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Volunteers visit animal shelter

Master Sgt. Henry Cummings, 51st Maintenance Operations Squadron gives residents of the Korean Animal Protection Society's Boeum Shelter some tender-loving care during a visit to the facility April 13. (U.S. Army photo/Stacy A. Ouellette)

Master Sgt. Henry Cummings, 51st Maintenance Operations Squadron gives residents of the Korean Animal Protection Society's Boeum Shelter some tender-loving care during a visit to the facility April 13. (U.S. Army photo/Stacy A. Ouellette)

Monica Hoagland, Osan American Elementary School librarian, plays with a resident of the Korean Animal Protection Society's Boeum Shelter during a visit April 13. (U.S. Army photo/Stacy Ouellette)

Monica Hoagland, Osan American Elementary School librarian, plays with a resident of the Korean Animal Protection Society's Boeum Shelter during a visit April 13. (U.S. Army photo/Stacy Ouellette)

Stephanie Mounts and her husband, Lt. Col. Steve Mounts, 51st Medical Support Squadron commander, pose with Tahoe, the newest addition to their family. (U.S. Army photo/Stacy A. Ouellette)

Stephanie Mounts and her husband, Lt. Col. Steve Mounts, 51st Medical Support Squadron commander, pose with Tahoe, the newest addition to their family. (U.S. Army photo/Stacy A. Ouellette)

OSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -- More than a dozen volunteers from the Osan Animal Shelter visited the Korean Animal Protection Society's Boeum Shelter as part of a new good neighbor partnership, April 13. 

Every four months, the group travels to KAPS bringing supplies, treats, and lots of love to the nearly 70 dogs and cats housed at the facility.

Many animals were strays, abandoned and often abused.

"KAPS is the only humane-type organization for companion animals in Korea that we know of," said Danni Armstrong, Osan Animal Shelter volunteer coordinator.

Ms. Armstrong spearheads the training of volunteers, administrative tasks, adoption services and facility management for the Osan shelter. 

She also serves as a liaison between the American Red Cross, Osan Family Readiness Center and the Veterinary Treatment Facility staff.

This was the third visit Ms. Armstrong has made to KAPS. She discovered it via the Internet and decided it was a great place to build this type of partnership.

Volunteers gathered donations of food, toys, collars and leashes for the KAPS facility prior to the visit. The Osan community donated more than 650 pounds of dry food, 60 packages of treats and 80 toys for the KAPS dogs and cats.

It is a chance to help change a country by giving support to KAPS, said Armstrong.

Ms. Armstrong hopes to help KAPS continue to educate and draw attention to the need for humane animal shelters and stronger animal protection laws in the Republic of Korea.

"It is a chance to help change a country by teaching them about animal shelters. How can you possibly turn that opportunity down?" said Monica Hoagland, Osan American Elementary School librarian. "I am so excited to have such an opportunity to help a fledgling animal shelter in Korea."

Ms. Hoagland is one of the dedicated volunteers at the shelter, who was also visiting KAPS for the third time. As the recipient of Osan Air Base's Volunteer of the Year award, her vision is to give back as much as she can to support this partnership and make a difference for the animals.

"The great thing about volunteering is anyone can do it. The world could use more gentleness and kindness. Where else can you make a difference and impact an entire country. This is just a way I wanted to help," she said. 

Mrs. Stephanie Mounts and her husband, Lt. Col. Steve Mounts, 51st Medical Support Squadron commander, already own a 3-year-old female Great Pyrenees named Aspen. During their visit, they decided to adopt Tahoe to their family.

"I initially wanted to go to KAPS because I found out they had a Great Pyrenees dog, a beautiful male. My husband and I just wanted to see him and give him affection before our move back to the U.S. this summer," she said.

Master Sgt. Henry Cummings, 51st Maintenance Operations Squadron, began volunteering at the shelter in August 2007.

As months passed, he saw all types of situations volunteers could encounter at the shelter and visited KAPS once before this visit.

"They have big dogs who need personal attention," he said. "The people there try so hard, but there are too many dogs and not enough people or time."

Sergeant Cummings volunteers with the shelter due to his love for animals and ability to make a difference while serving here.

"If nothing else good comes from my time here at Osan, I will know that I've done something worthwhile," he said. "I'd do it again in a heartbeat."

Most of the current shelter volunteers are servicemembers or family members with limited tours here.

Ms. Armstrong hopes to find and train more volunteers to ensure the partnership with KAPS continues and have the animals placed in good homes.

For more information, e-mail the Osan Animal Shelter at osananimalshelter@gmail.com.