There are many reasons that people volunteer at shelters. For some, volunteering is a way to give back, a way to spend a few hours on any given day doing good deeds, a way to indulge into one's love for animals. For Billy Eichhorn, volunteering was an activity that saved his life.
Billy began volunteering with shelters in 2002, a time when he was battling major depression as a result of hardships he endured throughout his life. For nearly 15 years Billy battled with Major Depressive Disorder, PTSD, Alcoholism, Drug Abuse and self harm, all of which were the products of being sexually abused as a child. In 2002, Billy had a nervous breakdown and admitted himself to a local psychiatric hospital for help. One day his therapist recommended he take up volunteering somewhere, and Billy chose to volunteer at a local shelter.
While volunteering Billy had met a dog named Baby, a dog he had no idea would have such a monumental role in his recovery. Baby was a chunky, brindle coat Pit Bull that had a scar from the base of her neck to the base of her tail, a result of a cruel and senseless act of someone pouring acid on her. Baby quickly became Billy's favorite dog and their relationship brought Billy a sense of joy his life had been missing for years. Baby was a happy, loving dog that never showed any resentment about her abuse to any humans she ever interacted with, she had simply moved on. Over time, Baby helped Billy realize that he too could move on from his history of abuse.
He began volunteering with Great Plains SPCA (a no kill shelter in Independence, Missouri) a year ago and he spends most of his time with their shy and fearful dogs who many times have temperaments that require advanced animal handling skills, patience, and persistence. Billy shares a deep connection with these dogs because he can relate to the challenges they face and their need for a trusting hand. A parallel he sees, with the dogs he spends so much time with, who have come from a history of pain and suffering for a second chance. A parallel to his own life, who was healed by dogs in a time when he needed them most. This video captures the ways dogs in need have helped him overcome heartbreaking challenges and how he gives that back to dogs who desperately need him.