🐾 Lifestyle

What to Expect When Volunteering at Your Animal Shelter

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February 17, 2021

Key Takeaways

Do you love animals? Are you looking for a way to give something back? You might enjoy volunteering at your local animal shelter. During the cold winter months they fill up with animals and their volunteers tend to decrease. It’s the perfect time for you to get started. Here’s what to expect.

#1 Training

Regardless of the type of volunteer work you’re going to be doing at your local animal shelter, chances are you’ll have to participate in some type of training. This training is important because it helps protect both you and the animals in your care. For example, if you’re going to be taking care of small rodents like bunnies and guinea pigs, you’ll need to know how to handle them so they don’t get injured.

#2 Commitment

Most animal shelters require a weekly commitment from their volunteers. This helps them best manage their staff and make sure that all animals receive the proper care. If you cannot commit to volunteering an hour or two each week, it may not be the right opportunity for you.

#3 Choices

There are so many ways you can volunteer at your local animal shelter. Here are some of the myriad of opportunities:

- Dog walker – Help dogs get their daily exercise

- Cat handler – Play with and interact with cats so they’re properly socialized

- Dog coach/trainer – Work with the dogs to help increase their adoptability 

- Bunny/small animal handler – Work with the small animals to help socialize them

- Groomer – Help the animals feel more comfortable and more presentable by grooming them

- Adoption assistant – Help people and families find the best match for them

- Foster parent – Care for pets in your home and help train and socialize them making them better candidates for adoption 

- Fundraising/behind the scenes – You don’t have to work directly with animals to make a difference. You can volunteer your services and help manage your local animal shelter. Help with fundraising events, staff training, volunteer recruiting and more.

#4 Be Prepared to Get Your Hands Dirty

Working with animals is a dirty job. You may be asked to clean cages and you’ll most certainly come home covered in pet hair. If you have allergies or issues with getting dirty, you may prefer to help in a more administrative capacity. Don’t worry, all volunteers are appreciated. In fact, because so many people want to work with the animals, the administrative responsibilities often get overlooked by volunteers. 

#5 What’s Next?

Your local animal shelter likely has volunteer information right on their website. Visit their site and learn what you need to do to get started. If there’s no information, simply pick up the phone or drop in and see how you can help. 

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