As 3News continues to build up to this weekend's Gulf Coast Humane Society Telethon, we learned about one volunteer who spends time with the animals to cope with personal struggles.
16-year-old Heidi Gallagher has something in common with the animals -- they have both found shelter at the Gulf Coast Humane Society.
"They need people to help them and like, be by their side," Gallagher said, "and I want to be there for them."
Just like humans, animals that have been neglected or abused may be anxious and shy, so Gallagher, who lives with social anxiety, is helping the pets break off their shell in the wildflower room at the Humane Society.
"A room for nervous and like, anxiety dogs who are very shy around people," Gallagher said. "My safety zone. They will make you feel safe here."
Gallagher also lives with sub-clinical epilepsy and autism, but her struggles have only made it easier to help the dogs and cats that she works with.
"That is all they really want, to feel loved and like needed," Gallagher said. "I was connecting with them more so I knew how to help them."
Gallagher's coworker Lino Moreno may not face the same obstacles she does, but they share the same satisfaction that comes from volunteering at the Humane Society.
"It's awesome and you can make an animal really happy," Moreno said.
As Gallagher breaks free from the hardships of social anxiety, she is healing the lives of pets who have been through the unthinkable.
"They will make you feel like so, so safe, being surrounded by all these amazing people and by these amazing animals," Gallagher said. "It's just very, very heartwarming."