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How to Become an Animal Shelter Volunteer

How to Become an Animal Shelter Volunteer

If you’re passionate about helping animals in need, you may want to become an animal shelter volunteer. There are currently over 3,500 animal shelters in the United States. Whether you live on the East Coast, the West Coast or a middle state, there’s probably an animal shelter nearby in need of volunteers. Most animal shelters rely on volunteers to perform their operations. How do you become an animal shelter volunteer exactly?

What Do Animal Shelter Volunteers Do?

Animal shelter volunteers perform a variety of tasks. Some of these tasks involve the direct interaction with animals, whereas others do not. As a volunteer, you’ll probably have to provide food and water to animals, and you’ll probably have to clean and sanitize kennels. For boarded dogs, you may have to take them outside to walk and play with them.

Some animal shelter volunteers assist with adoptions as well. They take photos of boarded animals and upload them to the shelter’s website and social media profiles. Photos can help animals get adopted more quickly. If someone wants to adopt a new pet, he or she may look for photos on the shelter’s website or social media profiles. Volunteers are oftentimes responsible for taking photos of boarded animals.

You may have to answer the phone when volunteering at an animal shelter. Most animal shelters have a front desk. As a volunteer, you may be required to manage the front desk by answering the phone. People call animal shelters for different reasons. If an owner’s dog has run away, he or she may call the local animal shelters. If someone is looking to adopt a specific type of pet, such as a kitten, he or she may call local animal shelters as well. When volunteering at an animal shelter, you may have to answer calls such as these.

Benefits of Becoming an Animal Shelter Volunteer

You won’t get paid as an animal shelter volunteer. After all, volunteering is defined as providing your time and labor — typically for a community service or social organization — without monetary compensation. Nonetheless, there are still benefits associated with volunteering.

As an animal shelter volunteer, you’ll play a direct role in helping animals find homes. According to the U.S. Animal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty of Animals (ASPCA), over 6 million pets enter animal shelters in any given year. Animal shelters provide temporary homes for lost, abandoned and orphaned pets. Their ultimate goal is to find homes for these pets. When you become an animal shelter volunteer, you’ll assist the shelter in processing adoptions, thereby connecting boarded animals with new owners.

Volunteering at an animal shelter can help secure a job. If you want to work as a veterinary assistant, for instance, you can mention your volunteer work on your resume. Volunteering at an animal shelter shows veterinary clinics that you’re experienced working with animals. Even when seeking a non-veterinary job, including volunteer work on your resume will make you a more attractive candidate to employers.

Search for Animal Shelters in Your Area

To get started, you’ll need to search for animal shelters in your area. Most major U.S. cities have at least one animal shelter. Some of them, in fact, have multiple animal shelters. You can drive around the city in which you live while searching for nearby animal shelters.

You can also search for local animal shelters online. Performing a Google search for “animal shelters near me,” for example” will likely reveal a list of nearby animal shelters. If you’re still struggling to find animal shelters, visit some of the pet stores in your area and ask an employee. Pet stores typically partner with animal shelters, so they can point you in the right direction.

Complete an Application

Most animal shelters will require you to complete an application. The application is typically short and straightforward. You’ll have to enter your personal information — name, address, phone number, etc. — and choose the schedule for which you’d like to volunteer.

After completing the application, you can provide it to the animal shelter. Keep in mind that some animal shelters have a backlog of applications for volunteering. Therefore, they may not respond to your application immediately. You’ll have to wait for the animal shelter to review your application, followed by making a decision.

Go Through the Training Program

You’ll probably have to go through a training program as an animal shelter volunteer. The training program may consist of following or “shadowing” an existing volunteer.

The training program will likely last for one to two weeks. During this time, you’ll simply follow an existing volunteer, or in some cases, an employee. You’ll be able to see what the animal shelter expects of its volunteers during the training program. Once you’ve completed the training program, you’ll be able to volunteer on your own.

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