Larissa Chantell is a volunteer and placement partner manager at the Animal Protection Society of Durham.

How did you first get involved with the Animal Protection Society? 

I’ve been involved with APS since I was eight years old. When I first moved to North Carolina with my mom, we would visit the shelter every weekend, so it’s always been a place that I’ve held close to my heart. About five years ago, I was on social media and saw that they were hiring, and I applied. My love for animals got me the job—I hadn’t had any prior experience.

What was your first pet? 

Her name was Daisy Mae. She was a teacup chihuahua, and we were attached at the hip. I have pictures of her inside of my playpen with me. 

Has working at APS changed during the coronavirus? 

COVID-19 has just changed our whole process. All of our programs have been directly affected. With adoptions, we aren’t able to have people coming into the shelter, and we’ve had to switch over to doing virtual adoption. In March, we closed down the shelter to the public and our volunteers, so I had to suspend all in-shelter volunteer opportunities from March 13 until the middle of June. We’ve just started having volunteers coming back in. 

During that time period where we had no volunteers and it was staff-only here, we were responsible for 100 percent of care for the dogs, even taking them outside. Once the dogs legally became ours, our whole goal was to get them out of the shelter. We grew our rescue program and reached out to our local placement partners. Since January, I’ve transferred 238 animals with our partners.

Has interest in your foster program changed? 

Right now, in foster care, we have about 220 animals. People are looking for companion animals because they’re spending more time at home. A lot of people work a lot or just haven’t had the option to ever have a pet or volunteer, but now, because of COVID, maybe their situation has changed. We’ve had a lot of people that are super excited, and a lot of “foster fails” happen as well, where people are interested in adopting but end up fostering, and then they’re like, “Oh no, we don’t want to give them back, so we’re going to go ahead and adopt this one.” Yeah, so we love those. Even if it’s just for a night or for a weekend, taking a dog away from the shelter environment does so much for the dog. 

Are you a dog or a cat person?

I’m a both person. I love all animals. I only have a cat right now. His name is Gary, but he plays fetch better than most dogs I know. 

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