To the Rescue: UA Little Rock student finds passion working for animal rescue organization

Brittany Wood, volunteer coordinator for CARE, plays with with rescue dogs Salsa, left, a black lab, and Milo, a Beagle mix.

A University of Arkansas at Little Rock senior and Donaghey Scholar has found her passion working in animal rescue. 

Brittany Wood of Little Rock has loved working with animals since she was a little girl. Until last year, the anthropology and sociology double major planned for a career as a policy analyst, but life took her in an unexpected direction.

“In 2017, I was working at a law firm as a bankruptcy case analyst. One of the lawyers I worked with is a case worker at CARE (Central Arkansas Rescue Effort for Animals),” Wood said. “She sent an email saying CARE needed volunteers, and I thought it would be cool to hang out with some dogs. I went there to volunteer, and my fiancé, Cameron Still, came with me. At the time, I wanted to be a policy analyst, but Cameron mentioned that I should consider working with animals.” 

Still, a May graduate of UA Little Rock who met Wood in the Donaghey Scholars program, said he’s never seen his fiancée happier than when she is working with animals. 

“When she volunteered at CARE, I could just tell that this was something that made her very happy,” Still said. “When she is working with animals, that is something that makes her happier than anything I have ever seen. I thought I was a dog person before I met her, but I’ve got nothing on her.”

Wood strongly considered the idea of working as a veterinarian or veterinarian technician, even going so far as to shadow a veterinarian. 

“It wasn’t for me,” Wood said. “I kept volunteering and hoped that something else would come along. Then a position opened at CARE. It was all really just luck.” 

Now Wood serves as the volunteer coordinator at CARE, where she is in charge of managing dozens of volunteers, planning weekly adoption events, managing social media events, and acting as the nonprofit’s spokeswoman.

Brittany Wood, volunteer coordinator for CARE, plays with with rescue dogs Salsa, left, a black lab, and Milo, a Beagle mix.
Brittany Wood, volunteer coordinator for CARE, plays with with rescue dogs Salsa, left, a black lab, and Milo, a Beagle mix. Photo by Ben Krain.

“One thing I’ve learned is that people are geared to look at certain jobs and ignore others,” she said. “I thought working with animals meant I had to be a vet. I never really gave serious consideration to nonprofits because it’s an overlooked field. Now I’ve discovered my passion. I’m never going to be a millionaire, but it feels amazing to wake up with a job that you love, rather than a job you do just because you need a paycheck.”

Wood plans to graduate at the end of the summer after the completion of her final project for the Donaghey Scholars program, where she is measuring how satisfied pet adopters are with their experience at CARE. 

“There will never be a shortage of pets who need homes, but there are only a certain amount of donations people give toward animal rescue shelters,” she said. “We need to be the place where people want to go to adopt pets. We also want to make sure we are doing the adoption process right; that the animals are going to the right home, not just the first home.”

Wood and her fiancé are currently the proud pet parents of a cat, Friday, which Wood has had since age 11; a dog, Luka, that they adopted from CARE in January; and Still’s cat of many years, Muppet. One benefit of Wood’s job is that she can take Luka to work.

“I think most of us want a job where we can make a difference in the world, and I think the trick is narrowing it down to how you can make the world a better place in a way that you are uniquely suited,” she said. “The first thing I ever wanted to do as a little girl was work with animals. I would encourage everyone to think about how they want to make a difference and how their skills allow them to do so.”

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