If you love working with animals, volunteering at a local shelter is a great way to help out in your community. Most shelters rely on the help of dedicated volunteers to stay up and running and would be glad to have you on board.
Tips for Finding Local Shelters
To get started, locate shelters in your area by doing on online search, such as through PetFinder.com. Find the ones within reasonable traveling distance and write down the contact information. Some organizations feature information about volunteering on their websites while others require a phone call to find out about how they handle the process. Make sure that their mission goals mirror your own.
Discover What a Shelter Needs
Start contacting shelters using the information you gathered. Ask volunteer positions they have to see how your skills match up. You might be surprised at the variety of positions that volunteers can fill at a shelter. In addition to taking care of the animals, volunteer positions may include:
- Adoption counselors
- Veterinary assistants
- People to help with behavioral training
- Secretarial or office workers
- Helpers to clean the facility
- Webmasters or social media gurus
- Pet foster parents
- Outreach and event coordinators
Learn the Application Process
Once you know what you can help out with at the shelter, you’ll need to fill out an application. Find out if there is one general volunteer application or if the shelter has different forms for specific positions. You may be able to fill out the form online at the shelter’s website. If you’re accepted after the processing period is over, the shelter may require you to attend a training session before you start work.
Find New Ways to Help
As you help out around the shelter, you may discover other areas where they could use a hand. For example, social media is becoming a bigger part of raising awareness of pets available for adoption. Taking high-quality photos of the shelter’s animals and posting them to social channels as well as to the shelter website helps draw attention. If your talents lie in these areas, offer to lend a hand in boosting visibility. If you’re the in-person type when it comes to social events, you can get involved with existing community outreach programs at the shelter or offer to set up a new one.
Enjoy the Benefits
Working in a shelter environment puts you in with a group of people who care about animals as much as you do. You’ll enjoy the camaraderie of others who share your interests and the joy in knowing that you’re helping animals to find loving homes. Volunteering is also good experience, especially for young people who are looking to expand their skill sets. It introduces you to new people and new situations, helps you learn how to handle different responsibilities and is also a lot of fun.