Volunteering with Animals

volunteering with animals

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Many animal-lovers are eager to volunteer with animals but are not sure where to start.  We’ve highlighted a few ways you can help serve your community and be around your furry favorites at the same time. 

Foster Care

There are plenty of foster pets who need a loving household and family for various reasons.  When you foster a pet you also help free up space at the shelter for other animals to be taken care of. The SPCA is always looking for foster volunteers and will provide everything you need to take care of your animal including a kennel, food, and all shots and medications.  If you become an Adoption Ambassador you will actually be part of the pet’s adoption process by providing photos and info to put online and finding their perfect forever family match. The benefit is that you will know a lot more about the animal than a shelter would be able to through quality time and one-on-one in-home interaction.  There are also trust-building and socialization placements that are meant to help animals with a cruel past, be put in an environment where they can learn to trust humans again.  

Animal Shelters

Animal shelters are constantly in need of animal-loving volunteers to assist with a variety of duties, including cage cleanings, grooming, walking and socializing dogs, socializing cats, laundry, and office support, among others. These shelters typically require a 1 year commitment, due to the training you go through in order to serve at the shelters.  Typical bimonthly shifts are about 2 to 4 hours each time.  

If your animal-loving elementary aged child wants to help, a great way to serve would be to have them host a fundraiser for the local animal shelter since most are run completely off donations.  You could also have a donation drive since shelters normally have supply lists that they can share so you can help meet some of their more tangible needs.  

Therapy Pets

Many nursing homes, hospitals, community centers, and libraries are excited to welcome therapy animals into their facilities. These well-natured pets help increase the quality of life of the residents.  There are some requirements that have to be met before you can show up with your pet to volunteer. If you have a dog that is over a year old and has a great temperament, this might be a great way to volunteer with your animal in your community.  There are organizations that qualify and certify therapy dogs and their volunteer handlers for the purpose of visiting institutions where therapy dogs are needed. If you want ideas on how to volunteer with your pet or how to set up your own pet therapy operation, Pet Partners is a great resource.  


Be sure to log in to your Hub to see if there are any local volunteer opportunities with animals. If you work at one of these nonprofit organizations, we encourage you to post volunteer opportunities to involve your community.

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