Sharing her love for animalsThe Goodhue County Humane Society has been at its current Brick Avenue location for about 21 years. And Linda Niebeling has been a volunteer there for all but one of those years.
By: Sarah Gorvin, The Republican Eagle
The Goodhue County Humane Society has been at its current Brick Avenue location for about 21 years. And Linda Niebeling has been a volunteer there for all but one of those years.
“I really believe in the shelter,” the Red Wing resident said. “It’s a valuable service. There’s a really big need — for the animals and the community.”
Niebeling said she’s been an animal lover her entire life. Knowing that the shelter provides basics for animals in need is a big part of why she volunteers.
“Our animals are warm, dry. They get medical care,” she said. “We manage to get all the animals spayed or neutered. It’s really an important thing.”
Niebeling, who worked in the Red Wing High School media center before she retired, said the number of hours that she spends at the humane society varies each week.
“It’s hard to tell,” she said. “A few. Sometimes it’s a lot.”
Another thing that varies is the tasks Niebeling works on once she walks through the door. Now, much of her work is helping put together and plan fundraising events, like the upcoming Walk-a-Thon.
Niebeling is also the secretary for the society’s board, helps with office work when necessary and takes care of the flower beds outside. Still, she’s not afraid to get her hands dirty.
“If there’s a need, I can clean cat pans with the rest of them,” she said.
When she’s not volunteering, Niebeling said she likes taking care of her own two pets: a leopard gecko named Francine and a young Corgi mix named Lulu.
“I would have more animals, but my husband has cat allergies,” Niebeling said. “(But) I can come here and play with them.”
Niebeling also spends as much time as she can with her seven grandchildren, who range in age from one to 24 years old. Volunteering at the humane society has allowed Niebeling to share her love of animals with them.
“They’re interested. When they come to visit, they want me to bring them down,” she said.
That’s especially true for granddaughter Lily, who comes along with Niebeling to the shelter to help socialize the puppies and kittens.
“She totally loves animals,” Niebeling said. “She loves this place.”
Niebeling’s favorite part of volunteering is “just knowing that we’re doing good.” She said the society, on average, places about 30 animals in adoptive homes each month.
“That’s a good feeling,” she said. “You know your hard work is really helping.”
Over the years, a few of those adopted animals’ stories have stuck with Niebeling. She remembers “pillow case kitty,” who was found on the side of the road tied up in the bed covering.
There was also Daisy, a lab and Australian cattle dog mix who came into the shelter with a bad limp.
“She needed expensive surgery, $1,200,” Niebeling said. “We have a strict budget.”
The humane society staff got resourceful and posted Daisy’s story on Facebook to try to raise the money. One person ended up donating $1,000. Then, with just a bit more fundraising, Daisy was able to have her surgery.
“She recuperated here,” Niebeling said. “When she was ready, she got adopted.”
“This is an interesting place. There’s always something going on. Every animal has a story.”
Niebeling has spent a lot of her volunteer hours in the past few months helping to organize the society’s fourth annual Walk-a-Thon. People are encouraged to collect pledges and bring them to the event. Pick up a sponsor sheet at the humane society, Chuck & Don’s Pet Food Outlet or download at www.hsgcpets.org/walk-a-thon. Personal donations will also be accepted.
The event will feature door prizes, a dog talent show, refreshments, face painting, pet portraits and more.
What: Humane Society of Goodhue County Walk-a-Thon
When: Saturday, 10 a.m.–1 p.m.
Where: Colvill Park
More information: www.hsgcpets.org, 651-388-5286