Featured Volunteers

Pilar Bydalek

2014 Volunteer of the Year Award Winner

Pilar joined our volunteer crew in May of 2011 when one day she decided she needed to do something good, something that would make a difference to others, no matter how hard it may be. Her dog Jazz taught her how to love an animal, showed her that dogs are just like us and crave love. When she realized there was a shelter so close to home, she just knew she needed to do more. And boy are we lucky to have her!

She says her favorite part of volunteering is “Seeing a dog blossom. So many dogs come in with a not so great past. Watching them grow and learn to love is the best. Seeing them go into their forever home is the ultimate goal and what makes us all so happy. I've fostered some needy dogs that now have their forever home all because I decided to volunteer. I now have 2 amazing pits from Lakeland who remind me every day why I am fighting for the breed and all of the dogs that deserve a second chance.”

She says her current favorite is Blu. “I spend a lot of time with him and love him so much, but I walk them all, so I guess they're all my favorite!” Her favorite quote is “Saving one dog will not change the world, but for that one dog their world will forever be changed.”

Sheila Thomas

2014 Constant Companion Award Winner

Sheila joined our 9Lives Boutique crew in April 2013 after she founded an animal shelter when she lived in the Caribbean. When she moved here, she wanted to continue the work. Sheila is a wonderful volunteer that dedicates many days a week to the 9Lives Boutique. She loves animals and loves interacting with other dog lovers!

Her least favorite part of volunteering at the Boutique is when she volunteers with Mary Ann and she dusts! She’s allergic to dust! Sheila enjoys the Boxer breed and loves the quote “You can’t change the wind, but you can always trim your sails.”



Jean Abrams

2014 Faithful Companion Award Winner

Jean joined our volunteer group in November of 2012 when she saw a need for volunteers in our adoption center in Madison at PetSmart. After helping start a successful program at PetSmart on the west side for Jefferson County Humane Society, Jean contacted us with the idea for the east side, and the program has been a hit ever since!

Jean helps coordinate schedules, meets and trains new volunteers to spend their quality time in the adoption center playing with, socializing and cleaning up after the cats so they could get some time out of their cages. She started volunteering because “A socialized cat will get adopted faster than a cat left to languish in a cage. This is not a difficult task.”

She enjoys educating cat room visitors and especially their children, on the urgency of spaying and neutering. Her favorite animal is “the cat that is always the long-term resident who is overlooked and ultimately gets adopted into a wonderful home.” Jean loves the quote “I can't change the whole world, just my corner of it.”

Amy Amann

2013 Volunteer of the Year Award Winner

Amy started volunteering approximately 6 years ago to honor her dog Mandy, and from that time forward she has been a wonderful addition to our Shelter family.

When asked why she started volunteering, Amy said, "the unconditional love that my dog Mandy gives to me every day has been life changing. It made me sad to think that there are dogs who didn't have homes, toys, beds or a family to love them. Mandy made me want to be a better person and give back to others that which she has given to me."

"Knowing that I make a difference in the lives of the dogs I work with is my favorite part of volunteering, but it can be emotionally taxing on my heart when I see how long they must wait to find a family." Amy has been instrumental in the training and adoption of many of our "hard to place" dogs and her current favorite "student dog" is Ivy, an 8 year old American Bulldog. Ivy loves affection and loves hearing that she is a "good girl" more than she loves food! Amy's favorite quote is "I am only one, but I AM one. I will not let what I cannot do interfere with what I CAN do."

Pat Cameron

2013 Volunteer of the Year Award Winner

In 2005, Lakeland welcomed Pat as a volunteer, and her specialty was cats. Having cats her whole life, Pat found herself with open arms that needed filling after the passing of her last two cats at ages 17 & 18. She knew that she would not be able to adopt because of her work schedule, but she wanted to help homeless cats by giving them love so they would become more social and adoptable as a result.

Pat says that her favorite part of volunteering is the time spent working with the animals; it's rewarding to feel like you are making their lives better during their transition from one home to another. "I also like helping to educate the public about the mission of the Shelter and getting them interested in adopting animals from Lakeland" says Pat.

Pat says she has two favorite cats currently residing at the Shelter, China and Aileen, and both cats are special needs kitties that are harder to place because of their sassy attitudes, "I always seem to be drawn to the extremely timid or the cranky ones" says Pat, but it's rewarding to see them make progress. Pat says that one of her favorite quotes is "Ability is what you're capable of, Motivation determines what you do and Attitude determines how well you do it."

Judith Staponkus

2012 Volunteer of the Year Award Winner

“With so many animals that need help, my husband and I wanted to make a difference,” said Judith Staponkus who has been a  volunteer since 2005. Judith, a retired school teacher, says, “There are so many animals that need help and when an animal gets adopted and finds a forever home, it takes all the sad days away.” Judith said “We’ve always supported the shelter and had volunteered years before, but I knew when I retired I would have more time to give.”

And give she does. Judith is not only a volunteer dog walker, she participates in our Bright Futures Training Classes which help to make our dogs more adoptable, she is also a “Master Gardener” and is responsible for the beautification of not only the Lakeland Animal Shelter but our 9lives Boutique Resale Shop. Judith was the catalyst for “They Don’t Need a Castle” Public Art Auction Project. Judith was also the driving force behind the “Paw Print Painting Project."  We are very honored to not only call her our friend, but our VOLUNTEER OF THE YEAR!!

Lois Haas

2012 Faithful Companion Award Winner

“It makes a difference giving them a second chance, and I am happy knowing that what I do makes them happy,” says Lois Haas, one of our recipients of the Faithful Companion Award. Lois came to the shelter as a favor to her friend who asked her to check on and walk a dog that she had found as a stray.

Little did she know that by doing that one favor, she would forever change the lives of so many, animals and people alike. For seven years Lois has given her time and love. She said that she started out only coming once a week to walk dogs but saw how important it was to come and it has become a fulfilling part of her life ever since. She says that she gets frustrated if all the dogs can’t get out for a walk which when Lois is walking, is not that often!

When Lois started volunteering, she was mentored by Bette Popik, and a long standing friendship was formed. You will often see Bette and Lois walking dogs together to ensure that all the dogs get out one last time. When she is through for the evening, and before leaving she says “good night puppies”. Lois has participated in our Bright Futures Training Classes and Animal Assisted Therapy. In 2009 Lois had a mishap with one of our dogs. Lois bent down to remove the harness from a dog that she had just finished walking, and as she did so, he jumped up hitting her in the nose and broke it. Before we knew it, she was back at the Shelter walking dogs even before she was completely healed. Lois’ level of dedication is why she is our recipient of the “FAITHFUL COMPANION” award.

Bette Popik

2012 Faithful Companion Award Winner

Bette Popik has been a Lakeland Animal Shelter volunteer for almost 13 years. Weather is never a factor when it comes to getting our dogs out for walks, even if it’s just for 10 minutes. “I love walking them and playing with them and the best thing about volunteering is when the dogs get adopted,” says Bette who is our recipient for the Faithful Companion award.

Over the years, Bette has adopted several animals, and by no means did she go for the cute, easy going, highly adoptable dogs. She chose the older dogs with issues that by any other standards would have been deemed almost impossible to adopt, and she made it work, no matter the issue. Bette sees beyond what others choose to pass up, and through the years has adopted five dogs with what we like to call “Unique Qualities” and has made them part of her family. For her love, her dedication and commitment, we honor her with the “FAITHFUL COMPANION” award.

Nina Slowik

2012 Sally Krause "Make a Difference" Award Winner

For the past 10 years, Nina has faithfully gathered pledges for our Whisker Walk. Nina alone has raised more than $40,000 over the last 10 years. With her Pastor’s dog, Emma, by her side, they walk to raise much needed funds for the Animal Shelter. Nina also coordinates supply drives for the Shelter during the holidays. Whenever she sees that we are in need, she is right there collecting whatever is needed to help make the animals lives better.
Nina and her husband, Dale, also recently adopted Cora, a “special needs” cat, and report that after much care she is thriving in her new environment and is no longer having chronic medical issues. Nina’s passion for the animals is unending, her tireless commitment and dedication to not only raising funds but public awareness for the needs of homeless animals is why Nina is this years recipient of the Sally Krause "Make A Difference" Award 2012.