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Volunteer with your local animal shelter

People aren’t the only ones who need help and care at shelters. There are literally thousands of owner-less dogs that need love and care as well. Communities all across America have animal shelters that are likely in need of dedicated animal lovers like you to volunteer.

Dogs in animal shelter

How to get started

Before contacting any shelters, do some online research to check each organization’s policies, philosophies and volunteer opportunities. Keep in mind that some shelters do have to euthanize but there are also some no-kill shelters. If you have strong feelings against animal euthanasia, seek out a no-kill shelter where you can offer your services.

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Contact a shelter

Contact your local shelter and ask to speak with the director or whomever handles volunteer requests. Ask for a meeting or if she has time to review with you over the phone some specific volunteer needs the shelter may have. Find about age requirements, time/days volunteers are need to ensure it coincides with your schedule, and any other general questions you have.

Be realistic about your role

Remember that not every volunteer position is going to allow you to simply cuddle with the dogs and cats all day.

Many volunteer positions at shelters include “dirty deeds” like cleaning and sanitizing cages or administration work such as filing. Don’t get discouraged, however. Remember that every volunteer effort you make with the shelter — regardless of the amount of contact you have with the animals — is helping the organization care for the animals.

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Can you volunteer if you are already a pet owner

Many pet lovers who want to volunteer their time to animal shelters are pet owners, naturally. There is no major risk to your pet if you volunteer at a shelter as long as you ensure that your pet has regular vet checkups and is up to date on its vaccinations.

Read up on these pet safety tips >>

Be sure to wash your hands thoroughly before and after you volunteer (whether or not you had contact with any animals) and toss your clothes in the hamper or the wash after your volunteer shift.

More on volunteer opportunities

How (and why) to volunteer with your pet
Teaching kids the value of volunteering
Pet rescue stories

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