Volunteering FAQ

If you don’t find the information you're looking for on this page, please call us 763-432-4833 or send us a message.

I'm under 16:

I am under 16, but am very mature for my age. Do you make exceptions to your minimum age rule?

For the safety of our volunteers and animals, we require that all volunteers be at least 16 years of age to volunteer in a regular role, without exception. Although you must be 16 years old to volunteer, we have many other ways for young people to support the animals and learn about animal welfare

We also have special programs for young people who love animals and wish to learn more about how to help the world become a more humane place. 

Young people 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.

Do you allow people under 16 to volunteer if they are accompanied by a parent who is also a volunteer?

Due to the nature of the work at Animal Humane Society, and often confined physical space, we are unable to accept partnership volunteering teams. 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.

Our foster program is a great way for young people and parents to have a rewarding volunteer experience together. Although the primary volunteer must be 18 years of age, the entire family can participate in the fostering experience. You can learn more about our foster program here.

I am 16 years old, do not have my own email address and am shy about making phone calls. Can I have my parents or someone else call or email on my behalf?

To serve successfully in their chosen role, students need to be comfortable independently completing all steps of the volunteer intake process:

  • Completing the application online, scheduling and attending a one-on-one interview
  • Scheduling and completing the required orientation and training sessions
  • Handling all individual phone and email correspondence independently
  • Following safety protocols and procedures
  • Managing their own individual volunteer schedule using our online scheduling program

We understand and appreciate that parents want to be a part of their child's volunteer experience. However, we need to be able to communicate directly with all of our individual volunteers. Students must be able to individually manage all correspondence as it relates to volunteering. We are unable to accept email or phone correspondence on a student’s behalf.

Partner, group, and mandated volunteering: 

I am not able to volunteer independently. Can I bring a helper with me when I volunteer?

Due to the nature of the work at Animal Humane Society, with 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 and be able to independently fulfill the responsibilities of their role.

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. Groups can support the animals in our care by making toys, collecting and donating items from our wish list or holding a fundraiser. 

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 your efforts. Tours are available at any of our four locations. 

Do you accept court-ordered community service hours?

We no longer accept court-ordered community service volunteers. We are not able to sign off on court-ordered service hours through our regular volunteer program.

Application process:

I don’t have a computer or email. Can’t I just fill out a paper application form?

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.

Why do you ask for a full year commitment?

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 regular schedule. This requirement helps us ensure quality training and consistent volunteer coverage. We do allow for vacations and needed days off.

If you find you will be unable to volunteer for three or more months within the year, you may wish to consider our foster volunteer program. Foster volunteers are only required to have an animal physically in their home for a total of 30 days in the year. Most foster placements are 3-4 weeks based on the care needed. You can learn more about our foster program here.

Why do you have a $25 administrative fee? Can it be waived?

Our $25 administrative fee helps offset the costs involved in our application process. We process over 2,500 applications a year, and this fee is needed to help cover the costs associated with processing each applicant, including conducting interviews, orientations and training sessions. We are unable to waive this fee for applicants.

I want to start volunteering right away. Why does it take so long to get started?

We receive over 2,500 applications to volunteer every year and are grateful to have such avid support from the community. Openings are limited and we're unable to accept every applicant. The process of reviewing applications, completing interviews, and finishing training does take some time. We make every effort to move applicants through as quickly as possible while ensuring that all volunteers get the training needed to work safely with shelter animals.

Volunteer commitment:

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.

For our advanced volunteer positions, we require 36 hours of experience working in an entry-level volunteer position as a prerequisite.

How often do I need to volunteer?

We require volunteers to fill a regularly scheduled shift at least once every other week. Volunteers are welcome to work more often if there is a need for shift coverage, either in a regularly scheduled shift, or by picking up open shifts online. Volunteer shifts typically range from 2-4 hours.

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 8 p.m. weekdays and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekends. Adoption Support shifts range from 2-3 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.

Volunteers are scheduled a minimum of one shift 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 on the same day of the week. Volunteers manage their own schedules online and we allow for regular vacations and pre-arranged shift adjustments. When removing themselves from the schedule, volunteers are welcome (but not required) to pick up a make-up shift.

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 volunteering experiences on-site.

Animal Humane Society offers a Student Volunteer Experience for high school students entering grades 10-12 and recent high school graduates who want to volunteer with Animal Humane Society over the course of one summer. Learn more.

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. Find out more about volunteering for the Walk for Animals.

What if I only want to work special Animal Humane Society events?

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. Learn more about this event and how to get involved.

For all other events, we recruit from within our current volunteer pool and for this reason do not offer an “events only” volunteer role.

Will I have training before I start volunteering?

Yes. Each role has training sessions that cover all aspects of the volunteer role. Training is done with both staff and volunteer mentors. The time it takes to complete training varies based on volunteer availability, training schedules, and the specific training needs of the volunteer role.

I just want to walk the dogs. Why does that require so much training?

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 teach volunteers about safety procedures and protocols that are currently 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 walkers are expected to aid in assisting customers during their shift. We want to make sure our volunteers have the information they need to assist customers and help with visitations.

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 animal handling.

I’m an avid runner. Can I take Animal Humane Society dogs out for a run during my volunteer shift?

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 do not allow running or jogging.

If I am fostering, do I get to choose the foster animals I bring home?

Communications about animals that are available for foster go out via email to all current foster volunteers from the Foster Coordinator. These animals are placed into homes on a first-come, first-served basis. Foster volunteers are never expected to take an animal that is not a good fit for their home or family. Foster animals are not yet available for adoption, so are not listed on our website.

For caring, compassionate advice and resources to address all your animal concerns.

Contact the Pet Helpline