How & Why to Volunteer at Your Local Shelter

If you are an animal lover, do not be deterred from helping out at your local shelter simply because you are not sure how to most effectively donate your time or resources. There are a myriad ways in which you can make a tangible difference in the lives of hundreds or thousands of animals. Whether it’s doing the hands-on work such as walking the shelter’s dogs or organizing a fundraising event, there is surely a volunteer job that suits your passions, skills, and schedule.


Animal shelters often come to mind when you are thinking about getting a new pet. However, don’t forget about them after your pet joins your family as these organizations need your help remaining open to provide great homes for millions of lost and abandoned pets. In addition to providing safe and comfortable homes to these animals, these shelters also carry the responsibilities of cleaning and evaluating every new pet that makes their way to the facilities.

Furthermore, the shelters need to look for microchips, potty train, and complete other tasks necessary to maintain the wellbeing of these animals. Doing all this is a lot to ask for any organization, especially one dependent on the donations of others.

Ask any animal shelter volunteer and they will tell you how their experience proved to be mutually beneficial. Not only are you helping these troubled animals find safe new homes, but you are exposed to other individuals who also share your passion for animals. Additionally, it’s a great way to stay active, boost your mental health, and gain meaningful experience to put on your college application.

Animal Shelter Volunteer


First things first, you need to learn about the animal shelters that are located in your area. Find and explore their websites to learn about the shelter’s philosophies, practices, and volunteer opportunities. You will also be able to gauge how much of a time commitment each opportunity requires.

Next, be sure to visit the shelter in person and ask an employee any questions you may have thought of after completing your initial research. If you find a shelter that is a great fit, go ahead and fill out an application. They are typically straightforward, but often do require a photo ID, birth certificate, and background check.

Upon acceptance to your organization, you will most likely be invited to a training session before your official start date. Sessions typically include hands-on instructions, a tour of the facilities, and getting to know your fellow volunteers and the shelter staff.

You are also going to need to determine the days, weeks, and hours that will work for your professional, personal, or academic schedule. Talk to the shelter and ensure that both you and the organization are on the same page regarding when you will show up and what work you will be completing. The next part is the easiest and most rewarding aspect of this process as you get to spend time with the animals and make a real difference in their lives.

Clear the Shelters

NBC New York has reported an important initiative called “Clear the Shelters” scheduled to take place next week on Saturday, August 15. The mission of the initiative is simple as they are hoping to spur adoptions for innocent animals from the crowded animal shelters in the tri-state area. Organizers ideally want to pair every animal with a perfect human match.

Clear the Shelters - John PartillaResearch has shown that less than a gift of all people adopting a new pet choose to do so via an animal shelter. This number is quite alarming. Furthermore, adoption from animal shelters is even more important during the summer months due to an increase in population after spring births. Many animal shelters in the New York City area have already committed to the initiative taking place next Saturday. To find a complete list and a shelter near you, visit this page hosted by NBC New York. However, this isn’t only a local event. Thousands of shelters and hopefully millions of people will be participating in the event.

Around 7 million of the 150 million dogs and cats in the United States, unfortunately, end up animal across the nation each year. Estimates from the Humane Society put this number as high as 8 million. Most alarmingly, their data shows that five million of these cats and dogs are euthanized every year. It used to be far higher, however, as upwards of a quarter of these animals were subject to euthanasia not too long ago. Animal Shelters have sprung across the nation to help drive this number down. These shelters hope to provide this animal a loving and long-term home. While these shelters may vary in size and geography, they almost universally are welcome and depend on volunteers. Don’t be afraid to donate your time or resources to helping this great cause.