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May 16, 2023

National Volunteer Week

National Volunteer Week

To celebrate National Volunteer Week (15th – 21st May), we take a look at what motivates Australia’s volunteers and how they play a vital role in supporting our communities.

Someone who has had a significant impact on their community is Mark Seeley. Mark has been a volunteer for RSPCA for over 14 years and has dedicated an impressive 24,000 hours to their mission. Mark volunteers in their Animal Care Section and Behaviour Program, which helps address the emotional needs of the animals as the shelter can be an overwhelming environment. Mark loves all things animals and volunteers to make the world a better place for all things great and small. This is what he had to say about his volunteering experience with pets over the years.


Question 1. Looking after homeless pets can be an upsetting experience, how do you cope with seeing so many pets in need?

This is now my 15th year with the RSPCA and I must admit it is not easy to come in every weekend and see the new dogs that have been surrendered or even the long-termers. Initially, it was quite confronting to see the condition of some dogs, whether that’s physical or mental, but over the years, I have learned to let that go and focus on each dog, or I wouldn’t be able to continue to volunteer with the RSPCA. I know in my heart most of the dogs that I care for are so appreciative of the time that you give them, that’s what makes it all worthwhile. Seeing the dog’s mental and physical conditions improve over the ensuing weeks is what keeps me coming back every week.”



Question 2. What can pet parents do if they are experiencing difficulties?

“The RSPCA currently runs community days in many areas of QLD that help provide some assistance to those who may be experiencing hardship. The community days are a way for the RSPCA to help keep people and their pets together.

The community days are posted on the RSPCA Facebook page as events so people can in book-in to receive free veterinary health checks, free vaccinations, free microchipping and pet ID tags, free flea, and worming products – thanks to one of their partners, Elanco, and also receive free grooming advice, free pet banks for dogs and cats (food, bedding, collars, leads, etc.). Plus behaviour and training advice and information about positive pet ownership.”



Question 3.  Do you have any happy stories to share about the amazing work you do?

“I have a lot of stories over the years and a more recent one is a young blue heeler that came into the shelter with her sister. One of the dogs was extremely outgoing and engaging and just loved cuddles, pats, and anything else you could throw her way and was adopted very quickly. The other dog on the other hand was extremely timid and fearful. In my role, with the behaviour team, I worked with this dog for several weeks, slowly bringing her out of her shell and getting her used to the world and all its noises. I have since managed to talk a friend into adopting this beautiful dog and have had the absolute pleasure of seeing her blossom into a vibrant, inquisitive, loving dog. Although still a little frightened of certain situations/noises, the improvement makes everything I do worthwhile.

Another favourite story of mine was about a young dog, which had been physically (and more likely mentally) abused and had to have his leg amputated as a result of his injuries. I spent time with him on the night of his surgery and it was like nothing had ever happened. He was a happy, cuddly dog, who just wanted to be loved. I also get to work with some amazing people who truly have animals’ best interests at heart. You will never get rich ($ wise) working at the RSPCA (or volunteering for that matter), but the absolute joy it brings to see an animal find his furever home, leaves me with a smile on my face and a sense of satisfaction when I finish every shift.

There was also one more special dog who was a very frightened bulldog whom I worked with for several months. I used to come and see him even when I wasn’t rostered on because he seemed to love me visiting and I always got a big smile, kiss, and cuddle. After one unsuccessful adoption, he was finally adopted by a loving family, who have since shared photos/stories of how well he is doing and adjusting to his new life. These make it worthwhile and are the reason I keep coming back.”