Tom Diss

Tom Diss and his macaw, Max.

One of the newer and very dedicated volunteers at YOUR Humane Society SPCA, Tom Diss, has been rewarded for his efforts by being named the shelter’s Volunteer of the Month for November. 

Diss spent most of his life in Ohio and grew up with plenty of pets, but mainly dogs. 

“Now that I’m retired, I wanted to volunteer to make dogs’ lives better while they wait to find their new homes,” Diss said.

He began by volunteering on Sunday afternoons but soon found himself filling in for absences or helping other volunteers who were working alone.

To allow more dogs time to exercise while there was a shortage of volunteer help during the pandemic, Diss began seeing where compatible dogs could share in more social opportunities together and took it upon himself to learn about the benefits of play groups, something being utilized by an increasing number of shelters nationwide. Once he started, other volunteers began to participate. And soon enough, play groups have returned to the shelter with regularity now, thanks to the help of more volunteers getting involved, according to the shelter. 

“I’m so happy the play groups are working out! It’s gratifying to see the dogs romp and play together and even cool off in the pools,” Diss said. 

Many videos of the shelter dogs in play groups are viewable on the shelter’s Facebook page “Animal Adoptions YOUR Humane Society SPCA.” YHSSPCA encourages people to check them out to see the adoptable dogs and consider giving a home to one – or maybe a pair of already compatible dogs.

Diss also researched techniques to satisfy individual dogs’ needs. He recently trained a deaf dog to use a vibration collar. 

“I was so proud of him when the first time I signaled, he left his play group to come running to me,” Diss said.

“Tom has given so much of his time to help the dogs and we are happy to name him our Volunteer of the Month for November 2021. Congratulations! We thank you for your hard work and dedication to the well-being of the shelter’s dogs. They are happier, healthier and learning important socialization skills which gives them a better chance to find a family to call their own,” the shelter says.

Diss’ interest in animals goes beyond dogs, too. He and his wife have a 27-year-old blue and gold macaw named Max. Diss built Max a birdcage lanai so he can fly and a perch on a golf cart so Max can go on rides. 

“He’s not our pet. We’re his staff,” Diss said. “If Max stays healthy, he should live another 27 years.”

For information on volunteer opportunities at YOUR Humane Society SPCA, Sumter County’s oldest and largest private no-kill shelter, call 352-793-9117 or complete a volunteer application at yhsspca.org/volunteer. 

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