Monday, July 13, 2015

Volunteer Appreciation: Monty and Ming, MAC drivers (and more)

Rumbling past you on the roads or parked and invitingly open at events — have you seen our amazing Mobile Adoption Center or MAC? 

After a Berkeley Humane executive and a volunteer drove it home to Berkeley from Ohio, we formally opened it with a ribbon-cutting ceremony overseen by none other than Grumpy Cat herself. (Check out our pictures from that star-struck day here.)

The MAC travels around the Bay Area carrying adoptable pets and Berkeley Humane volunteers to far-flung events. 

The MAC at its ribbon-cutting ceremony, January 24, 2015.
Photo by JennyDee Photography.
In addition to increasing pet adoptions, the MAC opens up new volunteer opportunities and boosts Berkeley Humane’s presence in the community.

Our volunteer MAC drivers see the Bay, connect with the public, and help adoptable pets find their new homes. It’s rewarding work -- take it from Monty Lee and Ming Wang, two Berkeley Humane volunteers who count MAC driving among their skills.

Both volunteers have been driving the MAC since it arrived in Berkeley in August 2014. MAC training broadened their volunteer horizons: in addition to helping out at the shelter they can drive the MAC to an event, connect with community members, counsel potential adopters, and facilitate adoptions on the spot.

What drew you to working with the MAC?

Ming: “The potential of bringing Berkeley Humane animals to wider range of adopters.”

Monty: “The chance to experience all facets of Berkeley Humane operations: animal handling, adoption counseling, meeting and discussing Berkeley Humane with interested parties, and adoption processing.”

Training to drive the MAC, Ming says, was a whirlwind of information. “But the animal behavior section of the training is really helpful because we can monitor how the animals are during the car ride and also during the event.” She practiced on the streets around Berkeley Humane to get comfortable with the vehicle. 

Monty, who already had some experience driving RVs and large vehicles, agrees with Ming’s assessment. Training, he says, “was a great experience learning about the history of Berkeley Humane, its operating philosophy, and an overview of how animals come to the facility, get adopted, and are followed up on after adoption.”

What’s the coolest part of MAC driving?

Ming: “Working with cute doggies and kitties!”

Monty: “The most satisfying thing is to see a happy adoption — especially with children involved. Also, working with Berkeley Humane staff. They have been very supportive and exhibit genuine care and empathy for the animals.”

Ming Wang and fellow volunteer Denis Yurchikov collecting donations
for Berkeley Humane at Pride.
Not only does the MAC house adoptable dogs and cats — it’s also an effective mobile billboard for Berkeley Humane. “A lot of people are curious about MAC, especially the inside, so they always want a tour,” says Ming. “Some kids gets excited when they see the MAC driving on the street because of the animal pictures on the side.”

 While people clearly love the MAC, how do the animals inside react? “In most cases the animals are calm, cool, and collected, probably because staff is careful about the animals selected to travel based on knowing the animals' behavior,” says Monty. “Cats are mostly OK with it,” says Ming. “Some dogs require more petting.” 

Because the MAC is 100% volunteer-operated, Berkeley Humane always has an eye out for new volunteers. Interested in chauffeuring dogs and cats to adoption events? Fill out a volunteer application or examine other volunteer options with us

What advice would you give to potential MAC volunteers?

Ming: “Be open to talk to all kinds of people and kids.”

Monty: “Enjoy engaging with the public and getting the message out about adoptions generally and Berkeley Humane in particular.”

Berkeley Humane is grateful to Monty and Ming for their time and dedication. Volunteers like these two don’t only help the shelter, they also help adoptable animals of the Bay Area and our general community. Thank you, Ming and Monty!

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