VOLUNTEER OF THE WEEK: Dianne Gargaro puts the kind in humankind

Published 8:00 am Sunday, October 9, 2022

This week’s Vicksburg Post Volunteer of the Week is Dianne Gargaro, who volunteers at the Vicksburg Animal Shelter. The Vicksburg Animal Shelter houses unwanted or stray animals while helping them find their forever homes. Gargaro, along with her family, is from Vicksburg. She went to the University of Southern Mississippi for a Bachelor of Science in Psychology and Nursing. After 25 years, Gargaro retired as a Registered Nurse and had the opportunity to work in Mississippi and several other states.

How did you hear about the fostering program with the animal shelter? 

When I moved back to Vicksburg, I got involved with Paws Rescue after a stray kitten found me. I fostered for Leigh Connerly for a few years and then branched out as an independent rescuer when I met Lisa Giodarno Clair, who had connections with a Northern rescue. By that time, Kacie Lindsey had taken over the job of managing the shelter and Darlene Hughes had started the campaign for volunteers. I walked the dogs for a while down there as long as my back allowed me to, and started fostering. I started mostly with sick puppies and pregnant dogs so they wouldn’t have to deliver at the shelter and have branched out from there. 

Sign up for The Vicksburg Post's free newsletter

Receive daily headlines and obituaries

What is your favorite memory while fostering? 

My very first foster from the city shelter was a pregnant Rat Terrier I named Lolly. It was my first experience with watching/helping puppies be born. I worked as a labor and delivery nurse for a long time, so I was familiar with the process, but it was so special to see and help this little girl. She had six babies. She and all of them went to a great rescue in New York called CARE of DC and were adopted into great homes. I am Facebook friends with her adopter still. I love that I get to keep up with some of the animals that rotate through my home. 

What would you tell someone who is thinking about fostering? 

It’s not the easiest thing to do. You have to go into it knowing they aren’t yours, but still loving them and caring for them like they are. It’s hard when you have nursed an animal back to health and have to let go. You have to go into it knowing you have to let go because it’s the best thing for that animal, and it creates room for another one that needs you. And unfortunately, there is always another one. Fostering saves lives. It is the biggest joy I experience over and over and over. It is well worth the pain of letting go. Fosters are heroes. The shelter needs volunteers, even if you only walk one dog once a week. That might be the only time the dog feels the grass under his feet that week or some kittens get held. Fostering may be their only hope for becoming more social and adoptable. I urge people to get involved at the shelter in any way they can. It all makes a difference in the lives of the animals there. 

What have you learned from volunteering with this organization? 

There aren’t enough volunteers or fosters. There is a huge stray problem in Vicksburg. There are some extremely cruel people in the town who neglect and abuse their animals like they aren’t worth anything. 

Any additional comments? 

This town needs the new shelter we’ve been promised sooner rather than later. The situation gets direr for the animals as time passes. Vicksburg needs to enforce the rabies tag/collar and leash laws on the books. This is everyone’s problem, not just the “crazy dog and cat people’s problem.” More people need to start caring about animals. God gave us “dominion over the beasts.” To me, that means He is watching what you do with the gifts He gave us; and they are gifts, not property.

If there is a volunteer who should be featured, please submit their name and contact information to volunteer@vicksburgpost.com.