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10 Things Every Shelter Volunteer Should Know

  • September 3, 2012
  • 4:06 pm
  • 1 of 4
10 Things Every Shelter Volunteer Should Know

By Darlene Duggan, TAILS blogger

What is the best way to get involved in the community and show your support of animal shelters? Volunteering, of course! So, you have gone through the application process and attended the orientation, and now you are ready to start helping out. Not so quick, though! There are some things that every shelter volunteer should know first.

1. Stick to the dress code communicated to you by the shelter administration.

These dress codes were designed to keep both you and the animals safe. Even if it is 99 degrees outside and you are exercising large dogs that require all your muscle and energy to control, keep your closed-toed shoes and long pants on! You donít want to compromise the animal or yourself with an errant nail or claw to your shin.

2. If you don’t know, ask.

If a visitor asks a question about the shelter or an animal that you donít know the answer to, ask a staff person for clarification. There is nothing worse than giving out misinformation to visitors. Likewise, if you donít know how to do something or where to find something, ask a staff person or fellow volunteer first. It’s always better (for you and the animals!) to have the correct information before doing anything.

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Read more: Behavior & Communication, Do Good, Everyday Pet Care, Make a Difference, Pets, , , , ,

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TAILS is an interactive website, online community, and print magazine that celebrates the relationship between pets and their people. TAILS features expert knowledge, advice, pet product reviews, local resource guides, community event listings, and fun contests to promote and encourage people to live responsibly with their pets.


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5:35AM PST on Jan 14, 2014

Thanks, plenty of good advice!

7:11AM PST on Jan 10, 2013

Thank you - very true & appreciated tips.

11:06AM PST on Jan 3, 2013

Thanks, these suggestions apply to a LOT of volunteer jobs!

9:57AM PST on Jan 3, 2013

I've been volunteering at an open-admission animal shelter for over 7 years, and nearly all of the 10 items listed are true--and great advice! The only one I disagree with is "10. You will be sad every time you leave the shelter." Thank goodness; that's just not true! Sometimes you'll actually get to witness miracles, like your favorite long-term resident dog or cat FINALLY getting adopted--or a sick animal actually getting better instead of worse. Yes, there are days I'm sad when I leave the shelter--my heart has been broken many times. But most of the time, I'm grateful I have time to spend with the animals and make their lives in the shelter a little easier. And every time I help an animal or potential adopter, I realize that every little thing we do really can make a difference--for the shelter animals and for the people who adopt them. An hour-long walk/run with a dog may help them calm down & get adopted that day, and a 1/2 hour play session with a bored cat may help them get adopted. You literally never know!

12:38AM PST on Nov 15, 2012

Wonderful advise, thanks muchly!

9:37PM PST on Nov 4, 2012

thanks for the article

10:58AM PDT on Oct 18, 2012

Thanks for the info.

3:16PM PDT on Oct 14, 2012

poor animals. i really should volunteer. any kid safe volunteer programs? my son is almost 3 and he loves animals... and I would not volunteer if it meant time away from him, since work takes enough of that time already

8:50PM PDT on Sep 22, 2012

Great information, thanks for the article. I'm impressed with all the volunteers we have, thank you all!

11:40AM PDT on Sep 10, 2012

i volunteer at a no-kill cat shelter here in chicago, and i absolutely LOVE IT!! i volunteer one day a week, and i so look forward to going on my "cat pettin' day". it is very rewarding to go and spend time with homeless kitties who need a special little touch. the absolute BEST is when one goes to their forever home, especially one that has spent a long time at the shelter, years sometimes. it is bittersweet to see them leave because i won't (hopefully) see them again, but to know that they are going to a home with someone who loves them unconditionally, is awesome. i will be a volunteer at animal shelters for as long as i possibly can. the kitties need us!

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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