RSPCA recognises local standout volunteer

Michelle (centre) has been photographed alongside Board Director, Mia Steele (left), and RPSCA NSW CEO, Steve Coleman (right).

This month, the NSW RSPCA Volunteer of the Year Awards were held at Yagoona.

The Runner Up was awarded to Michelle Dreaper from South Penrith.

For the last eight years, Michelle has been a standout volunteer and foster carer, providing invaluable support for the RSPCA’s Sydney Adoption Centre. Some of her most notable contributions include the work she does with kittens and cats diagnosed with ringworm. 

“Thanks to Michelle’s incredible dedication and care, hundreds of ringworm cats have thrived and recovered in her home, instead of undergoing quarantine in a normal shelter environment,” a spokesperson for the RSPCA said. 

“Finding foster carers willing to help with our animals’ recovery is notoriously difficult. That’s why Michelle’s eight-year-long expression of compassion and love for animals has been invaluable to the staff and teams at our Sydney Adoption Centre. We will never forget the impact she has had on so many of our animals’ recovery and wellbeing.” 

The words of praise for Michelle’s dedication were echoed by fellow nominee Kellie Tickner, who writes the Orchard Hills Veterinary Hospital column in this publication. Kellie expressed her admiration for Michelle’s dedication and highlighted how Michelle’s efforts have made a significant impact on the lives of countless animals, particularly kittens, ensuring they have a fighting chance at a healthy and happy future.

“Michelle does some amazing work with foster kittens that are infected with ringworm. She is a lifeline for countless ringworm animals, providing them with love and care when they need it most,” Kellie said.

“The RSPCA Sydney shelter would be lost without her incredible dedication.”

Kellie was also nominated for her work with the Outreach team. “I was very humbled and met some incredible people,” Kellie said.

Michelle said “ringworm carers” were not common in the volunteer space and that there are many stigmas and misunderstandings about ringworm.

Treating and curing ringworm wasn’t something Michelle set out to do, the unofficial title of ringworm carer was bestowed on her after it fell into her lap during her first fostering venture.

“I found treating it was pretty easy and now have a process of medicating, bathing and culturing to  check the issue has been resolved,”  Michelle said.

“I go pick them up, bring them home and place them in our quarantine room, then treat them as required and give them lots of TLC and extra attention.

“The RSPCA supplies the food, litter and medication.”

The quarantine room, which has been adapted from a dedicated bedroom in the South Penrith home she shares with partner Mark, has been the foster nursery for several years. In that time the home has been the safe place for new-born litters with mum, countless kittens, some older cats and even some dogs. 

Michelle’s partner Mark is a built-in hands on helper, in fact it was Mark who was a cat person – Michelle wasn’t always a fan of them.

“I’ve somehow gone from not a lover of cats to the person whose friends list me as the Crazy Cat Lady in their phones,” Michelle laughed. 

Michelle and Mark have resident cats and dogs and when the foster pets are cleared of ringworm, they socialise together without any problems. 

It is very evident when talking to Michelle that she enjoys every minute of her role. 

“We absolutely love it, it is the highlight of our life,” Michelle said.  “It is so rewarding and even though it can be hard to see them leave, we are definitely excited about their future which may not have been promised.

“It is great to watch them go to their new family, their forever home and belong to someone.”

Due to the cuteness overload that is constantly in residence, Michelle said they are never short of visitors whom love to pop in and play. 

“Our friends love it, who wouldn’t love having a home that always has kittens! They love coming to our little zoo; our cat cafe.”

Michelle loves volunteering so much she has managed to devote her full time focus to fostering.

“It doesn’t pay as well as a full time job but it is certainly a lot more fun!”  Michelle said.