By Kim Steele

Killeen Daily Herald

HARKER HEIGHTS - Beth Robinson had her eye on the Harker Heights Pet Adoption Center long before it opened.

Robinson, 41, had quit her paid job at CenTex Humane Society's Second Chance Animal Shelter and was interested in volunteering at the new facility. So when the pet adoption center opened its doors in December 2010, Robinson quickly made her way there and staked out the area she wanted to handle.

"I knew the city was opening a new shelter and needed volunteers for it, so I started hanging around," said Robinson. "They didn't have a reception staff there, so I said that would be mine. I've been doing it ever since."

Robinson, who lives in Harker Heights, logged 577 hours of volunteer service in 2011, dealing with the dogs and cats taken in and adopted out of the facility, as well as the customers who want them. She spends about 42 hours a week there, and is the main face customers see at the front desk and voice they hear on the telephone.

Harker Heights police Lt. Loretta Fox said Robinson has become an integral part of the pet adoption center, and her volunteer work is appreciated. Fox has been in charge of animal control for the police department since 2000.

"Beth is great, and she's a definite asset," said Fox. "She is kind and polite, and she handles the hub of the facility. We try not to overwork her. We often tell her she should take time off, but she always says, 'No, I'm fine.'"

Robinson greets customers, shows the animals, fills out adoption and surrender paperwork and counsels those who want to take home animals, making sure they understand their obligations. Robinson said she wouldn't mind getting paid for her efforts, but that's not why she volunteers so many hours.

"I love the animals and do it for them," said Robinson. "I've always loved animals, and I root for the underdogs. I have a mothering instinct that would drive people nuts, but it doesn't bother the animals. It makes me want to take care of them and make sure no one ever hurts them again."

Robinson said she is proud that the pet adoption center, while it is a kill facility, hasn't had to euthanize any animals unless they were very ill. Robinson said the center's friendliness and cleanliness encourage adoptions, and the high turnover rate gives staff and volunteers more space and time to work with animals.

"I consider it a score every time an animal who has had a hard life gets adopted," said Robinson. "And I would recommend that more people volunteer here, because they would be helping defenseless animals that can't help themselves."

How to help

The Harker Heights Pet Adoption Center takes in and finds homes for many feral, lost, stray and owner-surrendered cats and dogs. Last year, the pet adoption center, at 403 Indian Trail, adopted out 795 cats, dogs and other animals.

The pet adoption center is manned by four full-time employees who run the facility and answer animal control calls. It has about six active volunteers and 15 foster parents.

To volunteer or find other ways to help, call (254) 953-5472

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