by Lee Chambers
Call her the rat whisperer. Although she loves all animals, Dakin Volunteer Kimber Bennett has a special affinity for Dakin’s “smalls.”
In fact, you can often spot her walking around Dakin’s lobby with a rat or mouse perched on her shoulder! Kimber’s love affair with rats started 10 years ago, when her son convinced her to adopt one. Kimber jokes that once she got over thinking, “Oh my God, I own a rat!” she started to truly appreciate their qualities. “They’re social, trainable, great companions, and don’t bite,” she explains. She urges people to “come meet them, hold them, pet them” and see firsthand what makes them so special.
Kimber has been volunteering at Dakin since January of 2016. As she says, “I had always wanted to work with animals and had Dakin in the back of my mind.” Once she made the decision to volunteer, “The first day couldn’t come soon enough!” Kimber’s primary duty is small animal care, but she also helps with fostering, animal transport, and Nick’s Nursery. As a photographer, she highlights the “smalls” in innovative photos, often involving props, such as dollhouse furniture and toy vehicles, for Dakin’s website. Kimber notes that not all photographers are comfortable or experienced in handling smaller animals and you have to take dozens of photos to capture that perfect image. “I have over three thousand pictures on my phone, and I’m constantly running out of memory!” she says.
Caring for others is in Kimber’s blood. She worked for 25 years as a nurse, until a serious accident four years ago left her unable to return to work. Surprisingly, she says this is a good thing. “I used to be a workaholic,” she admits. Now, she focuses on helping animals in need, which she often does in her own home. And it’s a family mission. Kimber’s husband, Jim, 15-year-old son Heath, and 13-year-old daughter Heather, all pitch in with their furry houseguests and Heather accompanies her mom to Dakin to help out.
Kimber is thankful that Dakin is unique in that volunteers are directly involved in animal care and are not strictly doing clerical work. Volunteering at Dakin has also given Kimber the opportunity to interact with a variety of people and develop friendships with the staff and other volunteers. She couldn’t be happier that her journey has brought her to Dakin. As she succinctly puts it, “I’m where I’m meant to be.”
Big thanks to Cristina Fernandez for contributing this story.
We thank Kimber, Cristina and all of our fantastic volunteers for the incredible gifts they bring every day as they join us in helping animals. If you’d like to know more about becoming a Dakin volunteer, click here.