This is a two part series covering the Helotes Humane Society. In this first part we interviewed Executive Director Allan McKay and toured the Helotes Humane Society. The second part of this series will publish later this month after we complete the interview with a Helotes Humane Society foster family.
Helotes News: How many volunteers does the Helotes Humane Society currently have?
Allan McKay: We currently have nearly thirty active volunteers that are not foster families.
Helotes News: What types of work do your volunteers do?
Allan McKay: Our volunteers primarily work in the thrift store either sorting/storing donations or helping in the store itself. We also have a couple volunteers that help with animals in our clinic with vaccines and other minor treatments under the supervision of a Veterinary Technician. In addition, we have a few volunteers that help us maintain our property by doing yard work and other maintenance work that needs done.
Helotes News: How many hours a week does a volunteer at your location serve?
Allan McKay: It depends on what area but generally speaking, volunteers work from 3-8 hours per week.
Helotes News: If someone wants to get involved how do they get started?
Allan McKay: Unfortunately, because of the COVID-19 Pandemic, we are only taking new volunteers on a limited basis. The first step would be to visit our website and fill out the volunteer application. If we feel that there is an area or need that could be addressed by that particular person, we will reach out to them to set up a meeting.
Helotes News: How many foster families are currently volunteering?
Allan McKay: We currently have over 250 families that are signed up to be fosters with about 100 families actively fostering. We even have a few families that foster dogs for us in Washington.
Helotes News: Are there enough foster families or do you need more help?
Allan McKay: The need for fosters is always changing. Many fosters can only take specific animals due to a variety of reasons so it’s always important for us to be signing up new fosters. We also see a lot of turnover with foster parents that are in the military and have to leave the San Antonio area due to a military move.
Helotes News: What are the things someone should consider before becoming a foster family?
Allan McKay: The biggest consideration is time. Adding a pet to a household is a significant responsibility that takes a good deal of time. We ask our foster parents to treat their foster animals like they would treat their own but, they also have to bring them to our clinic for vaccines, to our adoption events, and any other appointments as needed. Another key factor to consider is the type and age of the animal. For example, puppies take a lot more time and energy than an adult cat. Foster families also need to consider their personal pets; foster animals need to fit into the household “pack”. Many of our animals come to us as strays and have never lived in a home, so there can be a significant adjustment period while they learn what it means to be part of a family.
Helotes News: How rewarding is it to be a foster family of a pet in need?
Allan McKay: As part of a foster family myself I can say it is extremely rewarding! My wife and I primarily foster puppies and bottle baby kittens but will also take the occasional adult cat that either has kittens or is pregnant. We get updates from the families that have adopted animals from us on a regular basis and it’s an amazing feeling to know we played a part in helping an animal find it’s forever home.
Helotes News: Do you think most are aware that HHS operates Second Chances Thrift Shop?
Allan McKay: I think it is pretty widely known throughout the community but getting the word out to more people is something I always try to do. The thrift store manager does a great job of keeping it stocked, clean, and accessible for customers and we see it as a resource for both the community and the humane society.
Helotes News: What percentage of revenue does the thrift shop generate for Helotes Humane Society?
Allan McKay: Generally, the thrift store generates about 30-35% of our annual revenue. This number did drop down during 2020 due to the closures and social distancing needed because of COVID-19.
Helotes News: What is the most sold item that you are looking for?
Allan McKay: I don’t think there is one item in particular the store is in need of or that is sold the most. We sell everything from clothes to artwork, from jewelry to small appliances.
Helotes News: Do you have any advice for anyone looking to donate items?
Allan McKay: Donations are always appreciated. Right now, due to COVID-19 precautions, we are only taking donations by appointment on Saturdays. Anyone that has items to donate should call the store at 210-372-1255 during normal business hours, Thursday/Friday from 10:00 am – 2:30 pm or Saturday from 9:00 am – 3:30 pm.