Cindy Chapman: The MML Interview

By on 19 July, 2013 in Kate and Stephen, Pets with 1 Comment

Cindy Chapman with her Chihuahua mix Nat

This is part of an occasional series here at Midtown Montgomery Living. From time to time we sit down with interesting folks in the community to hear more about them. Recently, we’ve interviewed local designer Hillary Andrews, Biscuits manager Billy Gardner and filmmaker Shane Gillis. This week, we met Cindy Chapman. Cindy is the Volunteer Coordinator for the Montgomery Humane Society. You may have seen her around town at events like the Street Fair with MHS volunteers and employees showing adoptable pets. Cindy manages the more than 350 people who volunteer for MHS. Anyone who likes cute animals should head on over to MHS’ Facebook page, whose Pets of the Week might get you thinking about expanding your household!

MML: How long have you been with the Montgomery Humane Society? 

Cindy: I have been Volunteer Coordinator at the Montgomery Humane Society for three years. Before being hired as VC, I was a volunteer for about five years.

MML: What prompted your interest in working with animals?

Cindy: I was a teacher at a local high school and sponsored a club that worked with MHS. My student/club members helped work offsite events, such as the Walk N Wag, monthly Petsmart adoptions, the Dog U Tante Ball, etc. Much of what I did with my students, I do with volunteers here. I was volunteering at an event with Helen, a dog I had taken to several off-site events. She was an older, Shepherd mix. A woman fell in love with her and was completing her adoption paperwork, when our Volunteer Coordinator at the time, came by our booth. When I told her that Helen was being adopted, she got on her phone and called the shelter to let everyone know. I could hear the cheers from the shelter employees over that phone. That really touched me and had a lot to do with me becoming more involved. Just knowing how much the staff cared about the animals was inspirational.

MML: How many animals are available for adoption at any given time?

Cindy: At any given time, we have between 200 – 300 animals up for adoption.

MML: What are some common myths that people believe about the shelter and the adoption process?

Cindy: People think that animals here have a time limit. The only time limit we have is a 5 day stray hold on animals that come in as strays. We legally have to wait for 5 days to see if an owner comes to claim the animal. If the animal is not claimed, we do medical and behavioral assessments, to see if they are adoptable. If they are deemed adoptable, shots and other meds are given, they are sent to be spayed or neutered, given a rabies shot, and put on the adoption floor.

MML: What pets are easiest to match with a family? What are some that are more difficult? Why do you think those differences exist?

Cindy: Families who are looking for a puppy for the kids are probably the easiest to match up. They are normally looking for a bigger breed of puppy that will enjoy playing and roughhousing with them. The hardest is the person who comes in looking for a puppy that is going to stay small. If we don’t have any at the time, they often start looking at “cuteness” even if the cute puppy will top off at 70 lbs. In that case, we have to save people from themselves, because as much as we want our pups to find homes, we want them to stay in those homes and not be returned.

MML: How many people volunteer for MHS? What do they do?

Cindy: We have about 250 adult volunteers, 107 Jr Volunteer families, and about 50 foster families. Adult volunteers must commit to at least 6 hours of volunteer time per month. Volunteers do whatever employees need them to do to help take care of our animals. Tasks include: laundry, washing food bowls and litter boxes, scooping poop, bathing animals, walking dogs, making copies, answering the phone, greeting customers, sweeping,etc.

MML: Why is it important to volunteer with MHS?

Cindy: As a non-profit, our funds are limited, therefore our staff is minimal.  Volunteers allow us to do more with what we have.

MML: Moving forward, what are some of MHS’ major goals for the next few years?

Cindy: As for the future, we are continuing to improve our dog walking trail in the back of the shelter. Our volunteers enjoy walking in the shaded area. We are still working to get the drainage exactly right and to have fencing installed. We are also looking into summer camp for kids.  We are in the gathering information stage right now, so no firm plans yet.

MML: Do you have pets?

Cindy: I have 7 dogs at home. They are a Dachshund mix, a Yorkie/Maltese mix, a Chihuahua, and 4 Chihuahua mixes. Only two of the seven came from MHS. The two that I adopted from MHS were not deemed adoptable because of behavior issues, but they are just fine at my house with the rest of the herd. The others were neighborhood strays or given to me by people who no longer wanted them.

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  1. Erica says:

    I highly recommend volunteering at the Humane Society. Walking the dogs is a great workout and you get to meet tons of new furry friends! It feels great to know that you made their days at the shelter brighter. And, it is amazing to see animals that you know find homes.

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