Volunteer Spotlight: Patty Zelno

Patty Zelno joined the DAWS team as a dog walker nine years ago. “I was looking for a way to get out and socialize with others, while also giving back to the community, explains Patty. “I’ve always loved animals and thought that spending time with them would be a great way to fulfill that need.” In addition to walking dogs, she is also a team lead and dog photographer. Our Dog Chairperson, Cecilia Starck says, “Patty is not only a great asset to the animals, but also to her peers as well. She is always willing to lend a hand whenever needed.”

Since she started volunteering, Patty has witnessed hundreds of dogs come and go and many memories have been made. We see many shy, scared, and confused dogs come into our kennel. They don’t always understand why they are there, and many have had rough starts to their lives. Patty shares, “the best memories I have are those where these timid and fearful dogs come to realize that we are there to help and provide them with positive experiences. Soon, they begin to trust us and seek comfort in our visits. I love seeing a dog wag their tail in anticipation when taking them out of their kennel, or see their face light up with a smile while out on their walk.”

DAWS has changed Patty’s life in so many ways. The connections she has made with both the dogs and community has given her a sense of purpose and makes her truly appreciate what she has. “I am grateful for the friendships that I’ve made, and for everything I’ve learned from all the great volunteers and staff at DAWS. I am especially elated when I see the dogs go to a great home and continue to grow and thrive with smiles on their faces.”

With nearly a decade of volunteering under her belt, Patty continues to spread awareness and encourages others to get involved with animal rescue. “If anyone is looking to volunteer with their local shelter or with us, I would say just do it! You will learn so much about the animals, and yourself in the process. You will give an animal happiness, even if just a short while, and in return, they will give you so much more joy and exhilaration – there is no other feeling like it in the world,” says Patty.

Born and raised in Danbury, Patty has a daughter and shares her home with their dog, Shelly, and three cats, Snowball, Athena and Beans. When she’s not at DAWS, she enjoys hiking with her pup, putting together puzzles, and is always on the lookout for new adventures to try with friends and family. While she loves dogs, elephants are her favorite animal and one day she hopes to volunteer with these amazing creatures in Thailand.