The world needs more people like Jennifer Baker. Despite the fact that she’s working a full-time job as a property coordinator while simultaneously studying for her master’s degree in nursing from Regis College, she also finds time to be an adoption counselor at the Northeast Animal Shelter.
After earning her degree in psychology in 2008, Baker decided to use some of her free time volunteering. She chose the Northeast Animal Shelter, in Salem, Mass., New England’s largest no kill shelter. She started with a couple of hours a week, but it quickly grew into more. “So many people volunteer just to play with animals,” she said. “But I wanted to work. I cleaned cages and walked dogs.”
Shelter managers soon asked her to become a part-time adoption counselor. Her psychology degree proved an asset in helping clients pick the dog that’s right for them.
All adoptions start with a pre-screen application process, and then the counselor must take many different factors into consideration including the adoptee’s working hours and family conditions such as the presence of young children in the household.
“These are rescue dogs so it’s important to make a good placement,” Baker explained. “Sometimes I have to put my conflict resolution skills to work. People will fall in love with a particular animal and don’t always understand that they won’t be able to take that same animal home.”
Her love of animals had led Baker to consider becoming a veterinarian: “I was interested in vet school but got discouraged because there are a lot of prerequisites, not a lot of schools to choose from, and really not that many jobs. And I’m very sensitive and didn’t think I would ever be able to help euthanize a dog.” Luckily that is something that never happens at the Northeast Animal Shelter.
As the recent recipient of a rescue dog, I can attest that the work Baker is doing is life changing for both dog and owner.
—Jennifer Gaul ’89