NH Humane Society Volunteer Spotlight: Meet Chris Baerman of Laconia

“I am an animal person.  I like all animals and at the Humane Society, I focus on cats.”

How long have you volunteered with the NH Humane Society, and what prompted you to volunteer with the organization? 
I started in November of 2012.  I adopted several cats from a shelter and by doing so I decided to become a volunteer.  Fun fact: When I first started volunteering, I had four cats, and now I have eight!  

Do you volunteer with any other organizations and if so, with who?
No.  I devote all of my spare time to the NH Humane Society. 

What do you most enjoy about volunteering with the NH Humane Society? Why do you volunteer with the NH Humane Society?
First and foremost, it is interaction with all of the animals.  I work with the cats but enjoy the dogs, and the rabbits and Guinea pigs as well.  I even enjoyed the pig that we had for awhile!  I also enjoy the staff and the other volunteers as they all share a common interest and consideration for the animals.  I have made so many lasting friendships through my volunteer work with the NH Humane Society. 

What’s a typical day like for you as a volunteer?
More often than not I have foster animals at my home (this is a form of volunteering).  I have fostered kittens and older cats, and do so mostly for socialization purposes.  At home, I clean the cages, water and food dishes, and I socialize the cats that I am fostering.  I also visit the shelter and work with the cats that are in the Shy and Fearful Program.  Additionally, I train our cat volunteers who go through a general orientation process.

You are known as the “cat whisperer.” Are you? Tell us more.
This is flattering!  I don’t call myself that.  I believe that I am known as the cat whisperer because I have the most experience with cats at the NH Humane Society.  I have fostered over 150 cats, and also started the Shy and Fearful Program and the Healing Hands Program, which trains volunteers on how to work with animals that are in medical isolation. 

Are you a dog person or cat person (I think we may know the answer)?
I am an animal person. 

What’s it like meeting a family who is about to adopt a pet?
It’s exciting, energizing, and nerve-wracking.  It is bittersweet because you form attachments to the animals, and you want them to have a good family, but miss them when they leave the shelter.  You always hope that the people are the right people for the animal; that it’s a good match. 

Any good/positive stories to share from your experience as a volunteer?
The most positive story is when an animal has been at the shelter for a very long time and you feel like they are not going to find a home, but one day, out of nowhere, the right match comes along.  Patience is so important. Sooner or later, the right person/family does come through the doors!

What do you do outside of your volunteer work (please share any passions or hobbies, e.g. hiking, biking, fly-fishing, reading)? 
My wife and I have recently gotten into running and we do a lot of it.  In November I ran my first marathon, the Manchester City Marathon.  We ran at least 5K every day in December for a 5k a Day Challenge. 

Do you have a pet and if so, what’s their name?
We have eight cats!  Their names are Venus, Nova, Gingersnap, Snickerdoodle, Jangle, Graham, Tangerine, and Butterbean.  The last four cats were adopted as a direct result of my volunteer work at the NH Humane Society

Anything else you’d like to share?
I encourage everyone to come and volunteer.  We are always in need of volunteers at the NH Humane Society. 

How to Volunteer:
The NH Humane Society relies on our many dedicated, compassionate volunteers to help us fulfill our mission and expand our services.  Volunteers keep our shelter running smoothly and provide our animals with much needed socialization, exercise, and most importantly, love. 

All volunteers who work within the shelter and directly in contact with animals are required to be 18 years of age.  However, if you are at least 16 years of age, you can work at events and other shelter-related activities. We are always ready to welcome new volunteers.  If you are ready to share your time, talents, and love, please download and review our volunteer application to bring to the shelter, or apply online.