A self-proclaimed lifelong animal fan, David Glicksman says he had no idea how much his life was going to change when he decided to attend a meeting for new volunteers for the Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals in 2010. He was so impressed with the organization and its Coordinator of Events and Training, Barbra Tolan, that he couldn’t wait to start volunteering.
Glicksman remembers his first event, a pet cancer awareness walk that took participants and their dogs across the Brooklyn Bridge on what turned out to be a gray, rainy spring day. Glicksman snapped photos for the Alliance and recalls chatting with people whose enthusiasm could not be dampened by the weather. He says he was so inspired by the spirit and camaraderie of the day that he quickly signed on for more Alliance events.
Today Glicksman is a friendly fixture on the companion animal volunteer scene. He participates in the Alliance/AC&C/ASPCA lost-and-found program that helps reunite families with missing pets. He also routinely helps out at microchipping events and spay/neuter and vaccination clinics across the five boroughs. In addition, he regularly participates in adoption events, including Adoptapalooza and Broadway Barks. Glicksman may help set up booths, man tables and speak with the public, or lay down sod for a doggy agility course at an event. “David’s enthusiasm and willingness to jump in and fill whatever need is there is part of what makes him such a valued volunteer,” says Tolan. “And he’s also an all-around nice guy!”Glicksman has logged in countless hours as a volunteer, which includes giving generously of his time to the Manhattan shelters of two Alliance participating organizations, Animal Care & Control of NYC (AC&C) and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA). “This was the logical next step for me,” says Glicksman. “With these organizations, I get to work directly with animals up for adoption.”
So, look closely. That just may be Glicksman at the other end of the leash at an adoption event. He works as a dog’s handler, helping many a hound catch the eye of a potential new pet parent. At one recent ASPCA-sponsored event, David spent the day walking Lil, a little black poodle from AC&C. He was taking her for one last stroll when they encountered two women who were so enchanted with Lil that they adopted her.
David especially enjoys his role as a cat handler for both the AC&C and ASPCA shelters. He loves socializing the cats at the shelters, and calls it “playtime.” The extra time a volunteer spends socializing cats, talking to them, petting them, and playing with them, helps the cats relax in what can often be a stressful setting. And, it has been demonstrated that more relaxed cats are more adoptable cats.
David is proud of his status as a Level 2 cat handler at both shelters. This means, among other things, that he is qualified to coax more reluctant felines into participating in adoption events. That includes two older Siamese cats who only Glicksman could persuade to leave their cages at AC&C and take a ride on a mobile adoption van. Both cats were adopted that day.Glicksman’s love of cats and his desire to help them led him to Rikers Island, where he participated in a trap-neuter-return project spearheaded by the NYC Feral Cat Initiative of the Mayor’s Alliance for the island’s community cat population. He even traveled to Jacksonville, Florida, as part of a volunteer effort to help the ASPCA assist local authorities in treating 700 cats rescued from a sanctuary that was not properly caring for them.
“I want to do more,” David continually says when speaking about his volunteerism. In addition to his numerous other contributions, on behalf of AC&C, he is a regular on NBC’s Saturday morning Weekend Today in New York program, showing dogs and cats that are up for adoption. This requires him to drive in from his Long Island home at 4:30 a.m. and pick up the pets at the shelter by 5:30 a.m. in order to arrive at NBC’s studios in time for the live broadcast. After that, he returns the pets to the shelter and drives home. He arrives back home to his wife and their two cats around 8:30 a.m., well before many people have had their first cup of coffee on a weekend morning.
It’s easy to see how in 2012 David racked up 134 volunteer hours with AC&C and 375 with the ASPCA. “We affectionately call him a ‘triple threat’,” says the Alliance’s Melissa Donaldson, “because he volunteers for the Alliance, and also helps the ASPCA and AC&C.” In fact, David is even planning a “triple threat day” — on one single Saturday he intends to volunteer for all three organizations. He’ll begin with the NBC spot on behalf of AC&C. Then he’ll help out at an ASPCA free mobile vaccination clinic event, before ending his day lending a hand at an Alliance adoption event.In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, David’s tireless volunteer work included pitching in at the ASPCA pet assistance food distribution center as well as at the ASPCA temporary boarding facility in Brooklyn that housed pets whose owners were temporarily displaced by the storm.
It might seem as if Glicksman, who is also on the advisory board of Rational Animal, another Alliance participating organization, is a full-time volunteer but, he is currently employed as the Chief Financial Officer for a global investigative services firm. When asked how he manages to wear so many hats, David jokingly says, “I’m not getting much sleep, but it’s very rewarding.” He quickly adds, “I’m always learning so much. This is such rewarding work.”
Glicksman truly does consider his companion animal work a “second career,” and thinks that when he does finally retire from his current job, he will indeed turn to volunteering full time.
His advice for people who think they’d like to volunteer to help companion animals? “If you think you’re interested, just go and do it. It’s much easier to find the time than you think,” he says. If anyone knows that for sure, it would be David Glicksman.
David Glicksman appeared on Weekend Today in New York with Animal Care & Control of NYC on March 2, 2013, to promote the adoption of beautiful black kitty, Ninja.
About the Author
Thea Feldman is a lifelong animal lover, who is also a writer and editor. She has written many articles about animals and more than 100 books for children. She lives in New York with her favorite companion animal, Zoe Louise.