time with prospective adoptees.

"The way it is now, somebody walks in and all the dogs start barking like crazy. It can be kind of intimidating for people," she says. "But that animal you see in the cage isn't the animal you would have at home–they have what we call 'shelter shock.'

"But when you match up the right owner with the right animal, it's really wonderful."

We're sure Pudgy would agree.

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