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For Jaelyn Friesen, a life-long love of animals has evolved into a volunteer role at the Winnipeg Humane Society.

A Grade 12 student enrolled in carpentry at Murdoch MacKay Collegiate in Winnipeg, Jaelyn grew up with pet gerbils. “I really liked having the gerbils,” she said, smiling. “They were nice with me and they enjoyed cuddling. They’re very affectionate. One would escape from its enclosure and it would come and find us.”

At the age of 11, she got her first dog. Now she and her family have two small dogs – a Poodle and a Shih Tzu.

On weekends Jaelyn diversifies her animal fix with a shift at the WHS as a Maintenance Assistant, where she cleans the windows on the dog pods and cat condos. It’s important to clearly see the dogs and cats in their enclosures – and one would think they like seeing the people visiting as well.

The job is fun, Jaelyn suggested, especially because it comes with a fringe benefit of meeting all the cats and dogs. And interacting with them a bit, as time permits. Sometimes she feels she wouldn’t see some animals for so many weeks in a row.

“I see some of the animals a few times from one week to the next,” she explained. “They’re nice animals but it’s a bit sad. They’re still here because they’re not adopted yet. It sucks to keep on seeing them there, week after week. But you know that eventually they’ll find a new home where they will be cared for.”

Like so many other Winnipeg Humane Society volunteers, Jaelyn credits this long-standing love for animals for serving as an incentive to volunteer with the WHS. “I really liked animals since I was young,” she explained. “Late in 2021 I needed something to do, so I visited and signed up. I started in January, 2022.”

She enjoys her volunteer role, and can see herself taking on other responsibilities in the future. “I want to do more stuff once I get my license so I can drive here myself,” she said. Living in Transcona means a long bus ride to the shelter, so she needs a lift from someone to get to her shifts currently.

Once she’s able to drive herself, Jaelyn could see herself helping out with special events. And if she were to take on another role with a regular shift, she’s “Interested in possibly being a dog walker in the future – that sounds like fun.”

The future holds a great deal in store for Jaelyn. In addition to getting her license, she’ll finish high school soon and will be entering Red River College to take courses in cabinet making or carpentry.

And she feels like she has a future with the Winnipeg Humane Society. She enjoys interacting with the animals and “The staff and other volunteers are very nice. They’re super helpful.”


Written by: Brian Kozak, Volunteer MVP Writer
Photo by: Jim Harvey, Volunteer MVP Photographer

A group of volunteers founded the Winnipeg Humane Society in 1894 and are vital to our success today! With the help of volunteers, we can provide care, love and attention to our four (and sometimes two) legged friends until they find their forever homes. The MVP (Monthly Volunteer Profile) recognizes the work and gets to know these special MVP’s in a spotlight each month that includes an article and photo shoot. MVPs receive a framed photo and gift card as our thanks!

Is there a volunteer you’d like to nominate to be MVP? E-mail us ([email protected]) and tell us why you think they should be an MVP!