1. Will I have training before I start volunteering?
Yes. Each role has training classes that cover all aspects of the volunteer role. The time it takes to complete training varies, based on volunteer availability, training schedules and the specific training needs of the volunteer role.
2. What does bi-weekly mean? How often do I need to volunteer?
Bi-weekly means every other week. For example: Every other Monday from 3pm to 6pm. We ask that volunteers work a minimum of two or three shifts a month based on when their set scheduled shift falls on the monthly calendar. Volunteers are welcome to work more hours if there is a need for shift coverage. Volunteer shifts typically range from 2 to 4 hours.
3. Why do you ask for a full year commitment? That seems like a long time.
In order to provide the animals in our facilities the best care and support, we do require volunteers to commit to a full year of volunteering on a continual basis.
This requirement is needed to ensure quality training and to maintain a consistent level of volunteer coverage. We do allow for vacations and needed days off. If you find you will be unable to volunteer for 3 or more months within the year, our foster program may be a better fit for you than on-site volunteering.
Our foster volunteer position does allow for longer breaks if needed. This position also requires a one-year commitment, but volunteers are only required to have an animal physically in their home for a total of 24 days in the year. This can be broken up anyway you would like, based on the animals you choose to foster. Most foster placements are 3-4 weeks based on the care needed. If you would like to know more about the foster program, please click here.
4. Do you have short-term or summer volunteer positions available?
Due to limited resources and the required training for each volunteer position, we are not able to offer short-term or summer volunteering experiences working on site.
We do have one event that is a short term volunteer experience. Our Walk for Animals fundraiser is held each spring. This is a one day event open to the public and we welcome new volunteers. To find out more about the Walk for Animals, please click here.
5. If I am fostering, do I get to choose the foster animals I bring home?
You can choose which animals to foster from the available foster listing. Foster animals are placed into homes on a first-come, first-serve basis. You are never expected to take a foster animal that is not a good fit for your home or family. Foster animals are not yet available for adoption, so are not listed on our website.
6. With so many applicants, are you really in need of more volunteers?
Yes! Yes! Yes! We are continually adding dedicated and compassionate volunteers to our program at all five of our locations. Our current program has over 1,600 active volunteers, and we rely on our volunteers to help with our mission to engage the hearts hands and minds of the community to help the animals.
We are thrilled to have such wonderful community support, and welcome new volunteers! While some positions may have limited availability due to high volunteer demand, we have many positions in need of volunteers. As you consider positions, please also consider positions working with the less popular animals like the small mammals. They need you too!
7. Do I need to have experience to volunteer?
No prior experience is needed to volunteer in our entry level positions, but we do require all volunteers to have good communication skills and a willingness to learn. We supply all the training needed for each entry level position.
We require our Animal Ambassador volunteers to be part of a Delta Certified Therapy Team with their animal. We do not train animals in our shelters for this volunteer role and volunteers use their own trained therapy animals when volunteering.
For our advanced volunteer positions, we require experience working with the animals on the adoption floor at Animal Humane Society as a prerequisite.
8. When are the volunteer shifts?
Each site has slightly different volunteer scheduling and shifts. We schedule Adoption Support shifts when our Adoption Centers are open. Our Adoption Centers are open from noon to 8pm weekdays and 10am to 6pm on weekends. Adoption Support shifts range from 2 to 3 hours long.
Other positions have varied shift times depending on need. Typically shifts are 2-4 hours depending on role and some advanced positions are scheduled before the Adoption Centers open during the morning hours. We do not offer volunteer shifts in the evening after our Adoption Centers have closed.
9. I would like to volunteer walking dogs. Why does that require so much training?
Surprisingly, walking the dogs actually involves more than just walking the dogs. We want to make sure the animals consistently receive a high quality level of care and stay as healthy as possible. To do this, we need to educate our volunteers about safety procedures and protocols in place to limit the transfer of disease within our shelters. We also want to educate our volunteers on how to correctly interact with our shelter animals in order to reduce stress on the animals.
In addition, some of our dog adoption support volunteers are also our dog walkers. So volunteers that walk the dogs are also helping customers during their shifts. We want to make sure our volunteers have the information they need to assist customers and help with visitations.
We ask that all volunteers attend the specific training required for their volunteer role. Volunteer training includes the duties required for the role, safety procedures and protocols required and any animal handling training needed.
10. I am an avid runner and would like to take the dogs running for extra exercise. Can I do that?
As with people, dogs need to slowly build up muscle strength and endurance in order to avoid potential injury when running or jogging. The dogs on our Adoption Floor have not had the training needed to prevent injury or to build the endurance to sustain them on runs. To avoid injury, we ask that the dogs be walked, and do not allow running or jogging.
11. Volunteers are scheduled to volunteer every other week. What happens if I want to go on vacation?
We understand that life can be busy and have made our scheduling process as flexible as we are able. To make scheduling easy to manage, volunteers have a set schedule working the same shift time every other week, on the same day of the week. Volunteers manage their own schedules online and we allow for regular vacations and pre-arranged shift adjustments. Volunteers are expected to make up any missed scheduled shifts within the current month.
12. What if I only want to work events – can I do that?
We welcome new volunteers at our Walk for Animals event held each spring. Volunteering at this event is separate from our regular volunteer program and does not require an application fee. To learn more about this event and how to become involved please click here.
For all other events, we recruit from within our current volunteer pool and for this reason do not offer an “Events Only” volunteer role.
13. What do I need to do to become a volunteer and how long does it take?
We have instituted an online application process to manage the high number of applications we receive each year. Applicants are required to complete all steps of the application process independently and we are unable to make exceptions to this process. It can take 1-3 months to become an active Animal Humane Society volunteer.
All applicants must follow the steps below:
If accepted into the program, the new volunteer will then register for orientation and training classes. The time it takes to complete training varies by the role, a volunteer’s availability and training dates.
14. I know I need to return two confidential reference forms. What exactly does “confidential reference” mean and who can I have fill them out?
All references are kept confidential, and are not shared with applicants. Return information is provided on each reference form, and the person completing the reference form should return it directly to the Animal Humane Society Volunteer Department.
References should be completed by an adult, non-family member. Good examples are current or previous co-workers from a work or volunteer setting, teachers and coaches.
15. Do you accept court-ordered community service hours?
Yes, in certain circumstances we do accept court-ordered community service volunteer hours. These hours are not part of our regular volunteer program. Please click here to find out more information on this opportunity.
16. I am 16 years old, do not have my own email address or am shy about making phone calls. Can I have my parents or someone else call or email on my behalf?
All students considering volunteering should take into account that all volunteer roles are adult level roles and to be successful students must be comfortable independently fulfilling all the duties required. This encompasses every aspect of the volunteer role from:
We can understand and appreciate that parents want to be a part of the volunteer process their child is involved in. We do, however, have a policy that we need to be able to communicate directly with all of our individual volunteers. All students must be able to provide an individual email address so that we may contact them directly. Due to this policy, we are also unable to accept email or phone correspondence on a student’s behalf and require that students individually manage all correspondence as it relates to volunteering.
17. I am under 16, but I really want to help. What else can I do to help the animals?
For the safety of our volunteers and animals, we do require that all volunteers be at least 16 years of age to volunteer. Although youth must be 16 years old to volunteer, we have many other ways for youth to support the animals and learn about animal welfare. Please click here to get ideas on how to make toys for the animals, hold your own fundraiser, or recycle things from home to support the animals.
We also have special youth programs available at our sites for all ages of students. These programs are geared towards youth with a love of animals and a yearning to learn more about how to help the world become a more humane place for them. This is a wonderful way to become involved and learn more about animal welfare. To learn more about these programs, please click here.
Youth can also consider having a parent apply to be a foster volunteer. Although the primary volunteer must be 18 years of age, the entire family can participate in the fostering experience. To learn more about our foster program, please click here.
18. I am under 16, but I have a parent that is willing to volunteer with me. Would this work?
For safety reasons, all volunteers must meet our general requirements and be able to work independently. Individual volunteers must also individually complete the application process.
Due to the nature of the work at Animal Humane Society, and often confined physical space, we are unable to accept partnership volunteering teams. Because of the number of volunteer applicants we have each year and limited resources; we are also unable to create roles specifically for individuals to address a particular special need.
Youth can consider having a parent apply to be a foster volunteer. Although the primary volunteer must be 18 years of age, the entire family can participate in the fostering experience. To learn more about our foster program, please click here.
19. I have a group that is interested in volunteering at one of your locations. What do you have available for group volunteering?
Unfortunately, we are unable to accommodate groups of volunteers in our sites. We welcome groups to tour any of our five locations and have many ways that groups can be supportive of the animals. Groups can make toys for the animals, collect and donate household items or hold a fundraiser. Click here to see the many ways a group can support the animals.
After your group has held a fundraiser or donated items for the animals, a tour is a wonderful way to top off the experience. This is a great way for the group to see exactly how the animals are being supported by such efforts. They will get to see the animals using the toys and donated items, and see the animals fundraising has helped. If you would like to find out more about our tours and how to set one up, please click here.
20. I am not able to volunteer independently. Can I bring a helper with me when I volunteer?
Animal Humane Society often gets requests from persons wishing to volunteer as a team. Sometimes this is a parent-child partnership, an aide-client partnership, teacher-student partnership and others. Due to the nature of the work at Animal Humane Society, limited resources and often confined physical space, we are unable to accept volunteering teams of any number.
Each volunteer at Animal Humane Society must go through the volunteer application process individually. Each volunteer at Animal Humane Society must be able to independently fulfill the responsibilities of their role.
21. Can I be part of the volunteer program if I have a criminal record?
The Animal Humane Society does not accept volunteers with a criminal record in relation to (1) sexual offense, (2) violent crimes or (3) animal neglect or cruelty within the last 15 years. The Animal Humane Society requires all persons applying to volunteer to state any past criminal record and reserves the right to conduct a background check on any volunteer.
22. Why do you have an application fee? Can it be waived?
Our application fee helps offset the costs involved in our application process. We process over 1,500 applications a year, and this fee is needed to help cover the costs associated with processing each application. As a nonprofit with limited resources, we are unable to waive this fee for applicants.
23. I do not have a computer or email. Can you send me a paper copy of the application to submit?
Due to the high volume of volunteer applicants we receive each year and the costs associated with paper applications, we are no longer able to process paper applications. The most cost effective way for us to communicate with volunteer applicants and our current volunteers is with online services and email. For this reason, we have moved our application process online along with all of our volunteer scheduling.
Using email and online scheduling saves money on postage and printing costs, and helps to keep our program viable and efficient. For this reason, we require that all volunteers have online access and a current email address.
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