Animal shelter has services for students


Jack Arkus

Coles County Animal Shelter employee Jason Wallace walks a dog on March 31.

Jack Arkus, Staff Reporter

Students at Eastern have the ability to utilize the select services of the Coles County Animal Shelter, for instances, students may go to the shelter if they need volunteer hours. They can earn volunteer hours by playing with the animals and keeping the animals company. Students may also go to the shelter to adopt a pet. Another way the shelter offers access to students is for those who just want to get away from their college studies and have a companion to be with for a few hours.

Volunteer hours are held Monday to Friday from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Some of the rules include volunteers must be 18 –years-old or older, must wear closed toed shoes, must call ahead of time. If the volunteer is visiting a dog, they must be outside for 15 minutes before coming to the shelter, so the dog can adjust.

Dogs are not the only animals at the shelter. Dogs are the most common animal adopted while cats are the second most. The Coles County Animal Shelter has applied health relief to a spectrum of animals including: goats, rabbits, guinea pigs, rats, snakes, salamanders and even an abused Pony.

Taylor Badal, a senior elementary education major at Lakeland and animal lover, has visited the Coles County Animal shelter. Badal has been to the shelter numerous times to complete her 15-hour class community service hours. Though the majority of students who volunteer attend Eastern, it is common to see students from Lakeland as well.

“The shelter hours are a little wonky,” Badal says. “Calling ahead is always beneficial too because they will be able to tell you if there is a need for volunteers at that time or if they already have enough people.”

About 50 percent of students who visit the shelter are there for community or class service, according to The Coles County Animal shelter manager Julie L. Deters. Students who perform community service spends about an average of 10 hours tending to the animals during their handful of trips. Badal said that she still goes back to the shelter now. Even though Badal’s class hours are complete, she likes to visit the shelter to get her fix of playing with the animals.

“I could not think of better way to spend my time,” Badal said.

Kyle Arnett, a junior electronic media production student, said he finds himself going to the shelter once a month. Arnett said he does not go visit the cats and dogs because he is required to. But instead he drops in from time to time to get away from the computer aspect of his life.

“Editing on a computer is a big part of my life so I really like to take a break when I can and catch a nice day outside at the shelter for an hour or so,” Arnett said.  “I think more students should consider using a little free time and checking it out if they have not been there before.”

Student adoption is a fairly popular trend for those who visit the animal shelter. Deter estimates that just over 25 percent of students who come in to the shelter are there to adopt a pet. The student who plans on adopting a pet must meet certain criteria.

“We look at where the animal will be living after the four years of college if it does stay with a fulltime student,” Deter said. “I try to play the devil’s advocate. Adopting a pet is more than just a four year commitment. It is for the lifetime of the pet which we hope is a solid 10-12 years.” Adopting a pet is almost like adopting a child. The maintenance is a little lower along with the overall cost but if a student is not qualified to treat an animal with the same aspect of a child, they may be denied adoption.

Marissa Muskievicz, a senior communications studies major, said she completed her sorority services back in Fall 2012 by spending some time at the shelter. Muskievicz’ experience was different than other students who have been at the shelter because she left with a new best friend. Muskievicz adopted a beagle and basset dog mix, Charlie, out of impulse and she could not have been any happier.

“My friend and I were walking through the kennels and every dog was barking and jumping on the doors to their kennels,” Muskievicz said. “Charlie was sitting there so silent, and I was like “oh my god! I need him.””

Based on the condition Charlie was in when she picked him up Muskievicz knew Charlie was abused. Charlie was unable to walk and seemed terrified to a point where he just sat there scared in silence. Muskievicz believes that the previous owner abused him; Charlie is still very wary of men today. Muskievicz said a lot of her friends in her sorority go pretty often but she has not back in over a year.

“Based on their unreasonable hours, I can never find time to go back. Plus, I would be tempted to fall in love with another pet and call it mine, which my parents would not be too fond of,” Muskievicz said. “Once I get my own place I will keep Coles County Animal Shelter in mind if I go searching for another pet.”


Jack Arkus can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]