"Our Best Friends" is a weekly installment to honor just a few of our outstanding Best Friends LA volunteers. This is your chance to get to know some of the shining stars in the Best Friends LA volunteer program! Volunteers are either nominated by Best Friends LA staff or other volunteers in our program. If you would like to volunteer, email the Best Friends LA Volunteer Department at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Cesar Huerta - Honored November 2018
What BFLA programs/events/volunteer roles do you find yourself participating in?
I mainly volunteer with the adoptions team, showcasing our wonderful furry kids and helping the amazing staff process adoptions paperwork. I have also helped out a lot with the Dog Team on walks and in-kennel enrichment, and the Cat Team with enrichment, condo spot-cleaning, and Kitty City duty. But regardless of what shift I'm signed up for, I always try to make myself available to all staff for any help that might be needed, whether it's cleaning up messes, helping feed the hungry kids, or anything else that might come up unexpectedly.
Why do you choose to volunteer with Best Friends LA?
I have always loved animals, specially dogs, but never really thought about working at a rescue or adoption center. After adopting Belvedere from NKLA, I realized how much Best Friend's mission resonates with me and how truly passionate I am about animals and their welfare. Seeing how great the adoptions team is definitely helped convince me to give volunteering at NKLA out a try.
How long have you been a BFLA/NKLA volunteer?
My first shift was on September 15th so it's been officially a little over two months. I only started volunteering recently but I have found it incredibly easy to put in a lot of hours every week!
What do you do when you're not volunteering (career/extracurricular activities)?
I am a PhD student at UCLA, majoring in Aerospace Engineering. I also TA almost every quarter and I would love to be a professor once I graduate. Outside of school, work, and volunteering, I like to enjoy nature, go on hikes, backpacking trips, go rock wall climbing every now and then, and enjoy kayaking at Marina del Rey.
Do you have a favorite story to share about an experience volunteering with Best Friends LA? Share it!
There have definitely been many great moments volunteering at NKLA, from interacting and getting to know the staff, to walking with the dogs and playing with the cats. But the one moment that really stood out for me was the day I became a Gray Paw dog volunteer. I felt a great sense of pride in my accomplishment, and the adoptions team and caregivers truly let me know how appreciated I am and how much of a difference I am making in all our wonderful animals' lives.
Do you have any pets? Tell us about them!
Currently I only have one cat named Belvedere (or Belly for short). I adopted him from NKLA in September and he has adapted really well to his new home life. He is very affectionate, loves to cuddle and jump from couch to couch chasing his wand toys. Taking Kat's Cat Enrichment and Behavior class has definitely helped me understand and care for Belly a lot! I also adopted another cat from NKLA back in 2014 (original name was Sunny, renamed to Churro). Caring for him was a great learning experience and sometimes a test of patience, but Churro became an amazing, loving, confident cat. Unfortunately I don't get to see him any more, but he is still in a loving home and well taken care of. Finally, I had a dog named Pookie for 14 years, but she passed away last month. She lived a long and happy life with my dad and I am sure she felt loved by everyone in my family and everyone that ever met her. She was definitely the bestest dog I've ever met.
What others are saying about Cesar:
It is almost impossible to describe the impact Cesar has made at the center in such a short time! He has become not only one of our favorite people to work with (he is seriously awesome!) but an invaluable adoptions team member! He helps us with literally every aspect of the adoptions process and on the busiest of busy days, it's tough to describe how grateful we are to have him with us! Cesar is a special person that we are honored to work with! Thank you for your everything that you do here at the center Cesar! Your contribution to our team truly helps us save more lives! - Michelle (Lead Adoption Specialist)