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Working with Man’s Best Friend(s)

Gan Kavod Resident Finds Perfect Job at Humane Society of Rome

Just the right fit. 

That’s what Austin Ramocki feels about his job at the Humane Society of Rome. 

Ramocki, 28, lives in one of Sitrin’s six Gan Kavod residences – homes with 24-hour care for persons with developmental disabilities. Since April of 2020, Austin has been under Sitrin’s care, all the while showing the world what persons with disabilities can do. 

Austin began volunteering at the Humane Society of Rome (HSR) in January 2023; they liked his work so much that they hired him. A kennel attendant, he works closely with kennel manager Erin Schivas in the daily care of the dogs – power washing the kennels, walking the dogs, making sure that water and food bowls get properly sanitized, and much more. 

He also performs other duties as needed, including filling in at one of the society’s cat rooms. He refers to the HSR’s residents as “our babies,” and loves and treats them as such. 

“I never met a dog I didn’t like,” Austin says. “When I first came here, I knew that this was the right place for me.” While he loves them all, he does have a few favorites – among them Pork Chop, Truce, King and Skye. 

While it’s difficult to see these babies walk out the door with adopters, it’s easier knowing that they will begin a new life, Schivas says.  

“We love to hear how they are doing in their new homes,” she says. 

Shelter manager Robin Genovese-Kaminski says that in addition to being a good worker, Austin is a wonderful communicator. The staff calls each other via walkie-talkie, and Robin can always count on Austin to answer. 

“If I need another staff member, he will find them for me,” she says. He never ignores my calls, and always volunteers to help. 

It’s a very busy place, as the staff may care for as many as 100 homeless pets at one time. 

Austin came to Utica with his mother about five years ago, but his mom needed nursing home care until she passed away. Originally from Florida, he has a few family members, spread out among the southern states. 

The mission of Gan Kavod, says program director Lisa Frank, is to support people of all abilities, ethnicities and genders in having a quality life and becoming an integral part of society.  

And Austin exemplifies this, Frank says. 

“The Humane Society of Rome gives Austin the opportunity to thrive within his community and lead a rewarding, fulfilling life,” Frank says. 

It’s clear that the staff and volunteers at HSR recognize and nurture potential for both two- and four-legged residents of this planet. 

Staff members at HSR have a nickname for Ramocki; it’s “Awesome Austin.” 

We think that fits perfectly. 

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