Volunteer Spotlight: Mary & Steve Wildt

March 5, 2024

Mary Wildt started volunteering at the Humane Society of Missouri’s Maryland Heights shelter in 2003 after some encouragement from a coworker. Her husband, Steve, listened to Mary’s stories about the dogs at the shelter and decided to join her two years later.

For two decades, Mary and Steve have dedicated several hours a week to making sure the pups at the Best Buddy Pet Center get the love and attention they deserve. They come in two days a week and stay until all the dogs have been walked.

“The thing that keeps us coming back every shift is knowing we will make a difference for the dogs in the shelter that day,” Mary says. “If we had a role in getting a dog adopted, or in ensuring that any of the dogs had a better day than if we had not been there, this is what we find most rewarding. It gives us satisfaction that we are doing something for another, but we know it makes a difference in the dog’s life, too.”

Thinking back on some of her memorable moments over the past two decades, helping with the dogs from the Missouri 500 is the first one that comes to Mary’s mind. “That one will stay with [me] forever,” she says.

Mary has also been training new dog walker volunteers for 19 years and even trained Steve when he started. In addition to volunteering and training, the Wildts also fostered HSMO dogs for a long time.

“We ended up adopting some of the best dogs we ever had in our lives after fostering them. Ninety-eight percent of the fostered dogs would go back for adoption, but the ones we adopted ourselves enriched our lives beyond measure. Raven and Tessie are gone now, but Allie is still with us and just turned 9 years old. Our lives would not have been the same without our foster failures.”

The Wildts speak fondly of their time volunteering with HSMO and encourage people who are considering volunteering to seek out opportunities that fit their interests and capabilities.

“If you are a cat lover, volunteer with the cats. They need love, too,” Mary says. “Or if you are not able to physically handle the big dogs, volunteer in canine enrichment activities. Or you would rather be in an office environment, ask about the education department. We have volunteers who like doing laundry and they come in one day a week for a few hours and do laundry. There is a place for everyone.”

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