Volunteering with Animals

Volunteering with animals is an amazing way to help the community, improve your own mood and sense of purpose, and get plenty of affection along the way. Read on for ways you can help animals.

Animal Shelter Volunteer

Volunteering in an animal shelter is a great way to meet people and animals, though there might be an element of sadness if a beloved animal is adopted or passes away. If you’re prone to attachment issues though, don’t fret! There are plenty of ways to help animals without spending one-on-one time with them.

Most animal shelters will take teenage volunteers for some tasks, so this could be a good family activity. However, the minimum age in many states is 16 to 18 — though 14 is not unheard of depending on the task.

Common animal shelter volunteer opportunities include:

  • Administrative and office work.
  • Transporting pets to and from appointments and adoption fairs.
  • Socializing cats.
  • Walking or playing with dogs.
  • Bathing and grooming cats and dogs.
  • Photographing adoptable pets.
  • Cleaning the shelter itself or cages.

Fostering Pets

Animal rescue organizations and sometimes shelters need caring families to temporarily care for adoptable cats and dogs. This is perfect for people who love pets, but don’t want the permanent commitment of one for whatever reason.

The screening process for fostering pets is extensive, as the organization responsible for their welfare wants to ensure each pet is loved and not subject to more abuse or trauma.

Being a foster parent to a pet allows you to collect information about their temperament, health, and activities. Potential adopters will then be able to make a better-informed decision about whether their home is the right one. For example, some dogs need to be an only pet.

You will be responsible for general feeding and care as well as transportation to appointments and adoption events. Some organizations provide complimentary food and virtually all cover veterinary care.

Some people end up getting so attached to their foster pet that they adopt it and become a “failed foster” — but this isn’t something to count on.