What it's like to be a volunteer at Animal Humane Society

volunteer at animal humane society

Volunteers are at the heart of everything we do at Animal Humane Society. From cleaning dishes to bottle feeding kittens to engaging the next generation of animal lovers, so much of the work we do is made possible by the dedication and commitment of our volunteers.

In honor of National Volunteer Appreciation Week, we wanted to bring you a closer look at what it’s like to be a volunteer at AHS and hear a few first-hand experiences from our amazing volunteers.

What does a volunteer at AHS do?

At Animal Humane Society, we’re proud of the many programs that we offer to help not just animals but the people who care for them. Because of that, we have a wide range of volunteer opportunities across the organization.

In-shelter volunteers start off in foundational roles that, while they don’t have any direct animal contact, are crucial to the work we do at AHS. These are opportunities like cleaning laundry, washing dishes, and preparing enrichment treats for our furry friends in the shelter.

AHS volunteer with cat

From there, volunteers can move into mid-level and advanced roles that do include animal handling. These roles are vast, and they can include everything from walking shelter dogs to wrangling puppies during Puppy Playgroup.

In addition to in-shelter opportunities, our volunteers also foster the animals who don’t thrive in a shelter environment or who need special care and attention. Every year, more than 2,000 animals come to AHS that need foster care before they’re ready for adoption.

Our Community Outreach program also relies on volunteers to help get resources to the pets and people in our communities who need them most.

What does a day-in-the-life of an AHS volunteer look like?

Because of the fast-paced and ever-changing shelter environment, every day as a volunteer can look different.

“One day, I got called in to help with puppy bathing and it was such a joy,” Jesse Hitz Graff, a current volunteer at AHS, said. “The puppies were so squirmy and just getting to work with them straight off transport was really fun. I know they didn’t love the water, but having a puppy in your arms all wrapped up in a towel is so heartwarming.”

Depending on your role, your day may consist of sterilizing surgical instruments, helping to engage children in one of our many education programs, or spending time with an animal who needs love and compassion.

Ella Chester, one of our current volunteers, says the most memorable day of volunteering was “getting to send one of my favorite dogs, Foxtrot, home and seeing how excited the adopters were about having him. It was great to see a family of people who love him as much as I did and saw how good of a dog he is.”

No matter what your day looks like, you’ll spend every moment of your volunteer shifts making an impact on the lives of the animals in our shelter and the people who adopt them.

What makes being an AHS volunteer so special? 

There are many reasons why someone would want to be a volunteer at AHS, but it usually comes down to one thing: a love and passion for helping create a more humane world for pets and their people.

“I love being able to provide love and attention to animals who don't always get it and being bright spot in these animals' days,” Ella Chester says. But it’s not just the animals that makes volunteering at AHS so great. “I really love the people,” Ella continues. “Getting to spend time with other people who are just as passionate about animals is really great!”

Animal Humane Society exists thanks to volunteers who dedicate their time and talents to help animals in need. As Jesse Hitz Graff says, “The animals at AHS deserve so much love and attention and every new person who volunteers is more hours going to the care and rehabilitation of animals that need it most.”

We couldn’t do the incredible work we’re able to do without the help of these passionate, caring individuals. We’re grateful for them, not just this week, but every week.

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How can you become a volunteer at Animal Humane Society? 

To be a volunteer, you must meet a few requirements:

  • Volunteers must be at least 16 years of age.
  • Volunteers must read and comprehend detailed policy and protocol information and follow shelter rules.
  • Human interaction is a requirement of all volunteer roles. Volunteers must always communicate professionally.
  • Volunteers must understand and fulfill all responsibilities of their role independently.
  • New in-shelter volunteers are required to begin in an entry-level role and are not allowed to take on tasks that require direct animal handling. Foundational volunteers offer their time and talents to AHS without having to commit to long-term volunteering or a specific shift.
  • Most volunteer roles require volunteers to stand, and/or walk for up to three hours; lift and carry up to 20 pounds; reach and lift; possess vision abilities including close vision, distance vision and depth perception; and speak to customers, employees, and other volunteers.

Interested in joining our amazing team of AHS volunteers?

Animal lovers who are interested in becoming a volunteer at AHS must complete a four-step process. Learn more about available opportunities (including foster volunteering), the application process, and what to expect once you’ve submitted your application.