Volunteering at a Shelter

I first became familiar with this concept while working at my job when we lived in Phoenix, AZ for a year. The company I worked for had a volunteerism day where instead of going into the office the team voted on where we could give back within our community. The group voted for a food pantry that serves the homeless hot meals twice per day. What an eye opening experience! This got me thinking, “Why can’t I do this at an animal shelter?” Upon researching shelters in the area I chose a local “no kill” shelter where I could volunteer some of my time. Here’s what I learned.

1. We actually lived in Maricopa, AZ and when I searched for shelters I searched in the Phoenix area. My thought process was I would volunteer after work and before going home. What ended up happening is I decided to volunteer on the weekend instead and once I was committed I didn’t feel like I could cancel just because of distance. The shelter I volunteered at was an hour away from our house so this made for a VERY early Saturday morning. Much to my regret and I’m ashamed to admit… I didn’t go back and volunteer again because of the distance alone. I did however make a donation and purchased some items they had for sale after I was done volunteering that day. The name of the shelter is Home Fur Good and they are truly an amazing and inspiring group of people.

2. I understood going in that it wouldn’t be all play and cuddle time with the animals. However, in talking with my friends I discovered that’s exactly what they thought! So, word to the wise: be prepared to deal with poop, pee, vomit, hissing, loud barking, cage rattling, preparing smelly food, sweeping, taking out trash, and much more. The shelters need all hands on deck to clean kennels, scoop litter boxes, feed the animals and they will warn you (or at least they should) about which pets to be wary of while you’re there. For example, I volunteered in the cats room only and did end up getting scratched by the cat I was warned to keep back from. No hard feelings though. I’m a cat person so I get it.

3. It’s great to volunteer, but you should also consider putting in a donation as well. The donations can be in the form of money OR in pet food, litter, paper towels, trash bags, blankets, pet beds, toys and other items. Ask the shelter you’re going to what they are running low on. The monetary donations are also important to help with costs associated with vaccines, spay/neuter, heartworm meds, deworming meds, and other expenses. While shelters wait for adoptions and adoption fees to help recoop some of their cost, monetary donations help with the ever growing bill for saving these precious lives.

Hope you found this to be helpful and informative. Research local shelters in your area and give them a call to see how you can help!

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