Monday, October 24, 2016

How Do I Volunteer At An Animal Shelter?

October is Adopt a Shelter Dog Month. If you’ve been thinking about adopting a dog, now is the perfect time to move forward with that decision. And even if your home is already at capacity for dogs or you’re not in the right position to bring this type of animal home, you can still help animals in need by volunteering at a shelter.

Like just about everywhere else in the country, shelters around Edmond are always in need of great volunteers. So if you’d like to contribute in this way, we want to shed a little light on what to expect and the best ways you can help:

Call a Few Shelters In or Around Edmond

While the majority of shelters have the same core mission, there are unique aspects of how different ones are run and managed. You can get a feel for which shelter’s culture will be the best fit for your personality and skills by calling a few in or around Edmond on the phone. Even if you just ask a few questions, this will help you pinpoint which shelters will be the right fit for what you bring to the table as a volunteer.

Visit One or More Shelters in Person

Depending on how your phone calls go, one shelter may stand out as where you want to volunteer. If that’s the case, you should visit it in person. The same is true if you’re interested in a few shelters. When you visit, you’ll be able to look around the shelter’s facilities and speak directly with some other volunteers. When you’re ready to commit as a volunteer, it’s likely that the shelter will have you fill out an application.

Training, Scheduling and More

Some shelters have a formal training program, while others will teach as you go. The same goes for scheduling. You can easily find out whether the shelter prefers for you to schedule volunteering time in advance or just wants you to show up when you’re available. And in terms of what you can expect to do during your time at the shelter, walking the dogs, cleaning, helping organize the facilities, doing community outreach and handling adoption or foster paperwork are all examples of common volunteer activities.

Other Ways to Help

Most shelters appreciate volunteers even if they’re only able to work a few hours a week. But if for any reason that’s not possible with your current schedule, you can still support what a shelter is doing by donating money or supplies. And if you have a specialized skill such as design or marketing that may benefit a shelter, don’t hesitate to ask if they’re interested in you providing free help in that professional capacity.

And whether it’s now or in the future, be sure to read our post on questions you should ask at shelter before you bring a wonderful new addition into your home!

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