Want to Volunteer at an Animal Shelter? Here's How to Get Started

How You Can Help

If you aren’t sure exactly how you want to help, give different areas a try. Volunteering can provide an opportunity to explore your own strengths, skills and passions, which can be helpful to you as you think toward a career after college.

Your current major or course of study can potentially offer you ways to help the shelter. Public relations, social work, law, business management, financial planning, event coordinating and human resources are just a few examples of majors in which you learn certain skills that may be useful to a shelter or rescue group.

Think beyond the classroom, too — be open and creative about how your skills and passions might help. If you are handy with tools, you can offer to help maintain and improve rescue facilities. Do you love to plan a party? Offer to help with event and fundraising projects. Strong people skills may make you a good fit for adoption counseling or community outreach. Artistic ability or craftiness could be put toward making special items to spruce up the shelter or creating crafted items and art for fundraising events. Writing, photography and videography skills can be used to showcase adoptable animals, promote rescue events and create positive adoption messaging.

Finally, don’t underestimate the power of your presence. Shelters frequently need volunteers to spend one-on-one time with pets, petting and playing and going for walks. It sounds simple but it is incredibly important work. Your presence can have a huge impact on an animal — and it can help reduce your stress level as well.

Whatever volunteer opportunity you choose, keep in mind that you will be doing a good thing for the pets you help — and for yourself as well.

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