Pete Kiley has been walking dogs at Palmetto Animal League for five years. His smiling face is a welcome sight for the pets and people at the PAL Adoption Center.
He shows up three days a week or more, including holidays, to provide homeless dogs with the love, understanding, consistency and exercise they long for. For dogs living in a shelter environment, each day brings new people passing through. Being able to count on a dedicated volunteer like Kiley gives them a sense of familiarity and belonging.
“In addition to being a dog walker, I also take PAL’s adoptable dogs to community events,” Kiley said. “I especially look forward to taking the dogs on field trips to local parks, shopping centers, neighborhoods, and more. It’s fun to watch them enjoy new experiences.”
Kiley will be the first one to tell you that while he takes great joy in helping homeless dogs, it’s the dogs who have helped him.
“A few years back, I was experiencing anxiety,” he said. “My wife told me it would be good for me to help these dogs. I finally took her advice, and from the beginning, I knew it was the right thing to do.”
Kiley not only cherishes his time with the pets at PAL, but the people as well.
“The staff members at PAL hold a special place in my heart,” Kiley said. “I see all the hard work, care and hours they devote to these animals, especially the ones with special needs. They have become like a second family to me.”
Kiley said seeing the love and compassion PAL staff members pour into each animal made him realize the importance of his role as a volunteer. One particular day, fate had Kiley at the right place and time to witness the impact of his good works.
“After walking five dogs, I was tired and about to head home when Jesse caught my eye,” Kiley recalled. “He looked sad, so I decided I could walk one more. We encountered a man whose dog had recently passed away. He sent a picture of Jesse to his wife, and just like that, Jesse had a forever family that he now accompanies to car shows with his very own chair and umbrella!”
Kiley has always had a heart for animals and currently has one rescue dog at home.
“Rescues have gone through some tough times, and they need that extra love so they can trust again,” Kiley said.
For Kiley, volunteering has become a way of life. It’s part of who he is. Helping homeless dogs find happiness, while also discovering a new level of peace and happiness for himself, has been a life-affirming journey.
“I enjoy each and every moment at PAL,” he said, smiling. “I never lose sight of why I am there. For me, it has been a win-win in every sense.”
Palmetto Animal League relies on volunteers to fulfill the needs of some 200 animals at their no kill adoption center located at 56 Riverwalk Blvd in Okatie. Volunteers who generously give of their time and talents, are helping save lives.
Anyone interested in volunteering with PAL can visit PalmettoAnimalLeague.org/volunteer for information on different opportunities working with adoptable cats and dogs, helping with community events and fundraisers, or assisting at the PAL Thrift Store in Sheridan Park.
Lindsay Perry is the marketing coordinator for Palmetto Animal League. PalmettoAnimalLeague.org