Moved to action by a love for dogs, James Coughlin ’13 decided to spend his winter break volunteering at Helping Hounds, a dog rescue in his hometown of DeWitt, N.Y.
“Prior to my first visit, I have to admit that I was a bit naive over what I was getting myself into,” says Coughlin. “I originally thought that the shelter would be full of cute puppies looking for a home, which there were. However, at the same time there were many older dogs that had been incredibly abused, making them either very scared and apprehensive or aggressive.”
As a volunteer, Coughlin was responsible for walking and feeding the dogs, and cleaning their crates. He worked with all types of dogs, from puppies who were not yet housebroken or abused, older dogs. However, admits Coughlin, since the dogs did not come with a story attached, it was hard to always know which kind of dog you were approaching.
“The most rewarding aspect was being a part of helping those in need. The animals literally have no one in this world to care about them,” explains Coughlin.
More than just a volunteer opportunity, Coughlin found that Helping Hounds was also a learning experience. “While working there I learned a lot about the world of animal cruelty as well as how little our current laws do in providing adequate protection for animals,” explains Coughlin.
A political science major with a minor in environmental studies, Coughlin is a member of the Investment Club, the HWS chapter of Habitat for Humanity, the Hobart club lacrosse program and works as a tutor for America Reads. Previously, he was a member of Hobart rugby and served as an orientation mentor and a day of service site leader. He has also participated in the NYC Finance Experience and an alternative spring break trip to Nicaragua.
Learn more about Helping Hounds at their website, http://www.rescuehounds.com/.