Animal fans often have difficulty finding hands-on animal work, and most animal shelters are underfunded and cannot hire enough help. Volunteering at a shelter is, therefore, a win-win situation….as most who have volunteered at anything will attest, the helper benefits as much as the “helped”.
Typical Volunteer Duties
Hands-on animal work at shelters may involve walking, grooming or bathing dogs, cleaning cages and preparing food. Many volunteers find interacting with dogs, parrots, cats and other animals in need of human contact to be a very pleasurable aspect of their experience. In doing so, they make the residents’ stay more pleasant, and fulfill their desire for close contact with a variety of creatures.
People with other skills can often help out in office work, fund-raising or educational programs.
Donations and other Support
Shelters are almost always in need of funds, but cash donations are not within everyone’s means. However, donations of blankets, newspapers and pet food for the animals, or of used televisions, radios, refrigerators and other appliances for the staff, are always greatly appreciated. You can find your local shelter by logging on to the Pets911 Website.
If hands-on work is not within your means, there are a number of other ways that you can assist your local pet shelter. For example, you can adopt rather than buy a pet (please see the PetFinder Website for help), and can encourage others to do so as well.
The Long View – Supporting Favorable Laws
Supporting legislation that is favorable to shelters can make a real and lasting difference to millions of people and animals. The website of the Humane Society of the United States, the country’s leading animal welfare organization, is packed with valuable information on lobbying for animal-friendly legislation and addressing unfavorable conditions noted at animal shelters.
The Humane Society Website also maintains status reports on pending animal welfare laws and, most importantly, provides a simple tool for submitting petitions and contacting politicians. The laws tracked cover everything from circus elephant care and cat kennel size to cock-fighting.
If you are interested in following and commenting on laws affecting wildlife and the environment, please check out the legislative trackers hosted by the Sierra Club and the Center for Biological Diversity.
Adoption Events at ThatFishPlace/ThatPetPlace
We at ThatFishPlace/ThatPetPlace work hard to do our part for homeless animals by regularly hosting pet adoption events in conjunction with local animal welfare organizations.
Please check here to learn more about our long association with the Humane League of Lancaster County and our upcoming Greyhound Adoption Events (irresistible, adoptable greyhounds will be at our store on October 30 and November 27, 2010!).
Working at an animal shelter is a wonderful means of building skills and making contacts that will help you in a future career with animals, should that be your goal. My own volunteering efforts took me to the Bronx Zoo and then on to a lifelong career; please see Volunteering at Zoos, Aquariums and Nature Centers to learn more.
Further ReadingMany of the articles posted on ThatPetBlog address animal welfare and similar concerns. Following is a small sample: