For the Love of Pets: Volunteering Your Time

Have you ever wanted to volunteer your time to help animals? April is National Volunteer Month and the perfect opportunity to make that dream come true.

There are many different ways you can help both domestic and wild animals, whether by handling them directly or by providing other services. Here are some ideas you may be able to lend a hand to:

  • animal shelters
  • agricultural reserve
  • wildlife Sanctuary
  • animal Hospital
  • fish and wildlife department
  • animal welfare organization

Finding the right volunteer opportunity can depend on your interests, availability, and skills.

Organizations usually have a minimum age requirement to volunteer, and your time to donate can be a monthly or even hourly minimum. Below is a list of some of the tasks that you may be asked to perform for each type of organization.

animal shelters

  • cleaning cages and kennels
  • feeding the animals
  • walk and play with dogs
  • training dogs
  • animal socialization
  • bath and grooming
  • raising animals
  • sorting and organizing supplies
  • Perform administrative tasks such as mailing, filing and returning calls
  • washing dishes and laundry
  • working at fundraising and adoption events
  • taking pictures of animals for adoption
  • help with property maintenance
  • working on special projects, such as comforting animals during fireworks

Farm Sanctuary

  • food preparation and feeding
  • Cleaning of stalls, eating utensils and water tanks
  • doing laundry
  • Helping with facility maintenance and special projects
  • do administrative work
  • working on special events

wildlife Sanctuary

  • food preparation and feeding
  • cleaning dishes
  • doing laundry
  • Helping with facility maintenance and special projects
  • do administrative work
  • taking animals to the sanctuary
  • Demonstrating community outreach and education
  • Helping with facility maintenance and special projects

animal Hospital

  • greeting customers
  • running errands
  • customer service work
  • performing administrative tasks such as filing
  • Enclosure Cleaning
  • working on special events

fish and wildlife department

  • working in a visitor center or nature shop
  • guiding tour
  • help with land maintenance
  • gardening
  • do administrative work
  • help restore housing

animal welfare

There are several national organizations that offer volunteer opportunities such as The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), and RedRover. Tasks may include:

  • setting up temporary shelter
  • feeding the animals
  • cleaning cages
  • walking, grooming and socializing animals
  • supply donation event
  • assisting with veterinary examination and care
  • Reuniting animals with owners
  • assist with transportation
  • Build pet-friendly spaces like flooring, painting, kennel and fencing, building agility equipment and cat bridges, and more.

The RedRover Responders program has volunteer opportunities to help animals in distress nationwide, with frequency based on need. Through this program we specialize in setting up and operating temporary shelters when large numbers of animals are displaced by natural disasters or rescued from situations of mass cruelty and neglect when our services are requested. carried out by a leading agency. We also create pet-friendly spaces for domestic violence shelters and animal shelters through this program.

redrover responder Online training is free and self-paced with the added requirement of a FEMA IS-100C online course. To be eligible for deployment, RadRover Responders volunteers must have the ability to lift at least 40 pounds, and be able to stand, kneel, or bend for long periods of time in varying temperatures and conditions.

While the work can be daunting, volunteers report that deploying with RadRover has offered some of the most rewarding volunteer experiences they’ve ever had. Prior experience in animal management at a local animal shelter or rescue group is recommended, but not required.

Other trainings to consider if you are interested in the volunteer experience include:

  • Human First Aid and CPR
  • pet first aid and cpr
  • Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) – Know disaster preparedness for threats in your area
  • Animal Response Teams (Community or County Animal Response Team (CART), State Animal Response Team (SART), Disaster Animal Response Team (DART)) – learn disaster preparedness for emergencies affecting pets and livestock in your area

As you can see, there are lots of volunteer opportunities available to help animals. We hope that you will find the perfect fit for you.

To learn more about becoming a RadRover Responders volunteer, visit,

Nicole Forsyth is the President and CEO red Rover, a non-profit organization focused on getting animals out of distress and strengthening the human-animal bond through emergency shelters, disaster relief services, financial aid, and education. She writes for the Love of Pets for the Bay Area newsgroup. Send questions to

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