Tips for Volunteering at an Animal Shelter

November 9, 2022
Tips for Volunteering at an Animal Shelter

November is the month when we celebrate animal shelters around the nation. Our team at Animal Clinic of Woodruff is so grateful to the incredible volunteers who support our local shelters with their time, energy, and animal-loving hearts.

But what does it take to volunteer in an animal shelter and what kinds of factors should be considered before calling up the local shelter to dive right in? This blog will share three key tips before you take the next step.

Tip #1: Ask Yourself a Few Important Questions

Knowing yourself, and your animal preferences are key before you commit to volunteering. You can ask yourself questions like:

  • Do I prefer dogs or cats?
  • Is there an age range that I might be more suited for? Senior dogs can have a very different disposition than playful puppies. Shelters want to place their volunteers with animals that are well-suited for each other.
  • What kind of shelter do I prefer? There are many kinds of shelters, from those that are strictly “no-kill pet rescues” to foster-based organizations that are based out of people’s homes. Others may have a goal to increase the “live release rate” of their animals so that they are focused on finding good homes as quickly as possible, thus lessening their time in the shelter. Knowing the kind of organization that you want to partner with, or support will be helpful. Do your research to see what kind of organization best suits your animal welfare comfort level.
  • Do I have any animal allergies? You know those weekends when you went to Aunt Wilma’s house (even though you were allergic to cats)...and you regretted not taking allergy medicine a few days later? When it comes to volunteering at an animal shelter, you may be tempted to forego your allergic tendencies for the sake of helping animals, but this can backfire and cause you not to be able to fulfill your volunteering commitments. Be honest with yourself. If you’re allergic to say, cats, be sure to let the shelter know so that you can be placed with dogs.
  • How much time can you really dedicate to volunteering? It takes time to vet and train each volunteer. Considering upfront what time frame you can really commit will be helpful to everyone, including you!

Tip #2: Know what Duties may be Requested

When people envision volunteering at an animal shelter, it’s easy to have lofty dreams of frolicking in the meadow with little Fido, and then being doused with 1,000 wet-nosed kisses! While this is absolutely a possibility, it’s also important to consider the variety of duties and experiences that could include:

Tip #3: It can be Emotional

When you pour your heart into caring for and playing with animals, it can pull at your heartstrings. Occasionally they may arrive sick, or even injured. Others may be adopted and it can be hard to see them go. No matter what, you’ll be so grateful that you’ve spent time with each of the precious pet pals that you’ve been able to care for. Another key thing to consider: the animals are beyond grateful too! Your love, care, and support provide a safe place to rest and feel loved during what is likely a confusing transition time for them. Every moment that you are able to spend with them is a healing opportunity!

Here are some wonderful local shelters that we support:

To all of the animal shelters and wonderful volunteers out there, our team at Animal Clinic of Woodruff sends a great big “thank you” your way!

If you have recently adopted a pet, give our office a call to schedule an appointment to make sure they are up to date on their vaccines and overall pet health.

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