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What's Up Magazine

Towne Salute: Chris Collins Weinstein, Friends of Anne Arundel Animal Control

Jan 26, 2016 01:06PM ● By Cate Reynolds

Chris Collins Weinstein poses with Butler, who's available for adoption! Photo by Robin Catlett.

After retirement, becoming an empty nester, and moving to Annapolis (where she built a home with her husband), Chris Collins Weinstein decided to look for something of interest to occupy her free time.

She found the answer in dogs. And cats, rabbits, pigs, rats, birds, and a host of other critters that wind up at Anne Arundel County Animal Control in Millersville.

“We always had pets … But I was never involved in animal rescue,” she says. “So I came over here—it’s not that far from where I live—and I went through the dog kennel and walked through the cat kennel and thought ‘I could spend a bit of time here,’ so I took a volunteer application.”

She started volunteering with the shelter two years ago, spending a few hours a week walking dogs. Little did she know those 16 hours a month—the minimum time requirement for AACA volunteers—would soon become upwards of one hundred.

And while she still takes dogs on walks—though rotator cuff surgery has limited this task to smaller breeds—Weinstein also spends her volunteer hours aiding the rescue coordinator, creating flyers, helping out in the “cat room,” and a host of other responsibilities she gladly embraces.

“I get in the staff’s way and drive them crazy,” she says, laughing.

Additionally, Weinstein sits on the board of the Friends of Anne Arundel Animal Control, a nonprofit organization established in June 2014 to support the efforts of the shelter. As a government facility, AAAC is unable to accept monetary donations; they’re funneled directly into the county’s general fund, Weinstein explains. The nonprofit helps to raise money to benefit AAAC and cover costs not financed through the shelter’s budget, like vet bills, flea medication, surgery, and more.

Even though she’s long retired from her 34 years as a journalist, she hasn’t exactly escaped her reporting nature. She likens another one of her roles—as the content creator for AAAC’s Facebook page— to covering a beat.

“It’s ironic in a way because the very first job I had out of journalism school, I worked for a little, teeny newspaper in Sierra Vista, Arizona, and one of the things I had to do every week was go take a picture of the ‘pet of the week,’” she says. “Here it is, 45 years later, and one of the things I do is ‘pet of the week!’”

Unlike a reporter, however, an added bonus to her social media duties is the ability to advocate on behalf of the shelter and its inhabitants.

“We can speak up when the shelter has to be neutral,” she says.

Weinstein is so invested in the shelter, her efforts have followed her home in the form of five foster cats, whom she talks about so lovingly. And yet, despite all of the time dedicated to AAAC, she counts herself lucky that, at 66 years old, she’s been able to find a new passion.

“I’m really enjoying this,” she adds, with a smile.

Do you have a volunteer to nominate? Email Becca Newell at Bnewell@WhatsUpMag.com