WEST SENECA, N.Y. — The pandemic has been both a blessing and a curse for those working at the SPCA serving Erie County.
With more people spending time working from home, pet adoptions are at all time highs. However, with the demand for dogs and cats on the rise, volunteers are spending more hours doing their best to help these animals find new homes, all while limiting the number of staff in the shelter to abide by COVID-19 safety protocol.
Among all these unsung heroes, one volunteer, with a soft spot and an understanding of cats, stands above the rest.
"I like people and I love cats. And the combination is just wonderful," said Cary Munschauer, a cat behavior consultant and SPCA volunteer.
It's said you can learn a lot about a person by the way they treat animals.
"These animals come first in Cary's life," said Gina Lattuca, SPCA chief communications officer.
Even in a building filled with animal lovers, Munschauer is an inspiration.
"You hear Cary talking with a group of people, potential adopters and it's that instantaneous reminder of what we're all doing here in the first place. It reignites passion that may have gone out for a little while," said Lattuca.
After years in medicine treating people, Cary decided it was time for something new. Following the death of her parents, she felt a calling to pursue her passion.
"I went to vet tech school and I really became interested in the behavior side of things. So I pursued cat behavior and I actually got certified a couple years ago as a cat behavior consultant," said Munschauer.
Hundreds of cats, all with different challenges, come in and out of the building. For Cary, truly understanding a cat's behavior is the key to finding them the perfect home.
"Cats are one of only two domestic species that are both predator and prey," Munschauer said. "We're very fortunate to be apart of their journey, and if we can have them come out the other end happy and adjusted and loved by a new family... that's it."
For seven years, Cary has dedicated her life to making sure these animals know what human kindness looks like. During the pandemic, she's upped her volunteer schedule to six days a week.
"I'm getting a little teary-eyed just trying to explain how great she is," said Bethany Kloc, SPCA communications manager.
Like most real heroes, Cary has little interest in recognition. Besides, she's too busy doing what she loves.
"Every animal should have a wonderful happy home. We do it until all of the cages are empty right?" she said.