Volunteer spotlight: The hard-working individuals of Pet Refuge

Published: Feb. 27, 2020 at 5:09 PM EST
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Now may be the time to add a for a furry friend to the family, as local rescues are getting ready for National Pet Adoption Weekend.

On Thursday, 16 News Now focused on the hard-working people who make sure shelter animals have what they need.

We're talking about, of course, the volunteers at the shelters who care for, feed and house these animals.

16 News Now photojournalist Kyle Bindas looked at Pet Refuge, one Michiana shelter that could not exist without its volunteers.

"Our whole organization is volunteers, from the president down to the dog and cat cleaners," dog department shelter coordinator Darla Pantzer said. "Volunteers is everything. Without volunteers we would not have an organization."

While Pantzer oversees the dog department, another volunteer prepares their food.

"I'm making breakfast for the dogs," Jami Bandenbossche said. "I am the supreme slop maker, by the way."

Sometimes, it's not as easy as simply feeding and cleaning the animals. Some of them need particular attention.

"Certain dogs need certain things," Pantzer said. "For an example, if a dog has an allergy, they get a certain food based on allergies."

"Every dog has their own individual menu," Bandenbossche explained. "It's like working at a five-star restaurant."

The many volunteers who keep Pet Refuge running are a dedicated bunch.

"We have a lot of volunteers that have been here 10-plus years. That takes an incredible amount of passion," Pantzer said.

And that passion is well-placed.

"It's because of the miracles I've seen through Pet Refuge," Bandenbossche said. "It's an amazing place to work. To watch the progress of these animals and the people that care for them is very rewarding."

For more information on volunteering or to donate, visit the