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Volunteering with Pets

Love animals?

Volunteer with furry friends

They faithfully greet us when we get home. They make for great stories (and pictures). And they’ve even been said to help us heal—it’s easy to see why so many people have a passion for pets.

Animals are loyal companions and sources of joy, so why not spread their love and bring Fido along on your next trip to do good? Whether you’re volunteering at a shelter, walking a neighbor’s dog or taking along a furry friend to an assisted living facility, pets amplify your impact—and help you feel good too!

Make a new friend

Volunteering at an animal shelter is one of the easiest and most impactful ways to help pets—and shelters often need the help. From administrative work to walking animals to cleaning up around the shelter, there are plenty of ways to offer support.

And there are also countless volunteer groups to choose from: Local humane societies, SPCAs and rescue groups are often open to help, and you may even be able to foster a furry friend to give them a quiet break from shelter life. Check with your local shelter or animal activism group to see what assistance they most need.

Get the kids involved

Have you ever noticed how a newborn will stare at a dog? Kids and animals seem to share a special bond, so doing good with both is a natural fit. Some libraries and schools across the country have started programs that allow children to improve their reading with the help of pets. An animal’s patience and listening while a child reads can have lasting effects. Check with your local libraries and schools to see if such a program exists—or if you can start one.

You can also teach kids the value of giving by helping them donate to an animal shelter. Talk with them about giving money that would have been used on a birthday or holiday gift to a shelter instead. Or have your child make it the theme of the party: Instead of having guests bring gifts, many children are now asking for gifts and donations to be given to their shelter of choice. Call the selected shelter beforehand, as many often have a wish list of items already.

Share your pet

Animals often brighten our darkest days, so why not share the love you feel from your pet with others? You can take your pet to homeless shelters, schools, assisted living facilities, children’s homes or to visit someone sick in the hospital—everyone could use a little more cheer by spending time with a friendly animal.

Tip: Before heading out the door, be sure wherever you’re going knows you’re coming and allows four-legged visitors. It’s also best to have an agenda and timeframe in mind. Bring some of your pet’s favorite toys and treats—and prepare to see some smiles!

Lend a hand locally

Are you looking to help some furry friends but can’t travel to a shelter or find enough time? Check in with your neighbors to see if they have a pet that could use some company while they’re at work or away. Busy workers, elderly neighbors, members of the military and vacationers alike might want help ensuring their pet is happy and healthy. Offer to walk their dog or spend time with their cat.

Maybe your new animal friend’s owner is in the military and overseas. Snap a picture or two while you play and send it to the troop. Seeing a happy and playful pet could brighten his or her day. You can even help a soldier relocate a pet when moving.

Help Rescue Animals in Crisis

People aren’t the only ones affected when disaster strikes—pets need aid too. The American Humane Association has teams of volunteers trained to rescue animals in crisis. Learn more or become a Red Star Emergency Services team member.

Red Star Emergency Services Animal Volunteer


Know Before You Adopt

It’s tempting to take home the first furry face you see at a shelter, but it’s important to know how your new pup, kitten or other potential pet has grown up. There are plenty of ways to learn more and stay informed. And keep in mind that not every animal shelter treats its inhabitants with love. But finding a compassionate or no kill shelter near you is simple.

Raise Animal Awareness—and Funds

Want to get involved but not sure you can make a weekly or monthly commitment? There are many ways to help, from five-minute to five-day projects. You can donate to an existing fundraiser—or create your own! Advocacy opportunities abound. Sometimes it’s as easy as creating a tribute page and then spreading the word on social media.

Volunteer with animals