November 2016 MVP: Nikki Zloty
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) will recognize the work and get to know these special MVP’s in a spotlight each month that includes an article and photo shoot. MVPs will receive a framed photo and gift card as our thanks!
MVP is a volunteer-driven project with articles by Brian Kozak/Glen Dawkins and pictures by Jim Harvey.
November 2016 MVP: Nikki Zloty
When Nikki Zloty retired after 33 years working with the Hudson’s Bay Company in 2007, she decided she needed something to keep herself occupied. With the Winnipeg Humane Society facility just 10 minutes away from her home, volunteering there seemed like a perfect fit.
“Even though I retired, my brain didn’t stop working,” she said. “I needed something to keep me busy.”
Nikki started volunteering in 2008. In the beginning, she worked one Monday a week as a cat cuddler and one Thursday a month with the pet visitation program.
Later, they were looking for volunteers for the gift shop and with her background in human resources and retail, Nikki thought that would be a good fit for her.
“I thought that might be another fun thing as well as helping in the shelter,” she said.
Since then, her volunteer experience has expanded to include working in the Meet Your Match program performing cat assessments as well as helping with the Bow Wow Ball and Paws in Motion fundraisers. In all, she has amassed over 3,400 hours of service.
Of all her jobs, Nikki has found her work as a cat assessor to be particularly satisfying.
“(The process) puts them into a category so that when people are coming for adoptions it gives them a little insight into what the cat’s behaviour might be when they take them home,” she said. “I think that program has really helped in settling the animals into their new homes and cut back on people bringing cats back when they thought this was a really friendly cat and (now) it wants to stay under my bed all day long.
“I really enjoyed that part of my involvement here. You feel like you’re getting the cat on the first step to its fur-ever home.”
Continuing her work in the gift shop has the added benefit of allowing her to see a cat from assessment all the way to being adopted.
“If I happen to be in the gift shop the day that cat is being adopted, you feel proud that you’ve been part of this cat’s journey through the shelter process,” she said. “You see them go home with this family with excited kids. It’s really rewarding. You feel that you’re contributing in a big way.”
In the gift shop, Nikki finds that people love to talk about their pets, sharing the happy stories as well as the sad ones and sharing the tears.
“You want to let them talk and maybe you’ll see them again when they decided it’s time to bring home another animal,” she said.
Her work as a cat assessor has also helped her better understand her own two cats – both adopted from the Humane Society – giving her insights into animal behaviour.
“She is always positive, will help wherever and whenever you need her to (even coming in at 8 a.m. to help with inventory), and brightens the day of everyone she meets,” said gift shop staff member Rebecca Marcoux in nominating Nikki as an MVP.
Through her various volunteer duties, Nikki estimates she’s at the Humane Society for four shifts a week for a few hours a day.
“It’s become a new part-time job for me,” she joked. “There’s just no pay involved.”