FAIRMONT - Reece Riegel is only 12, but he's already become a reliable volunteer at the Carl Nettifee Memorial Shelter, located at 522 E. Margaret Street.
"He's a great kid," said Nancy Fetters, treasurer of the Martin County Humane Society. "As a rule, we would not let a 12-year-old be here without an adult (guardian), but he proved to be so trustworthy and so good."
"Absolutely amazing," added Pat Wink, a volunteer. "He takes initiative. We have to remember he's as young as he is because he's so responsible."
Reece Riegel relaxes with Ragu, a pit bull-mix puppy, at the Carl Nettifee Memorial Animal Shelter, where Riegel volunteers. Riegel likes working with the dogs and said he’s teaching Ragu to fetch.
Riegel moves around the shelter - filling water and food bowls, changing the bedding, cleaning the pens and distributing medications - with practiced ease.
There's nothing he won't do, said Wink, but Riegel admits he prefers working with the dogs over the cats.
His favorite thing to do is "probably just play around with the dogs," he said.
One of his special charges is a pit bull-mix puppy called Ragu, who Riegel is teaching to fetch.
"I really like her," he said.
"They're my favorite breed," he said about the pit bulls. "Everybody thinks they're mean, but every one who's come here is the nicest dog ever."
Riegel's calm steadiness belies the fact he started volunteering only at the beginning of the summer, after his family adopted a Chihuahua from the shelter.
"I saw 'em all and they were low on volunteers, so I thought I'd help," he said.
His family supported his decision and someone makes sure he gets to the shelter so he can help out the three times a week the facility is open to the public.
Riegel intends to keep up that pace, even though school has started. He figures he can juggle his work at the shelter and school, but he welcomes company.
"We could always use volunteers," he said.
More information on the humane society and its fund-raising efforts is available on page 2 of today's Sentinel.