- Associated Press - Friday, September 9, 2016

MOUNDSVILLE, W.Va. (AP) - Volunteer work is often described as a calling, something to keep one waking up and coming to work each day.

Jack Lee, a volunteer at the Tiffany Dlesk Spay/Neuter Clinic, has spent much of his life doing what he loves as an educator with Marshall County schools, and following his retirement he’s volunteered his time on Fridays to support the clinic staff, sterilizing tools for the upcoming week, doing laundry and making sure basic tasks get done.

Along with his wife, Teddy St. Lawrence, Lee has volunteered at the shelter since 2012, handling tasks from sterilization of tools to helping particularly big dogs onto the operating table.

An animal lover, Lee said he got his start with the clinic through contact with a longtime friend and founding member of the Marshall County Animal Rescue League, Barb Scanlon.

“We’ve both been in the people service business for a long time,” Lee said. “It’s kind of been what we’ve done. But there are people that have dedicated themselves for 40 years, and that’s why this (the animal shelter and clinic) exists. Volunteerism is essential. It’s the high point of our week. We get more from this than we’re able to give back to them.”

St. Lawrence added she and Lee were well acquainted with the workers before their volunteer work started, as they had adopted numerous cats from the shelter. Over the years, they adopted eight cats from the facility, leading their co-workers to refer to their home as a “mini-shelter.”

The couple tends toward adopting older cats, which have a lower rate of adoption from shelters than younger cats.

“It’s awful hard to look at them all day and say no,” St. Lawrence said with a laugh.

St. Lawrence added she feels the work done at the clinic is critical to local animals, where more than 8,700 animals have undergone surgery since its inception to control the pet population.

“The work they’re doing here to trap, neuter, release stray cats is really, really important,” she said. “It just makes sense. It’s the way to address that problem that’s most effective, and that’s growing. They’re in a position . that they can do feral animals, and that’s great.”

“They make sure the animals, even the feral ones, can reach a better end,” Lee said. “They’ll live longer, healthier, and make sure they’re not pests.”

Lee has struggled with throat cancer for some time, resulting in his eventual hospitalization at the beginning of the year. Even so, he returned to volunteer shortly after his release, returning to work in June.

Scanlon said Lee’s dedication to the clinic is highly admirable.

“This is a man who hasn’t been able to eat in five-plus years,” Scanlon said. “He’s an animal lover who certainly enjoys what he does.”

Prior to retirement, Lee served as a special education teacher at John Marshall High School and a principal at other elementary schools. St. Lawrence worked as a social worker for statewide children’s services.

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Information from: The Intelligencer, https://www.theintelligencer.net

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