How To Start Volunteering For Dog Rescue Groups

Reviewed By Kim •  Updated: 11/22/20 •  10 min read
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Have you ever thought about doing volunteer work for your local dog rescue? Do you enjoy spending time with dogs? Have you ever thought about starting an animal shelter? Or maybe you wonder what type of work you could possibly do to help a shelter.

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If you’ve answered yes to any of these questions, then we’ve got some answers for you! Dog and animal shelters are constantly in need of volunteers to help with all aspects of running the dog shelter. You’d be surprised—shelters need people to help not only care for the dogs and other animals, but they have need of volunteers with specific skill sets, such as graphic artists and more.

Why Get Involved with a Dog Shelter?

There are many reasons people choose to become volunteers. Maybe they’ve just lost their precious fur baby and aren’t ready to adopt another pet, so they choose to help out dogs in need at the shelter. Or maybe someone loves animals, but lives in an apartment building or rents a house that doesn’t allow pets. In that case, working at a shelter can help them connect with pets. There are many reasons people choose to work at a dog shelter. But did you know there are many benefits that come with working at an animal shelter?

1. Helping animals in need: when you volunteer to help at an animal shelter, you’re helping pets in need. You may work with the dogs and other animals, or perhaps perform other duties at the shelter. By doing so, you bring a solution and assistance to a long-term problem—pets and shelters that need help.

2. Bring hope to shelter pets: working with animals in shelters helps them to feel more comfortable, gives them attention, and helps to bring out their personality, which helps make them more adoptable. Not only that but working with these pets gives them hope—they learn that you love and care for them. Again, this opens up their true personalities, giving them hope—all of which increases the pets’ chances of being adopted.

3. Provide exercise to relieve stress: dogs love to walk. It’s great for their health, but also relieves stress. Have you ever heard of kennel stress? Many dogs who are put into a kennel can develop kennel stress. They’re in a new place with new people and other dogs, etc. It can be very scary. Some dogs don’t adapt well and develop kennel stress. Maybe you’ve seen a dog hiding at the back of his kennel, perhaps shivering and hunching down to avoid being seen. Or maybe you’ve seen dogs that are aggressively barking and lunging at the kennel door, etc. These are signs of kennel stress. When these dogs are exercised regularly, it helps to reduce their stress. Over time, they’ll become happier and more adjusted to their new circumstances. By becoming a dog walker, you’ll not only help these dogs get some needed exercise and socialization, but you’ll help to relieve their stress, too.

4. Relieve your own stress, too: volunteer work such as working with pets has been scientifically proven to help improve our overall health, too. Not only can working with dogs lower your stress levels, but it can get you more active (for instance, by walking dogs), improve symptoms of depression and more. Your overall health can improve by giving time to animals in need. You help them, and they help you.

5. Meet other people: when you volunteer at a shelter, you’ll also have more opportunities for socializing with other people who love dogs and pets. Chances are you’ll work with these people on a regular basis, giving you the opportunity to make friends, too.

6. Improve your resume: volunteering professional services is also a great way to improve your resume. You’ll gain experience in your field, while also helping an animal shelter. You can definitely add these experiences to your college application or resume, giving you the benefit of experience and showing your love of doing the right thing to help others. Shelters need all types of assistance—from graphic artists & copywriters to develop websites and other content, to accountants to help with the books, veterinarians and more. You’re sure to find a shelter that can use your talents and skills.

7. Find a new fur-ever friend: maybe you’ll find your next fur baby through volunteer work at a pet shelter. This often happens. Not only will you be giving your time, but you’ll also gain a new dog companion while giving them a new, loving fur-ever home.

These are only a few of the benefits you’ll gain by working at a dog shelter. The main thing is you’ll be helping others in need of love and care, making them more adoptable, so they can find new homes and people to love.

Volunteer Animal Shelter Near Me

How do you go about finding a dog shelter that needs volunteers? And what do you look for in a pet rescue center—how do you choose the right one? The first thing is to search for dog rescues in your area. You can easily do this by doing a quick Google search, just by typing the term “dog rescue near me” into the search box, then hitting enter. Google will bring up a list of dog rescues or dog shelters in your area. You may even see a list that includes a handy Google map, making it very fast and easy to find a shelter near you.

Once you’ve located the shelters in your area, see if they have a website and visit the site for information on volunteering. If they don’t have a website, simply call them and ask if they have need of volunteers.

Questions you might consider asking about their volunteer program:

When looking for volunteer opportunities, look for a dog rescue group or adoption organization that has the same values you have. Then look for a group that needs help where you’re best able to offer it. Look for the best fit, because you’re more likely to stay working with them on a long-term basis if you share the same goals and values when it comes to dogs and pets. This way, you’re sure to find a city dog rescue volunteering opportunity that fits you.

SPCA Volunteer Program

If you’d rather get involved with a well-known program, then be sure to consider the SPCA. The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) has volunteer opportunities all around the world. Just do a quick Google search of “SPCA volunteer program in my area,” and you’ll find a list of organization nearby. Or you may also be able to find an SPCA org that takes volunteers on an international level. Do a Google search for organizations that accept this type of help. This might be a great way to help others while on vacation, for instance! Either locally or internationally you’ll be helping animals in need.

Dog Rescue How to Start

Have you ever thought about starting a dog rescue of your own? If you love animals and would love to help homeless pets in your area, then starting a dog shelter might be a great choice. While this is a wonderful thought, you’ll have to realize from the very beginning that starting a rescue shelter for dogs and other animals is like starting any other type of business. You’ll have to consider not only the where’s and how-to’s, but you’ll need to consider any laws and rules in your local area—city, state and federal laws could govern animal shelters. You’ll need to do your homework.

Here are some things you’ll need to first consider:

1. Do you have the time and energy it takes to start up and run an animal shelter? Running a shelter is a 24/7 job; there’s no getting around that. Do you have the time and energy to take on that level of commitment?

2. Training & experience: you’ll need training and experience working with animals, or will need people who do. Can you find such people who are interested in working with you to run a shelter? Can you afford to hire people if you can’t find volunteers? And don’t forget—you’ll also need experience with pet health issues—do you have the knowledge? Will a local vet volunteer their time and energy to care for these shelter pets? Can you hire a vet to work with the pets?

3. Facilities: do the facilities exist in a zone where it’s legal to have a pet shelter? If there are no existing facilities, can you have one built—what will it cost? Do you know what type of kennels or other areas (think of quarantine zones) will be needed? How many dogs will you house? You must think of all of these areas and do the research to find what is lawful where you plan to open the shelter.

4. Funding: you’ll need a regular income for the shelter in order to care for the animals and the facility upkeep, etc. Where will the funding come from? Will you take donations? If so, will you accept money only, or will you also accept donations of other pet supplies, medical equipment, medical supplies, etc.? You can’t run the shelter on only dreams—you’ll need regular funding of some form in order to care for the pets who will be depending on you.

Other considerations will include non-profit status—what will it take to become a non-profit org in your state, city or county? You’ll also need to have an accounting system set up, and insurance to cover accidents such as dog bites, fire, etc.

When you’re researching these and other issues, you can begin by reaching out to other dog shelters and animal rescues to see how they were set up and how they run. The Humane Society also offers information on best practices for animal shelters and more.

We’ve covered many possibilities for volunteer work with dog shelters and pet rescue shelters. You can find a local pet shelter or even one at an international destination that takes temporary helpers. Just look around and see what you can find. And you can even start your own animal shelter, but you’ll need to the research to see what it takes to open a shelter in your own area.

Regardless of where you choose to volunteer, just know that your help, love and care will be much appreciated by the shelter pets and the people who work with them. You’ll also feel good about helping those in need—not only can you lift their spirits and hope, but you can help them become more adoptable and find their new fur-ever homes.

Related Sources: Plos One Phys Org Washington Post

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Kim is a talented author, who loves animals especially dogs. She engaged in writing books and articles relating to animals a decade ago. Kim resides in Chicago with her husband and son. The family is the proud owner of a dog and a parrot (Jack and Lily). Kim wanted more than these two pets, but her husband put his foot down... She often visits elementary schools to talk to the kids about what she learned about pets and how they could learn from them.

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