Community Engagement – Volunteer Work

Ever since January of 2016, my first year of High School, I have consistently been volunteering at the animal shelter ARK (Animal Refuge Kansai). Since I have been persistent and been at every adoption fair since 2016 I have gathered up over 200 hours of community service with them. Through this, I have shown a consistent and sustained commitment to helping the organization. I also often have other responsibilities there as I have been there so much I am trusted to take interviews with people who are potential adopters, people who want to foster in the future, and new volunteers. Because I volunteer so often, I have to be able to work well with others. This is because there are other volunteers there too, and we need to work together to make sure the animals are doing ok and that they are not stressed.

This is an important service as animals who are from a shelter usually have high levels of stress, therefore it is good to go and take care of them so they remain healthy as severe stress can come with many health implications. As people in Japan buy animals from pet stores, they often underestimate the amount of time needed to take care of them, and also the training needed. The animals in pet shops often come from puppy mills, and these places keep animals in terrible conditions, small cages and almost no food and care. Once an animal gets bought from a pet store, puppy mills just provide another one, and the cycle continues. For this reason, it is important to make sure the animals in shelters get adopted so that they also have forever loving homes. If the cycle continues the shelters will be overcrowded, and people will throw animals out on the street, and there will be a problem there too. This is already true with cats, the population keeps growing in the stray cat community as many are not spayed or neutered.

This experience has changed me as a person as it has really helped me come out of my shell and become more outgoing, as I used to be a shy person. It has also helped my communication skills a lot, I have pretty bad social anxiety, and because I have been needing to talk with so many new people, as well as being in crowded spaces. This has helped my anxiety as when I expose myself to the situations, I get better at dealing with them, and this is very useful for the future.

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