Volunteer Profile: Carole DeMetre
by Lee Chambers
Carole, with Harpy the cat, photographed by Sharon Mangieri
In September, a friend called Carole DeMetre about a spirit cat that had begun visiting her yard. Carole trapped the cat and brought it to Leverett where Madeline Nagy discovered it had a microchip which she was able to trace to the original shelter. The owner was identified as a woman who had become homeless and had been living out of her car with her dog and cat. In May, the cat had jumped out the car window and vanished. During the next few months, the woman was able to get back on her feet, enroll in college and find housing for herself and her dog, but mourned her missing cat. In September the two were reunited and her cat immediately jumped onto her shoulder.
A Series of Fortunate Events
Carole was destined to become involved with Dakin. A personal trainer, she met Janet Wilder Dakin who came to her with a shoulder injury. The two quickly became close friends. “She was inspirational, an amazing woman,” Carole recalls about the woman who founded Friends of Amherst’s Stray Animals in 1982, which has grown into Dakin Humane Society.
Janet Dakin died in 1994, but it would still be several years before Carole became involved in her friend’s legacy. Around 2000, Carol adopted her first Dakin charge, Sweet Pea, a beautiful black kitten with a little white on her chest, who had “mega toes.” She recently passed after 18 years.
An athlete, Carole ran triathlons including the Lake Placid Ironman Triathlon which established a fundraising challenge in the early 2000s. Coordinating with Patricia Yurkunas, Dakin’s late Director of Development, Carole took on the challenge and won first place for Dakin, raising $47,000 over four years.
After retiring from triathlons and from her own business Carole began volunteering with Dakin, beginning as part of Dakin’s “canine elite” group; dog walkers who worked with the more challenging dogs in Dakin’s care. She also trained new volunteers to work with canine behavioral issues. She has done behavioral evaluations with Dixie dogs and more recently has broadened her behavioral skills to felines, working with the Cat Pawsitive project through the Jackson Galaxy Foundation.
An Eager Participant
But her volunteer efforts extend beyond behavioral training. She also volunteers in Nick’s Nursery, Dakin’s kitten intensive care unit (“We’ve saved so many who wouldn’t have made it otherwise!”); represents Dakin at community events; drives a pet taxi between Springfield and Leverett; picks up donations from area businesses; and delivers pet food bank donations to the Amherst Senior Center and the Amherst Survival Center near her home in North Amherst. Most recently she has begun helping Dakin’s Media and Public Relations Manager Lee Chambers transporting animals and supplies for Dakin’s weekly Mass Appeal segment on WWLP/22 News.
Carole’s family includes numerous Dakin alumni: three parakeets; two cats, 5-year-old Tiger, an orange tabby who was returned by his original adopters and was “impossible” to handle at the shelter “who has turned into the biggest love bug,” and 7-year-old Mallow, a tortie with a congenital eye condition, who reminds Carole when she is due for her eye medication. Her three dogs include Trixie, 9, who came from Georgia and was listed as a Jack Russell mix with looks and behavior to match. But when Carole had her DNA tested, it came back 50 percent American Staffordshire Terrier, 25 percent American Eskimo, and 25 percent Chihuahua! Sheba, 4, from Texas, is a socialite who accompanies Carole in the Northampton Pride March and the Toasted Owl Gives a Hoot Halloween Fun Run 5K, and tested 50 percent Chihuahua and 50 percent Bichon Frise. No DNA test was needed for Ruby, who is all Chihuahua. When Ruby was surrendered to Dakin two years ago with a heart condition, she wouldn’t eat. Carole began hand feeding her and was hooked. Following heart surgery by a specialist in Albany and dental work she is doing great.
“I can’t describe the wealth of knowledge I’ve learned volunteering at Dakin,” Carole says. “I thought I knew a lot about animals but working with this incredible staff, I realize how little I really knew. Volunteering with Dakin is the most rewarding thing I have ever done in my life because I am helping both people and animals.”
Thanks to Marianne Gambaro for contributing this story. Marianne is a published poet and manages her husband Jim's fine art photography business. Learn more about her at margampoetry.wordpress.com