17-year-old volunteers at PetSpace to help animals
By Michele Robinson
Seventeen-year-old Max Huber is passionate about helping animals and has logged over 300 volunteer hours at Wallis Annenberg PetSpace in Playa Vista.
“It’s easy to want to volunteer there,” Huber says. “The staff is very welcoming, warm and friendly. They make me feel very comfortable.”
A Playa Vista resident, Huber always wanted pets in his life. Since he was 5, he begged his parents for a dog. His persistence finally paid off five years later when they adopted Bauzer, which helped to spark his love of animals.
“All animals have their own personalities, each is a different and fun experience,” Huber says.
By the age of 13, Boy Scouts no longer appealed to Huber. Looking for a fresh way to volunteer in the community, he sought out the newly opened PetSpace.
From then on, he spent much of his free time, including weekends and school breaks, volunteering at the rescue.
“I volunteer about two to four hours every Saturday or Sunday,” Huber says. “Summer break is a great time to volunteer because I can spend more time there than during the school year.”
Because teens younger than the age of 15 need an adult volunteer to accompany them, his mother, Stefanie, is also a long-term volunteer.
Huber can volunteer on his own now, but they continue to volunteer together.
“We do it together,” Stefanie says. “We hang out and both look forward to it. It also helps keep us close during the teen years, which has been really nice.”
To volunteer, Huber and his mother attended training sessions for each volunteer job they performed.
“Before COVID, we got to work one on one with the animals and got on the job training,” Huber says. “You also learn as you go.”
Huber stays passionate by diversifying his volunteer activities. He enjoys helping out with Paws and Pages storytime, Mutt Manners and Agility dog training classes, animal care and guest services.
Paws and Pages is geared for children ages 2 to 10 on Saturdays and Sundays at noon. For storytime, their duties depend on what is needed. This may include craft testing, distributing crafts, and introducing the special pup for adoption with their handler.
For the Mutt Manners and Agility community training classes, they volunteer as an assistant.
This includes welcoming and checking in the guests and their pups, and making sure they have doggie blankets, treats and water for class.
For animal care, they get to socialize and play with the kittens and cats, and tidy the animal rooms and facility as they go. And for guest services, they can talk with potential adopters and show them around the facility.
“I like that there is so much to do there including a diverse amount of activities,” Huber says. “I help with story time for kids by preparing the crafts. I also assist in the dog training classes, enrichment, and do whatever it takes to make the class run smoothly.”
Huber is a junior at New West Charter School in West Los Angeles.
Maintaining a 4.0 GPA, academics are important to him. Although he is enrolled in all honors classes, he particularly excels in STEM subjects.
When Huber isn’t volunteering at PetSpace, he tutors friends in calculus, chemistry and physics.
His parents pay him to tutor his younger sister in algebra.
He plans to major in biochemistry in college with the hopes of becoming a veterinarian.
Huber is so passionate about becoming a veterinarian that for spring break he went to Countryside Veterinary Services in Knoxville, Tennessee, to participate in a preveterinary internship with farm animals. During the internship, he worked with dogs, cats, reindeer, sheep, horses and goats. He also observed canine veterinary surgeries and received hands-on training. He assisted in administering vaccines and grooming procedures.
“I had the opportunity to help a newborn colt learn to nurse from its mother,” Huber says.
Huber also hopes that his efforts will inspire other teens to volunteer at Annenberg PetSpace.
“It’s always a good idea to help your community with whatever you are passionate about,” Huber says. “It’s fun to volunteer and cool to give back.”
Wallis Annenberg PetSpace