How To: Volunteer at a Local Animal Shelter

dog in cage
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Animals need help everywhere. Get involved with a local shelter to improve conditions for animals. Plus, you'll be surrounded by dogs, and who doesn't like that?

  1. Find a shelter near you. Start by searching Petfinder (or Pets911), enter you zip code to find where there are homeless pets near you. You will be able to see where local shelters are by seeing where there are pets that are up for adoption. Get the phone number of the shelter and find out who works there.
  2. Contact ‘em. Call the shelter or drop by, and ask to speak to the volunteer coordinator. Introduce yourself – give your name, age, and say that you live in the area (but don’t give your full address). Ask if they could use a volunteer or if there are other ways to help the shelter. Find out how the shelter works by asking more questions – it will help you figure out better ways to help.
  3. What if they say you’re too young. Okay, so you called your local shelter and they didn’t have something for you to do. This is not true! Shelters can always use help, you just have to give them the idea... Here is a list of just some other things you can do for the shelter if they don’t want you handling animals:
    • Clean cages, the backyard, or even the shelter's office
    • Make phone calls or do other general office work
    • Make holiday decorations for the shelter office and waiting room
    • Good with web sites? Create a Facebook or other site page for the shelter and help advertise it
    • Take pictures of new pets and learn how to put them up for adoption on Petfinder, Pets911, or even advertise them around your neighborhood or school
    • Become a foster home for animals the shelter doesn’t have room for (Warning: this one definitely requires talking to the parents :O)

    What if you can't get to the shelter?

    The next step is coming up with ways to fundraise materials the shelter needs (ask them first) or money for operating the shelter. Check out Do Something’s ideas for fundraising.

    Also, check out Do Something’s list of ways to help your local shelter.