Katie Thurbon, Volunteer and Foster Manager
Hi! I’m Katie Thurbon, Volunteer and Foster Manager at Great Plains SPCA. Thank you for your interest in volunteering! Volunteers are essential to our mission of providing a better life for pets and the people who love them. We have hundreds of dedicated volunteers who expand our impact in the community and enhance the lives of homeless pets through a variety of avenues. If you would like to join us, please read below to find out if volunteering with Great Plains SPCA is right for you!
What are the requirements to volunteer?
- Time commitment varies by role
- Grace, accountability and respect for your fellow volunteers, GPSPCA staff and our guests
- Support for Great Plains SPCA’s mission
- An active e-mail for receiving volunteer communications
- $17 new volunteer fee, which covers training and a t-shirt
- Dog walker volunteers must purchase a leash at our retail store (or have an approved leash)
Already a Volunteer?
Featured Great Plains SPCA Volunteers
Tom and Kathy StullKathy and Tom have been helping at Great Plains for almost a decade! They perform a myriad of tasks to help the shelter run such as maintenance and repairs, transporting pets to and from the shelter, and fostering the occasional dog. We know that we can count on Tom and Kathy if we are in need! Their support on so many levels has been invaluable at times.
“We really support the mission of Great Plains SPCA. We get the most pleasure from the transports of pets to GP. We get to briefly know the kitties and puppies; their names and sometimes their histories and medical issues. We have an immediate connection to them knowing that we are literally saving their lives. It is so rewarding. Also rewarding is taking one of GP’s pups for special medical care, knowing that pup will have a better future. Because we are retired it is also easy for us to come by and help with maintenance problems. Just having another person to help with the problem gets the job done easier. We have volunteered in other areas since the opening of Great Plains, such as the Vet Center when we served the public and have done some fostering, mainly puppies. We have many funny puppy stories and one warning: be careful not to trip over them. We want the staff to know we will help in any emergency to the best of our abilities. We love volunteering at Great Plains and appreciate being selected as volunteers of the month” – Tom and Kathy Stull Volunteers of the Month, March 2021
Paul and Debbie Kimmerly
Paul and Debbie were nominated this month for their work spearheading the Dog Wash Wednesday team. For years now, Paul and Debbie have cultivated a relationship with the owner of U-Wash Puppy and organized a few volunteers to take dogs there every other week for baths so they can look, smell and feel their best for potential adopters! Paul and Debbie also frequently act as dog handlers for offsite events and are always offering general support to our staff.
“Debbie and I retired in 2011. We were looking for some place to volunteer and help with rescue animals. Over the years, we helped with a number of offsite events, including Puppygrams and Wines with Canines at Somerset Winery in Paola. While we have had many favorite shelter pets over the years, the two we must name are the two dogs we adopted from Great Plains, Shadow and Harvey. Another favorite was Ronnie, deaf pit bull mix. We have a soft spot for deaf dogs since one of our Jack Russells, Tess, was deaf. It is our privilege to volunteer at Great Plains and help all of the rescue animals that we can.” – Paul Kimemerly, on behalf of Debbie Volunteers of the Month, March 2021
Tina has been working with the biggest and goofiest Great Plains dogs since 2013! Tina’s specialty is taking dogs off campus for a break from shelter life. She loves to team up with volunteer friends and give dogs a big day out on the town. Tina has exceptional dog-handling skills and graciously puts those skills to use by taking dogs to offsite fundraising or adoption events. Tina is pictured with a dog named Dutch who was one of the few we were not able to place in a loving home.
“We are surprised, honored and humbled at being chosen Fosters of the Month. Thank you everyone. We have been fostering for GPSPCA around 7 years. Each litter of kittens and adult cats we foster is always the sweetest, cutest and our favorite. Glenn would keep them all if he could & he does try. We cared for Victoria, a surrendered older hospice cat. She was only thought to live a couple of months but we had her for six glorious ones. Gyps is another foster love with a skin condition who went to a rescue in Pennsylvania last year. Delilah is currently our favorite. She is such a sweet girl despite all she’s been through and needs a loving home to run and play in. Delilah’s speedy recovery could not have been possible without the wonderful support of the Vet, techs and other staff.” – Tina Cully, Volunteer of the Month, February 2021
Mari Beth ClineMari Beth Cline has been a core dog volunteer since 2007. She also helped develop the integral mentorship program for new volunteers. Mari Beth was nominated by her fellow Volunteers!
“Volunteering has been such an important part of my life since I took the leap 13 plus years ago. I helped develop the mentor program and always had a special place in my heart for helping new volunteers succeed. Spending time with our pets at Great plains is a privilege. Giving them our time and love is so special. Watching our favorites get adopted is heartwarming. Whether at an offsite, taking a walk or sitting on a bench I can’t imagine not being part of this organization. An extra perk is the special human friends I’ve made. I feel blessed to be a part of it all.” – Mari Beth Cline, Volunteer of the Month, January 2021
Doug DeffenbaughDoug has been volunteering with Great Plains for 23 years – before we were even known as Great Plains! He has filled a variety of roles, including Chief Financial Officer in the early days of the shelter. Today, he is happiest when he is playing ball with a dog in the play yards, but also always makes time to help deliver Puppygrams in February. When Doug isn’t working or volunteering, he’s spending time with his has two Great Plains canine alumni, Puff Man and Baxter.
“I love being with the dogs. There are very few days each year that the weather keeps me away. Some people come and focus on just a few dogs that really need the attention, but I feel if I don’t get every single dog in the shelter out to play in the yards in an afternoon, then I’ve failed. In the yards, the dogs get the chance to not be under control of a human for a little bit. They get to do whatever they want to do, and that’s why I’m here.” – Doug Deffenbaugh, Volunteer of the Year
What types of roles are available?We have temporarily stopped accepting new volunteer applications while we take time to make updates to the volunteer recruitment and training processes. If you are interested in being notified when we are accepting applicants again, please fill out this interest form.
Each year we place hundreds of pets into temporary foster homes for medical and behavioral reasons. For more information and to start fostering, please go to our foster page for more information and to access the application.
Community Service Hours
Please note that at this time, we cannot accommodate individuals who need court-ordered or work/school-required community service hours.
How do I get started?
To become a Brand Ambassador or Cat Socializer, please follow the steps below. Cat Socializers will also complete a one-one-one training session with a volunteer mentor. For other volunteer opportunities, please check back later.
- Watch our New Volunteer Information Session video.
- Take and pass the New Volunteer Quiz.
- Once you pass the quiz, you will be prompted to complete your volunteer profile and application.
- Once your application is submitted, it will be reviewed and if approved, you will be sent a link with next steps.
- Start volunteering!
Great Plains SPCA is committed to helping people of all ages experience the true joy pets bring into our lives, however, due to the nature of the shelter environment, we have volunteer age requirements to ensure both pets and people stay safe and comfortable.
- Volunteers must be at least 13 years of age to interact with our animals. Volunteers between the ages of 13 and 16 must be accompanied by an adult parent or guardian at all times, including while completing all of the new volunteer steps in the process above.
- Volunteers 16 and older may volunteer independently without an adult.
School and Community Group Volunteer Opportunities
We love working with school and community groups who want to help with tasks at the shelter. However, during COVID-19, we are not able to host these groups. If your group would still like to help, you can organize a donation drive benefitting Great Plains SPCA. Organize an effort to raise money or collect items from our Wishlist. Once your drive is complete, we can schedule a time for you to deliver the donations to the shelter and do a photo session.