Volunteering at an animal shelter is a rewarding experience. Animal shelters usually have little funding, which is a hard thing because running an animal shelter is a very financially draining process. Every dollar they get is squeezed into food, vet care, supplies and housing for the shelter animals, among other things like office supplies, vehicles and salaries. Hiring and paying employees to do a job is hard on them financially. Although they need to have regular employees to ensure all the animals are properly cared for, it helps if they can get volunteers to do certain jobs for free.
A volunteer can typically expect to do a number of jobs. Usually they are directly related to animal care. Most volunteers expect to just be able to play with the animals. This is the fun part of the job, but it’s not the only part. Lots of it is hard work.
There are a number of cleaning jobs an animal shelter volunteer might do. You might have to wash animal bedding and blankets. If you’re around animals, there are always dozens of loads of dirty laundry waiting to be done. Scrubbing food and water bowls and hosing out kennels is also a regular practice at a shelter.
Dog walking and socializing the animals is also a part of volunteering. It’s important for shelter animals to become obedient, house trained and friendly towards people. The more they are handled at the shelter, the better chance they have of becoming adopted.
Also expect to clean litter pans, scoop dog poop, feed, bathe and groom the animals. Of course, specific needs and jobs will vary from shelter to shelter. Although some of these jobs don’t sound incredibly glamorous, it’s a very rewarding experience and the shelter and animals will be very grateful for your help.
If you’re interested in volunteering, but not sure where to begin, try contacting your local vet’s office. Tell them you’re interested in doing some volunteer work for a shelter and they’ll be able to point you in the direction of a few good ones.
If you don’t have time to volunteer but still want to help, shelters are always looking for donations, both in forms of money and supplies. Shelters usually only feed a particular kind of food, so before buying dog food or cat food for them, call ahead to ask what they prefer or need.