Anyone who chooses to volunteer at a local animal shelter or a pet store will spend time caring for animals, greeting and assisting visitors, and taking care of administrative tasks. While duties of these types of volunteers will vary, most people will need a little hands-on experience with domestic animals before embarking on this fulfilling volunteer position.
Typically, those who seek out volunteer positions at animal shelters are motivated by their love of animals and their desire to help abandoned or lost pets feel more secure, happy and healthy. Some animal shelters are “kill shelters”, while others are classified as “no-kill” shelters. Shelters that are kill shelters will put animals to sleep in certain circumstances, or after a defined period of time. No-kill shelters will not do this.
Those who feel strongly about animal rights will usually look for volunteer positions at no-kill shelters. However, where one decides to volunteer is really a personal choice.
These Positions are Unpaid
Like most volunteer positions, a job as an animal shelter volunteer will be unpaid. However, those who perform these positions will gain satisfaction by helping animals, and they may learn valuable skills which may be used to secure paying work later on.
Since volunteer positions also impress colleges and other institutions of higher learning, it is in fact possible to gain significant advantage from a volunteer position. These types of positions add cachet to resumes and college applications, by showing that applicants care about others and give back to the community. In addition, friendships with like-minded people may be formed. Networking with others in the animal care field may also provide advantages down the line.
Positions May Require Security Checks
While new volunteers are always needed, animal shelters must be careful about who they allow to care for animals and/or handle sensitive information, such as personal details of those who wish to adopt pets. Therefore, prospective volunteers may be subject to tests, such as criminal record checks, before they are cleared to work at specific shelters. Checks of this type may vary from shelter to shelter.
Risks of Working at Animal Shelters
Animals are unpredictable. Therefore, there is always the risk of bites or scratches from residents of these shelters. Animals may also carry diseases. Those who are planning to volunteer at shelters should know the risks before they sign on as volunteers. This way, they will be able to make smart decisions about this volunteer opportunity.