Updated: Mar 19, 2019
Little did she know that adopting a kitten from Fox Valley Animal Welfare League (FVAWL) would affect her life so dramatically.
Three years ago Aurora native Crystal Hoskins, then 22, found a cute little ball of black-and-white fluff she named Paris with the help of Aurora Animal Control and FVAWL.
“[Paris is] kind of a spoiled little diva,” Crystal said. [She] gets away with whatever she wants; she’s like my child.”
Crystal’s love for Paris, and all animals really, catapulted (pardon the pun) her into a life of service with FVAWL.
Although her background is in human healthcare, Crystal said her passion is really animals and animal welfare. “Helping animals/animal health care is really what I want my career to be,” she said.
After adopting Paris, Crystal began fostering cats and kittens, taking them into her home and caring for them, until suitable permanent homes could be located. She said fostering was one of the greatest experiences she’s encountered with FVAWL.
“It was great to take the kittens out of the shelter environment where they wouldn’t do well and just [watch] them evolve to get adopted,” said Crystal, adding that some cats would come into the shelter malnourished, dirty, scared or unsocial.
The young volunteer said she would sometimes foster the animals for a few weeks or a couple months. With one situation, she said, she kept a foster cat for four or five months.
And although she said it’s easy to get attached, Crystal believes that “you just keep helping. You know there’s a perfect home waiting for them and there’s another cat at the shelter waiting for your help. You have to move along.”
FVAWL President Ellen Wullbrandt said Crystal is a valuable volunteer.
“She has very nurturing qualities helpful when working with animals,” Wullbrandt said. “She reads their body language and behaviors well and notices when they need something, [such as] a kitten that has trouble nursing and needs extra help.
“Animals respond well to her. There is no doubt she is here to help as many animals as she can.”
In addition to fostering, Crystal helps with many other FVAWL activities, such as Paws in the Park, Walk for the Animals and rummage sales.
“No matter what we are doing, she is right there helping out,” Wullbrandt said.
Now that FVAWL’s new low-cost spay/neuter clinic is up and running, Crystal spends most Tuesdays and Wednesdays assisting in surgery or helping with recovery, sometimes until 7 p.m.
“Whatever the veterinarians need [or] whatever the [other] volunteers need, I’ll assist them,” said Crystal, who also works part-time as a nursing assistant at The Tillers in Oswego.
Wullbrandt added that clinic personnel “couldn’t wait for the clinic to open so she could help assist our veterinarians. She has interest in all facets of the clinic operations, and she has a diverse skill set that really benefits us in any role she fulfills at the clinic.”
Even though this is Crystal’s first experience with a spay/neuter clinic, she “thinks it’s great. I’ve learned so much about the importance of spaying/neutering in controlling the pet population.
“I’ve gotten to learn a lot of technical skills with the veterinarians and a lot of skills just taking care of the animals and assisting in surgery. I feel so grateful to be able to learn all this and volunteer here and help animals.”
As for the future, Crystal sees herself returning to school to become a veterinary technician.
“I’ve always loved animals. I’ve always loved helping animals,” Crystal said. “My goal is to somehow involve my life in animal care and welfare because that’s what I really love,” she said.
Thinking about Volunteering?
Crystal’s advice: “Some people might think, ‘I don’t have much time to give,’ but no amount of time is too small. Every little bit counts. There’s always something you can do; every little amount can help change the life of an animal.”