PASCO, Wash. - The Tri-Cities Animal Shelter is housing nearly 50 dogs at their Pasco facility, and because that number can skyrocket, the shelter needs dog walkers.
Stacy Sisemore has been volunteering as a dog walker for 10 years. She works as a recovery room nurse, but when she's not working, Sisemore is at the shelter.
"When I came the first time, I realized that I need to come back tomorrow because they need me," Sisemore said. "Getting out is crucial for their mental health."
The dogs come in all shapes and sizes. They all need one thing – a walk.
"I go around the bike path and you know, give them a lot of good time," Sisemore explained. "Let them smell, let them run, do whatever they want do. It's their time out."
Volunteers try to take all the dogs out in the morning and afternoon for at least 20 minutes. On a typical day, there are three to four dog walkers at the shelter.
"They just want out. They just want your attention," she said. "Otherwise, they don't get it. They're in a kennel for 24 hours a day. Just getting them out of that shelter makes a huge difference."
Sisemore says it's a form of therapy for her and the dogs.
"Halfway through, they'll stop and give you so much love -- just thankful to get out for once," Sisemore said. "You actually leave feeling like you made a difference and happier than what you would think if you never came."
Sisemore says she tries to walk as many dogs as she can until the shelter closes. Sometimes, she walks nearly 10 miles a day. While she hopes volunteers can spend a full day with the dogs, Sisemore says every second counts.
"Even if it's just an hour, even if it's just 20 minutes and all you can do is get one dog or something -- that really does make a difference," she said. "If all the people that wanted to volunteer came even once a week, walk one or two dogs, it would make a huge difference."
If you don't have the ability to walk dogs, there's a yard for them to play in. Kittens also need some love. You can go to the shelter and pet them.
To volunteer, head to the Tri-Cities Animal Shelter with your ID. From there, the staff will walk you through the process of taking a dog for a stroll along the Columbia River.