Laura Winking is self-employed with small business and is also the President of DAWG (Douglas Animal Welfare Group) in 2008. DAWG is a 100% volunteer group and a 501©3 charity in Gardnerville, NV. Its main purpose is to get every adoptable animal at the Douglas County animal shelter a home with loving people. The volunteers work with the animals 365 days a year at the shelter in order to learn their traits, check their health, give them medicine and love. DAWG pays thousands of dollars a year for medical, advertising and other expenses necessary to get the animals adopted. Thanks to DAWG no adoptable animals have been euthanized since it started in 2000.
Laura has been volunteering since 2001. As the President in 2008, Laura coordinates any problems between the shelter employees and the volunteers; manages approximately 100 members and or volunteers which has been labeled by some as “herding cats; chairs the general monthly meetings and all executive meetings; walks animals on a schedule with all the other volunteers; volunteers for fund raising events, adoption events, microchip/vaccination events and other duties at the shelter; appears on the monthly TV program Northern Nevada Lifestyles with an adoptable dog; fosters animals at home if they are sick, dying or when shelter is full (beside having dogs of her own); successfully negotiated the grant requirements for a spay and neuter grant between local veterinarians, the shelter and the grantor, and is available to DAWG volunteers and the shelter 8 hours a day, 365 days a year, give or take a vacation or a trip. Being available 365 days a year, eight hours a day, could entail opening the shelter on government holidays, phone calls throughout the day seven days a week, possibly up to approximately 50 emails a day, and having to organize a search party at the drop of a hat, for a newly adopted dog after a phone call from the owner any day of the week. To say her life belongs to the animals at the Douglas County Animal Shelter is the understatement of the century. If you don’t believe it, ask her husband, Larry Winking.
Laura’s first executive position in DAWG was in 2001 as the Treasurer, or as she likes to say, “keeper of the shoe box under the bed” which was a shoe box with $258 that the less than ten volunteers chipped in to help pay animal medical costs. Laura saw the handwriting on the wall and suggested dues, fund raising events and conversion to a 501©3 charity in order to pay for the animal medical expenses. In 2002, DAWG converted to a 501©3 charity. Since 2001 Laura has had the following positions: Board of Directors, Vice President, New Membership Orientation Coordinator, Volunteer Dog Walking Capitan and Fundraising Event Coordinator for events such as the annual yard sale.
Because of her thousands of hours as a volunteer and her political ability, the county and DAWG cooperate in a respectful manner. No adoptable animals have been euthanized since DAWG was formed in 2000. Any time shelter employees resigns or are on vacation or absent for any length of time DAWG volunteers step up and answer phones and help at the shelter. Laura coordinates these actions. Because of DAWG the residents of Douglas County can adopt animals that make their life richer.
Her volunteer work for the last seven years adds up to thousands of hours helping the animals at the Douglas County animal shelter find a home. She is definitely a hero to every animal at the shelter. Laura’s happiest and proudest moment is when any animal at the shelter is adopted and probably when she falls asleep after another long day of volunteering.
Laura Winking is special because she is the president of a 100% volunteer organization that must volunteer every day 365 days a year in order to get the animals adopted. It requires her to volunteer or be on call seven days a week for 365 days a year from 8am to 5pm for the shelter and all the DAWG members and or volunteers, give or take a couple of weeks off a year on a trip. She must deal with all the problems of DAWG, its volunteers and the shelter employees since she is the sole spokesperson between the shelter supervisor and the volunteers, which is politically challenging. She keeps the morale of the volunteers a high level while maintaining a working relationship with the shelter employees. Being the president of a volunteer group is likened to herding cats.