Kim Morse has been a San Diego Humane Society (SDHS) volunteer for so long, she’s stopped counting. But SDHS hasn’t. This December marks 13 years and nearly 1,700 hours of time Morse has spent fulfilling a wide range of needs—from cleaning guinea pig and rabbit cages with her teenage children (now in their late 20s), walking dogs, mentoring in the Kitten Nursery, and to her favorite job of all: providing specialty care to animals in quarantine at SDHS’s Sherman Street facility. Morse is one of only three volunteers who suits up in full-body protective gear to socialize with kittens, puppies, and even rabbits who are stricken with diseases such as ringworm, feline calicivirus, or feline distemper (panleukopenia).
“Working at Sherman Street is the most rewarding of all,” says Morse. “The animals are temporarily isolated to protect other animals and the public, and what they found is that if their only contact with people is having their cage cleaned or getting dipped once a week, it’s not fun for them, and people become scary. That makes it harder for them to get adopted.”
So it is Morse’s job to show these vulnerable animals just how much fun people can be. Dressed head to toe in bleachable scrubs and Crocs, heavy-duty coveralls, knee-high surgical booties, double or triple gloves, and a protective apron, Morse spends at least four hours a week playing with these sick kittens and canines until they’ve healed. Any toy that’s used must be thrown away after use; simple, inexpensive items such as pipe cleaners, feathers, and ping-pong balls provide entertainment for curious kittens who are happy to have someone giving them attention. And Morse is more than happy to oblige, knowing that her efforts will eventually help them find homes.
For Morse, it’s all part of her calling as an animal lover and, now that she’s retired, it’s where she feels she’s supposed to be.
“No matter what I’m doing at San Diego Humane Society—even if it’s walking a dog that’s pulling and pulling—I find it so relaxing,” she says. “The staff are so wonderful and grateful for the help, and I always walk away feeling like I did something good. The animals will never be able to repay you, but the payment you get in your soul is so much grander than anything you could dream of. It’s just so good for the heart and soul to be there.”