How to Volunteer at an Animal Shelter  > Animal Shelters >  How to Volunteer at an Animal Shelter
Animal Shelter Volunteer with a dog

Someone that always loved pets or animals, might have come with the idea some time to volunteer at an animal shelter.

With that decision, comes several questions:

  • Where to look for volunteer opportunities?
  • What are the pros and cons of volunteering at a shelter?
  • What are the steps to becoming a volunteer at an animal shelter?
  • How often can one volunteer in an animal shelter?

We answer these questions here. We hope this leads to more people making the choice of volunteering because there needs to be more room for volunteers at all shelters. If you don’t have the time, please consider donating funds or supplies instead. A donation goes much farther than bringing your fleeting attention.

So, how to volunteer at an animal shelter?

The first step is to find a shelter and visit it. Preferably one close to where you live.

Many shelters care for many different kinds of animals and have different goals and missions. You can visit the shelter with your family or friends, so you know it is not only you who feels this way about animals. If you find many shelters that do what you like, think about which one has the most need at the moment.

Before visiting a shelter, make sure to call first so they are expecting you (if it should be). If possible, ask a friend or family member that lives nearby to make sure they can recommend a good shelter to volunteer at (if they do not live in your area).

One of the most asked questions is: how old is to volunteer at an animal shelter?

The age that you can volunteer at an animal shelter depends on the shelter and regulations in your area. In general, the age you can volunteer at a shelter is 14 years old. The reason being, that most shelters need people who have experience with animals to help them.

A good example of this is: you want to take care of cats or dogs for a few hours per week, you get overworked if you volunteer younger and have no experience with animals (waste of time). On the other hand, if you are an adult who has experience with animals, this may be a good way for you to gain valuable experience and make some money at the same time (if your city has laws regarding animal fighting or dog breeding).

Do you get paid to work at an animal shelter?

The answer is no. Remember, a shelter is there for the animals, and not for profit. It pays off to fundraise on top of volunteering, so the shelter has more money and can do more things.
If you want to receive money from a shelter, you have to be an employee, which may be part-time or full-time depending on your age and how much time you have available. The hours are usually long (up to 8 hours or more) and involve some blood or sweat while working there unless it is a small-scale shelter where work may be limited during certain times of the year.

What do you do when volunteering at an animal shelter?

The correct answer is “help them take care of the animals”. This means you get to clean and feed the animals, walk them, play with them, give them baths, give them medicine if they need it, etc. Remember: you do not have to work for hours at a shelter. Also, be careful not to overwork yourself.

What are the pros and cons of volunteering at a shelter?

The cons are that you may not be paid for more than a few hours of work per week (and that’s it), and you do not always get to interact with the animals as much as you would like. Some shelters do not allow volunteers to interact at all with the animals, so it is best to check this out beforehand.

The pros are that you help take care of animals and get to know them better, you often get a cool experience, and because your city or county is usually in desperate need of help, chances are you will also make some good connections with people within the community.

How often can one volunteer in an animal shelter?

There are several different organizations that run animal shelters. Some of these organizations may be able to accommodate you whenever you want to volunteer, but others may only be able to offer you shifts on a specific schedule. The staff at the local animal shelters are normally very friendly and can answer all your questions.