Yucaipa Animal Placement Society recognizes Monica Harris as Volunteer of the Year

By on July 14, 2018

Monica Harris has been named the 2018 Volunteer of the Year by the Yucaipa Animal Placement Society (YAPS). Though a resident of Redlands, Harris has devoted countless hours to YAPS since she began volunteering in August 2011.

Harris was recognized for generously giving of her time and dedication as the YAPS Volunteer Coordinator, Wags & Walk Coordinator and for being instrumental in the rehabilitation of Malki the once feral Shepherd/Dalmatian. Harris has also helped numerous other dogs get the socialization they needed to be adoptable.

Often, animals coming into the YAPS facility have experienced situations of abuse or neglect. Regardless of their situations, most of the animals are scared and fearful. Harris made it her personal goal to interact with the large shy dogs, dogs that needed experience walking on a leash, and the more challenging dogs. Though she has volunteered in many capacities at YAPS perhaps her largest contribution has been to aid these pets on their journey home.

Malki arrived at YAPS in June 2015 and was street smart and untrusting of humans. She, and more recently her two pups, had been roaming for some time, surviving the elements and predators. She was named for the street exit off Interstate 10 where the fire and police departments, along with YAPS volunteers, captured her and the pups. But it was Harris who extended herself to personally help to rehabilitate Malki.

“No one had attempted to get near her as they were unsure of her reaction and were respecting her boundaries,” said Harris, “so we decided I would give it a try and I recruited a few volunteers and Holly, YAPS Pet Care Manager, to create Team Malki.”

With Harris in the lead Team Malki saw the once terrified dog progress from only being able to read to her in a soothing voice, to slowly leaving her kennel for walkabouts on the YAPS property after hours to learning to trust. She would not allow anyone to touch her and the very first time she got close enough to Monica to give her a lick was over a year since her arrival at YAPS.

“Initially, I would toss treats in her direction, then have her eat out of my hand. I also worked on her allowing me to approach her when she sat to reach the eventual goal of touching her,” says Harris.

Fast-forwarding a bit, today Malki now walks well on a leash, obeys commands, enjoys getting scratched behind the ears and she has even learned how to bring in the newspaper. After a trial period in Harris’s home with Harris’s dog, Rio, Malki has spent 6 months in a caring foster home and is ready for her forever home. Much of the credit was the successful rehabilitation on Malki goes to Harris.

“We are truly thankful for our volunteers. Their help is vital to the pets at the YAPS facility and I am inspired by the dedication of our volunteers. Monica has filled an important role here at YAPS and we are fortunate that she is part of our team,” says YAPS Executive Director Annette Florez.