By: Miranda Ewing, Director of Volunteer Services

PHOTO: SPCA volunteers Linda & Collin Smith

For January 2022, the SPCA Albrecht Center recognizes volunteers Linda and Collin Smith. This mother and son team started volunteering in July 2021 and immediately began supporting the shelter animals through socialization. When asked what makes volunteering with the SPCA enjoyable Linda says, “We love getting to know the animals and knowing we were part of their journey in finding their forever home.”

Collin just turned 16 years old and wants to learn more about animal behavior while volunteering with the SPCA. Both lent a hand with last summer’s Pups n Suds dog wash fundraiser. It was a particularly hot and humid day, and everyone had a good laugh when Linda was soaked along with the pets thanks to fellow volunteer Billie’s broad aim with the sprayer.

Fellow volunteers have praised Linda’s and Collin’s volunteer efforts with an activity called “Read and Relax.” In the Dog Adoption area, each shelter dog is given a room to stay in and trained volunteers come to visit the dog inside their room. These visits have a purpose – to provide social and mental support for the dog.

“Read and Relax” was developed by the Animal Refuge League of Greater Portland in Westbrook, Maine, and the shelter dogs at the SPCA benefit from the activity in many ways. When a volunteer is being a calm presence for the dog, this will help make his/her time in the shelter less stressful. Linda and Collin have experienced this firsthand with shelter dog, Regan.

Regan has been with the SPCA since February 2021 when he was transferred from an overcrowded upstate SC shelter. He is a very shy, 3-year-old, large mixed breed, and he was nervous during the first few visits from Linda and Collin. As Linda and Collin have been trained how to be a calm and encouraging presence to the shelter dogs, eventually Regan became more comfortable.

Now Linda says, “He’s gone from pacing while we’re in there, to excitedly spinning in circles when he sees us at the door.”

Regan even warmed up to taking treats from their hand as well as napping in his Kuranda bed while Linda and Collin read quietly. All of these positive behaviors are victories for Regan and the volunteer team as we continue to look for Regan’s forever family.

Linda’s and Collin’s family includes a one-eyed pit-bull mix named Minion, Kaa the snake, and a hamster named Charlie. At home, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree as both are avid readers. No wonder “Read and Relax” is such a great fit for these two volunteers! Linda is a book reviewer who is contacted by publishers, publicists, and authors to read their books and post an honest review on her blog and social media accounts. Collin’s favorite genres are fantasy and dystopian novels, but he loves reading a variety of books.

The SPCA is so grateful to Linda and Collin for helping our homeless pets find comfort and support while waiting for adoption!

Miranda Ewing joined the team at the SPCA Albrecht Center for Animal Welfare in February 2020. She has committed her life to volunteering and fostering homeless animals and believes the strength of a community shines when we can lean on each other. A 2012-2013 AmeriCorps alumni and Rescue Volunteer for Team Stinkykiss (a local CSRA animal rescue), she is an advocate for all animals and all people! Her family includes her husband, who knows all critters may find a temporary home with him (even if he’s allergic to some).

The SPCA Albrecht Center for Animal Welfare is a private, nonprofit, no kill animal shelter in Aiken, SC. The SPCA also operates a local Thrift Store (“Where Shopping Saves Lives”), a public, affordable Veterinary Care Center & a Dog Park. It is our mission to improve the lives of companion animals by rehoming abused, abandoned, and neglected pets while fighting for their well-being through vigorous legislative efforts, humane education, and by offering affordable veterinary care for all.