Become an animal shelter volunteer

You have always had a pet in the family or have always dreamed of having one. You would love to come home and find a pooch or moggie there to greet you. If you had an energetic dog you would definitely take off to the mountains every Sunday or perhaps you simply want to care for your cat and enjoy his company while lying on the sofa watching TV.

But of course you spend too many hours at the office, you’re in a different city every month and you can barely take care of yourself... let alone take care of a companion animal! The pet will need responsibility, routine and parents with clear ideas, so if you’ve thought about the possibility of adopting but can’t make up your mind, leave it for a while.

However, while knowing that this might not be the right moment, you may still want to spend time with animals, experiencing the emotional satisfaction that goes with having an animal or enjoying helping them. We can suggest a temporary solution that may suit you until you can adopt a pet for good: become a volunteer in an animal shelter!

Steps to becoming a volunteer in an animal shelter:

Step 1. Find the shelter

The Internet is the perfect tool. Animal shelters tend to publish all their information on the Web and it’s always useful to take a virtual look around before going there, so use Google and find the animal shelters operating closest to your area.

Step 2. Contact them

Each animal protection charity has its own policy for selecting volunteers. Call or write to them and they’ll tell you all you need to bear in mind before you go.

In some cases you’ll be able to send an application form downloaded from the Web and they will contact you. There are also shelters that organise get-togethers based on the applications submitted and assess the skills of potential volunteers.

Step 3. Training of volunteers

You need drive and enthusiasm to be a volunteer, but you also need to be trained. There is an endless number of tasks to perform at animal shelters. Some of them will provide a training course to give you more detailed knowledge of the work they carry out, their objectives, their organisation and what your role could be within the organisation. With a little commitment you’ll become the Volunteer of the year.

You’re a volunteer now!

If you think that being a volunteer just involves taking dogs for a walk and stroking a Persian cat for hours, you’re somewhat mistaken. The truth is that in these shelters the work is never done and you may be assigned to manning information stands or following up on adopted dogs to ensure their well-being, as well as carrying out administrative tasks and most of all maintaining the installations and taking care of the animals, among other duties. You may be involved in transporting and caring for sick dogs, or fostering puppies and dogs temporarily at home, etc.

Naturally, apart from working within the charity itself, you can also help by setting up a jumble sale to raise funds, organising a charity concert for the shelter or offering shelter in your own home. Go ahead, put your ingenuity and enthusiasm to work and be proactive. Many charities will definitely be interested if you have a plan to help them.

The reward

Walking out of the shelter on your very first day, you’ll already see the world in a different way.

You’ll learn a lot about animals. Definitely. But you’ll also learn lots of things about being a human being that maybe you didn’t know or didn’t want to know.

Furthermore, being a volunteer can be a way to find out what it really means to: "look after a pet", and above all it will help you make up your mind if you’re still undecided.

You’ll work to try to change an unfair reality; you’ll fight for a cause in which you believe and in so doing create more opportunities for these animals with whom you’ll share so many moments.

Volunteering is a job that’s paid for in adoptions; the more animals are adopted, the richer you’ll be.