Spotlight: Pets are precious for ticket manager
Doggy pooper-scooper$20; leather leash for pet$15; outdoor dog kennel$500:
Giving an animal a new start to lifepriceless for Shari Wilcox, ticket manager with the University's athletic department.
"I've been lucky to be here for some really exciting times and several national championships," says Wilcox, whose job involves supervising the athletic department's daily ticket sales.
Despite having a son who currently attends "that green and white school up north," the 18 years she has worked at the University have turned Wilcox into a real Maize and Blue fan. During that time, she has witnessed endless tailgate parties and hectic game days, but the wolverine is not the only animal that has found abode in her heart.
For the past year she also has been actively involved with the Humane Society of Huron Valley (HSHV). This organization states its mission as preventing animal cruelty and providing homes for stray animals.
Even though Wilcox has always loved animals, she was nervous on her first day of volunteering at the HSHV animal shelter. "I just didn't want to do anything wrong," she recalls.
Wilcox remembers slowly walking into the shelter's main kennel, which holds 28 dogs, and feeling overwhelmed as the kennel gradually filled with booming barks of excitement echoing against the walls. She's been hooked ever since, and currently joins other volunteers to help care for the shelter animals.
"A kind touch from a loving hand makes them adoptable," Wilcox says, adding that most animals are able to be taken home within a week. "I could go out on a Sunday, for example, and walk four dogs," Wilcox says. "Then that next week, never see them again because they could be adopted."
This has happened before. She recalls growing attached to a pit bull named Morgana. For many who envision pit bulls, images of dog fighting and violence come to mind. "But she was just sweet," Wilcox says. "She changed my perception of pit bulls."
One afternoon a man and his daughter visited the shelter to adopt a dogany breed. Wilcox smiles as she remembers that they, too, fell in love with Morgana. "They went home that night and researched everything about pit bulls," Wilcox says.
After learning that pit bulls actually are the most loyal of dogs, the man and daughter returned to the shelter and educated even some of the HSHV members with their research findings. That day, Morgana found a new home.
Not only has Wilcox learned more about various breeds of dogs but she also has discovered more about the value of humanity.
"Volunteering changes one in general because you give of yourself," she says. "No matter how bad of a day I've had, I know there's always an animal there who needs me."
Wilcox hopes not only Washtenaw but surrounding communities will realize the value of humane societies. She recalls Gandhi's quote, "The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated."
Wilcox personally has taken this to heart by opening her home to a few animals in need. She owns two dogs, two cats and a litter of seven foster kittens. "With taking care of these animals, I just have to be careful not to let my house overflow," she says with a laugh.
HSHV wants to change the notion that owners simply should abandon difficult animals. "We're a throw away society in so many ways," Wilcox says. "So when an animal isn't convenient any more as a pet, people will just give up." HSHV has begun to offer pet behavior tips with their helpline available on their Web site.
Wilcox adds that most people think they are funding community shelters, such as HSHV, by donating to a state humane society through United Way. But as an independent organization, only donations made specifically to HSHV benefit the shelter.
"The shelter is fully donor supported and receives no state or city money other than a small contract to house strays," she says. HSHV is seeking to build a new shelter since their current residence is 55 years old.
To learn more about the Humane Society of Huron Valley go to www.hshv.org or for tips on pet discipline, call the helpline number: (734) 662-5545.