10 Reasons to Volunteer at an Animal Shelter

November 3rd marks the start of National Animal Shelter Appreciation Week—and what better way to support your local shelters and rescue groups than volunteering your time? If you need a reason to lending a helping hand, we’ve got 10 of them right here:

There are millions of animals who need your love.

Animal shelters and rescue groups take in about 7.6 million animals every year, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

It may help them get adopted.

Petting, grooming and playing with shelter animals can make them healthier and happier—and more adoptable. A study by animal research consultant Dr. Nadine Gourkow and Clive J.C Phillips, a professor of animal welfare at the University of Queensland, found that cats who had four 10-minute sessions of playing, petting and grooming time developed upper respiratory disorders at lower rates and were more content than cats who didn’t interact with people.



You get to be a part of making THIS face happen.

Caring for the animals and helping things run smoothly at your local shelter helps get the animals into their forever homes. Posted by reddit user TravisHelwig, we think above photo of the smile on pup Tyson’s face says it all.

It’s good for your health.

Interaction with animals has been shown to have a ton of health benefits, including reduced stress and anxiety as well as improved immune system functioning and pain management.


It’ll improve your mood.

Want a smile as big as the one above? Research has found that while donating money makes people feel happier for a week, donating time extends it to 24 days.

It’s a great way to make new furry friends if you can’t adopt.

Adopting a pet is a huge commitment in terms of time, money and your housing situation—a place of residence not allowing pets is the #1 reason people give away their dogs, followed by not having enough time. So if you’re not ready to make that commitment yet (or ever), you can still spend plenty of time around animals by volunteering according to your own schedule.

Shelter cats make good yoga buddies.

Just ask the Homeward Bound Pet Shelter in Illinois, who partnered with a local yoga studio to host a yoga class featuring adoptable kitties.

You’ll be in good company.

Ian Somerhalder, George Clooney, Sophia Bush, Kristen Bell and Ellen DeGeneres are just some of the celebrities who have donated their time to animal shelters, helped them raise money and adopted their own pets from shelters.

You’ll find plenty of places to volunteer.

There are about 3,500 animal shelters and 10,000 rescue groups and animal sanctuaries in the United States, according to The Humane Society. Start your search at The Shelter Pet Project.




Enough said.



Christine J.
Christine Jabout a year ago

Good stuff. I'm always amazed when people say "I'm bored", or people have empty nest syndrome and are constantly bugging their busy adult children, or people don't know what to do with themselves after retirement. There are so many worthy causes, animal and non-animal. If you have time or energy or love or any combination of the above, there are plenty of animals and people who need you.

William C.
William Cabout a year ago


Denise D.
Denise Dabout a year ago

I would love to volunteer at my local Animal Control, but I would end up with more pets than I'm allowed in the city (it has already happened) or cry for days and days because I couldn't adopt legally. I'm pretty sure it is a no kill shelter now, and my county (possibly the whole state?) discontinued BSL last year. For now, I will have to be content with holding pet supply drives for my Locals' Woman's Committee at work. Thanks for posting this article, Diana.

Jeanne Rogers
Jeanne Rabout a year ago

Thank you for sharing.

Jeanne Rogers
Jeanne Rabout a year ago

I will always contribute money, food, blankets, etc., but I have a history of never being able to resist a stray. Being aware of my history, my husband even encourages me to make donations in order to keep me out personally. Sorry!

DANIEL BURNIPabout a year ago

I agree with Elaine for me to help at an animal shelter it will have to have a no kill policy, not those who kill animals just to reach target quota numbers even when homes can be given to many animals, very shame full.

Melania Padilla
Melania Padilla1 years ago


Janet Hotubbee
Janet Hotubbee1 years ago

When I retired I had a lot time on my hands. I was hesitant to volunteer at an animal shelter because I thought I would bring too many animals home. So, I decided to volunteer with one of our local rescue groups. The group is so loving to the animals and successful in adopting pets out, that I did not feel compelled to adopt them myself. It has been a great experience and I recommend it for every animal lover if they have the time to volunteer.

Siyus Copetallus
Siyus Copetallus1 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

Virginia Belder
Virginia Belder1 years ago