Ashton Hackler likes helping animals when she isn’t trying to help the Lady Miners get to state.

The incoming junior at Hartshorne owns a Miniature Australian Shepherd named Patton and two cats — a calico named Fuzzy and Hunter, a barn cat. 

Her love for animals made it an easy decision to become a volunteer at the Hartshorne Animal Haven in June.

“I’ve always loved animals,” Hackler said. “I’ve always had a passion for it. I mean, they don’t have a voice, so we kind of need to be their voice. We have to take care of them and I just really love doing it.” 

Hackler reached out to Joy Cline of the Hartshorne Animal Haven and asked if she could meet. She said Cline told her in person that a lot of work was involved at the haven, but Hackler was ready for it. Her first day featured an orientation, and she was tired afterward, but kept thinking about the dogs because they couldn’t do it alone.

She was shocked how many dogs there were the first time she came. There 19 dogs in 17 different cages upon her visit to the city pound on July 2. She told the barking dogs she loved them when she made her rounds toward the cages and said she’d be there the next morning.

Her main responsibilities entail socializing with the dogs. She takes them for walks and discussed the dogs having human interaction before going to adoption events and possibly be fostered and adopted. Hackler has also helped Cline with sanitizing.

She said the toughest part about volunteering is hearing about the stories of the animals and the treatment they have been endured. Hackler told of a story when staff at the animal haven found a dog covered in ticks that took hours to remove them all.

“It’s kind of sad to hear what they have gone through and what dogs continue to have to go through because many of these dogs have through a lot, and I hope that they find good homes,” she said.

Hackler does get sad when a dog is adopted after getting to build a bond with them, but said knowing a dog has found a family is the most rewarding part about volunteering. She said a few have been adopted so far. 

Her mother, Holly Hackler, is proud of the work her daughter has done.

Holly Hackler said she has noticed a difference in how her daughter takes care of their own animals at home.

“She’s definitely more in tune to what they need,” Holly Hackler said. “She’s giving them more attention, and I think she’s learned to how interact better even just with her own animals.” 

Ashton Hackler said she’s been volunteering once a week due to being busy with basketball camps with the Lady Miners. She does think she’ll be able to come more frequently for the rest of the summer.

However, she’ll only be volunteering once a week when school starts back up again, but knows she’ll be there at least through the next school year, and maybe beyond. She wants to stay involved because she loves what she does, and hopes others in the community will follow suit.

“It’s your hometown,” Ashton Hackler said. “I love this town and I wanted to do something for it. It’s something that would really benefit.” 

Contact Corey Stolzenbach at cstolzenbach@mcalesternews.com