Volunteer Super Stars

OPHS Has the Very Best Volunteers

All of our volunteers are awesome but check out our 2020 dedicated unsung heroes!


Sandra Miller

Volunteering with Clallam County cats at the OPHS shelter for 15 years, Sandra Miller brings, along with her photography and writing skills, no small amount of institutional and historical knowledge. Her tenure of familiarity, which she shares in an unselfish and unimposing manner, helps educate staff who have been with the shelter for fewer years.

Sandra is an Unsung Hero because her motivation is purely to help the animals - and help the animals she does.  A tireless advocate for the cats, Sandra donates her time performing a myriad of chores in Kitty City: from cleaning kennels and washing loads of laundry, to enrichment activities that enhance the quality of life for our residents. Nothing is too mundane if it helps the cats!

With the animals, volunteers, and adopters all in a small mobile trailer that is Kitty City at one time, it can easily become a very chaotic place. This is especially true when cats first arrive and are afraid in a new, active, environment. In an effort to help the cats decrease their stress level, Sandra suggested the concept of aromatherapy and explained to staff and other volunteers how to use it to calm the cats. She quickly became the OPHS cat guru.

In addition to her direct work with the cats in Kitty City, Sandra thinks about the future and OPHS sustainability. Sandra sits on the OPHS Design Committee charged with identifying use and design needs for the construction of a new, state-of-the-art Kitty City building. Being a consummate communicator, Sandra also is the Kitty City profile creator, helping to photograph the cats and write compelling bios.

And, Sandra is steadfast. After 15 years of working every weekend at OPHS, along with holding down a fulltime job, it is estimated she has come to know the unique personalities of over 7,000 cats! Her calming influence has helped many a feral cat come around to be more social and her knowledge of cat behavior is second to none.

Sandra is our Unsung Hero!


Patti Medenwald

While fostering is the life blood of many kennels that ensures animals get a much-needed break from a shelter environment, those willing to take in highly challenging dogs are few and far between. Patti Medenwald is just such a person and, for this reason, should be recognized as an Unsung Hero.

Providing a multi-pronged approach and using every tool in her tool box for the dogs that are harder to adopt because of behavior or temperament, Patti combines basic care with training, patience and love. Even her own dogs are used to help model how to be a good canine citizen. And, when Patti travels, she takes her foster dogs with her to ensure her constant and consistent influence.

Going above and beyond a typical foster parent, Patti willingly meets with potential adopters to share lessons learned and how to successfully work with the dogs to ensure permanent placement.

Patti is no ordinary foster, in addition to helping collect descriptive information for PetFinder and Facebook, she actively markets the animals to potential adopters in her every day life. While at the dog park, a community event, at her groomers or socializing the dogs at Home Depot, she tells everyone her charge is available for adoption.

Because Patti fosters harder to adopt dogs that have be abused, are fearful, snippy or aggressive, she often has them in her care for a significant amount of time. Subsequently, Patti has cared for some dogs for nearly a year until finding them the perfect forever home. She is stalwartly committed to their second chance on life in a loving home.

And, Patti decided to officially adopt 2 of her fostered dogs and considered a third. However, her commitment to helping dogs and people who love them alike, Patti decided to allow Edward, an older shih tzu she had fallen in love with, to be adopted by another. While a personal loss, her unselfish efforts meant she would still have room in her home for the next foster that needed her help.

Patti’s work with transforming dogs is a two-way street as both receive comfort in challenging times. “They are all the joy I have, all my joy,” Patti says with tears in her eyes regarding what it means to have foster dogs in her home.

Patti was right, after 4 years of fostering for OPHS, she continues to care for some of our most challenging little dogs and tirelessly asks herself “what can I do to help this dog become more adoptable”.

Patti is our unsung hero!