Adelia Hwang and Brian Sheridan are among the crowd of Animal Aid volunteers who have been a part of the organization for many years. Since they started volunteering with us nearly a decade ago, they’ve helped with annual plant sales and garage sales, the former Bet for Pets fundraising gala, and as Facilities Committee members, cat and dog caregivers, and PICs, the lead volunteers during a caregiving shift.
Adelia was also an adoption counselor in her first role at the shelter. She said the experience “exposed us to Animal Aid’s thorough application process, which showed us how seriously the organization takes connecting each animal to their furever home.”
Their favorite roles are caregiving and PIC. “As a caregiver or PIC, we get to help ensure that the health and safety of the animals meet a high standard,” Adelia said. “While we certainly don’t love doing chores at our own home, knowing that we are helping keep the shelter clean and the animals nourished and well cared for make sweeping, wiping, scooping, and pilling so much more fun. Plus, there’s always the opportunity to play with and love on the animals.”
In these roles, Adelia and Brian also see firsthand how shy, scared, or aggressive cats can transform into content and loving creatures. They’re excited when any of the animals find homes, “but it’s especially thrilling when the long-timers get adopted,” Adelia said. “We were over the moon when we found out Sabrina (now Sugarfoot) was adopted recently. We felt the same for Cole, Rosemary, Hamlet, and Eugene.”
After the couple lost their dog in September, they added another volunteer role to their list: becoming an Animal Aid dog foster family. Most recently, they fostered Davey, a 15-year-old Chihuahua/Dachshund mix who sadly became a hospice dog after it was discovered he was suffering from both kidney and heart failure. With the help of an at-home veterinarian, Davey passed away peacefully with Brian and Adelia by his side on February 2.
“Although we recently had to say goodbye to Davey, he touched our hearts in an incredible way,” Adelia said. “Davey was resilient despite his two serious medical conditions, a tooth that likely caused him great pain but couldn’t be removed due to not being able to undergo anesthesia, and having to transition to a new home at age 15. Davey was smart: He learned to tolerate being crated overnight after just one day. He also quickly picked up how to tell us when he needed to go potty. Davey was a sweet companion—he followed us everywhere when he was feeling good. He will forever be a part of our family. Thank you Animal Aid for not leaving animals like Davey behind.”
We are forever grateful to fosters like Adelia and Brian who open their home and hearts to not just foster pets, but hospice animals. You made a world of difference during Davey’s last days, Brian and Adelia—you have our gratitude and our hearts.
When the couple aren’t volunteering at Animal Aid, they’re active in many personal interests. They enjoy traveling, hiking, beachcombing, birdwatching, floating and kayaking rivers, gardening, vegan food, relaxing with their animals, and watching Star Trek. Adelia said that the “many great organic veggie starts we’ve bought at the Animal Aid plant sales makes our gardening easier.”
Adelia also volunteers at Portland Audubon’s Wildlife Care Center, where she helps rehabilitate wildlife. Her experience there taught her that “it’s much easier to pill a hawk than it is a cat!”
Adelia and Brian recommend volunteering at Animal Aid for three reasons. First, “the resources, patience, and love that Animal Aid staff and volunteers provide the animals are really life-changing for the animals,” Adelia said. Second, because the shelter is a no-kill, free-roam facility, “you do not have to fear that the animals you will be working with will be trapped in a kennel or possibly euthanized.” And third, the shelter fills an important niche: “A devotion to and follow-through for finding animals their forever homes and a willingness to always take them back if it doesn’t work out. While some shelters focus on the quantity of adoptions, Animal Aid focuses on the quality of placements.”
The third reason is especially important to Adelia and Brian, because they adopted a cat named Tiger (formerly Baldwin) from the shelter in 2015. “We can always have peace of mind that if something happens to us and we could not care for Tiger, Animal Aid would be there for him,” Adelia said.
“We were fortunate to grow up with animals that enriched our lives and loved us unconditionally,” she continued. “We believe animals are sentient. Whether domestic or wild, we believe all non-human animals deserve kindness, respect, and a right to humane care.
“Animal welfare work is incredibly important, especially in the context of domesticated animals such as dogs and cats, because we have shaped their evolution and they are largely dependent on us to live high quality lives. Improving the treatment of animals in our community means a stronger and more compassionate community because the more that people can empathize with animals, the more we can empathize with each other.”