Ways to Volunteer at your Local Pet Shelter

woman walking a shelter dog
Pet shelters rescue animals from dangerous conditions, provide them with nutrition and medical care, and work tirelessly to find them a forever home. If you’re interested in volunteering at a local shelter check out the article below for some info on how to get started, duties and responsibilities, and the benefits of becoming a volunteer. 

Getting started

Once you’ve decided to volunteer, the first step is to visit the shelter in your area and fill out an application. If admitted, you will most likely be asked to complete a training course and an orientation before you can get started. 

What you will be doing

While playing, petting, and walking shelter pets is definitely part of the job, there are a variety of different duties and responsibilities that come with being a volunteer.
  • Cleaning – Shelters are very much in need of volunteers willing to get their hands dirty. With high volumes of animals coming and going, kennels, crates, and cages are always in need of a scrub down.
  • Feeding – With each and every animal in the care of a shelter receiving two meals per day, meal preparation and distribution can be a large task for lean or limited staff. As long as shelters are taking in animals, there will be a need for volunteers capable and willing to prepare and serve meals to these animals.
  • Meeting with potential pet parents – Any shelter employee or volunteer will tell you the ultimate goal is to find these pets forever homes. A critical step in the process is arranging and coordinating the meeting between the pets and their potential adopters. Once the meeting is complete and a decision is made, volunteers can assist with the completion of adoption paperwork and help adoptees complete the final steps of the process.
  • Office and Administrative duties – When you ask someone about volunteering at a pet shelter, office and administrative duties usually aren't the first things that come to mind. Paying bills, keeping careful track of expenses, and scheduling staff are needs that make volunteers with office skills invaluable.

Benefits of volunteering

The benefits of volunteering at a local animal shelter can be felt on both sides. For the pets, volunteers create safe spaces where the animals receive food, water, medical care and shelter. At the same time, pitching in at a shelter can bring volunteers a sense of doing good, help them gain valuable experience working with animals, and they can even make some new friends along the way.