Former wildlife biologist finds dream job working with foster volunteers and their animals
Like many people in the animal welfare field, CAT’s foster coordinator Mary Chambers wanted to work with animals from a young age. As a teen, she volunteered at an animal shelter and had her sights set on becoming a veterinarian.
Then in college, Mary uncovered a passion for wildlife. After graduation, she took a job banding and tagging wild birds. She loved that she got to work outside and travel, but the job changed over time. “Like most careers in wildlife biology, eventually field work transitioned to office work,” Mary shares, “I lost interest in it once it became a desk job.”
Wanting to work directly with animals again, Mary transitioned her career to animal shelter work. She spent a year as a shelter assistant with Rohnert Park Animal Services in California before moving to Oregon to be closer to family.
In 2012, Mary joined Bonnie L. Hays Animal Shelter/Washington County Animal Services as an animal care technician. In this role, she gained additional experience in customer service and provided medication support for shelter animals. She also assisted with the shelter’s foster program, and it quickly became her favorite part of the job.
Mary even started fostering in her home, specializing in under-socialized kittens. Over the past nine years, she has fostered more than 100 cats and kittens!
When the foster coordinator position opened up at CAT, Mary jumped at the chance. Since joining our team in 2017, Mary has helped grow and streamline CAT’s foster program. She onboards and trains new foster volunteers, manages transportation and medical scheduling for foster animals, and provides medical triage support for foster families.
“A background as a veterinary assistant is very helpful in this role,” says Mary. “I’ve also gained a lot of knowledge through free training offered by ASPCA Pro, Maddie’s Fund, and the Kitten Lady.”
As much as Mary loves to see kittens and cats thrive in foster care, she is equally amazed at the dedication of foster volunteers. The foster coordinator role has more interaction with people than with cats, but this animal lover is fulfilled.
“Foster volunteers are very enthusiastic and invested in their animals,” Mary says. “They are why I love doing what I do.”