What to Expect Volunteering at an Animal Shelter

Dave Mortach
3 min readMay 13, 2024


Volunteering at an animal shelter is a wonderful way to impact the lives of animals in need. Animal shelters provide temporary homes, care, and rehabilitation for abandoned, abused, or stray animals. If you’re considering volunteering at an animal shelter, it’s essential to understand what to expect.

This article will explore what you can anticipate when volunteering at an animal shelter.

Orientation and Training:

Most animal shelters will require you to attend an orientation session and finish basic training before you begin your volunteer job. This orientation provides valuable information about the shelter’s policies, safety guidelines, and the various tasks you’ll be involved in.

Varied Responsibilities:

Volunteering at an animal shelter involves a wide range of responsibilities. These may include cleaning kennels and cages, feeding and watering animals, socializing and exercising them, assisting with grooming, and helping with adoption events. You may also be involved in administrative tasks like filing paperwork or answering phone calls.

Emotional Challenges:

Volunteering at an animal shelter can be emotionally challenging at times. Some animals may have been mistreated or neglected, and it can be heartbreaking to witness their stories. Prepare yourself for these situations and be ready to offer comfort and support to the animals.

Building Relationships:

Building relationships with animals is one of the most rewarding aspects of volunteering at an animal shelter. Spending time with them, providing attention and affection, and helping them overcome their fears and anxieties can be immensely gratifying.

Teamwork and Collaboration:

Animal shelters are often bustling environments with a dedicated team of staff and volunteers. Expect to work collaboratively with other volunteers and shelter employees. Communication and teamwork are essential to ensure the shelter’s smooth operation and the animals’ well-being.

Learning Opportunities:

Volunteering at an animal shelter provides valuable learning opportunities. You’ll learn firsthand about animal care, behavior, and handling techniques. Take advantage of workshops or training sessions offered by the shelter to enhance your understanding of animal welfare and develop new skills.

Networking and Community Involvement:

Volunteering at an animal shelter introduces you to a network of individuals passionate about animal welfare. It’s an excellent opportunity to connect with fellow volunteers, shelter staff, and other animal advocates in your community. Engage in conversations, attend events, and participate in fundraising activities to expand your network and deepen your involvement in animal welfare initiatives.

Continued Support and Involvement:

Volunteering at an animal shelter can become a long-term commitment if you’re passionate about animal welfare. Many shelters offer ongoing volunteer opportunities, such as fostering animals, participating in outreach programs, or joining committees.

Volunteering at an animal shelter is a meaningful way to advocate for needy animals and contribute to their well-being. By understanding what to expect and approaching your volunteer work with compassion and dedication, you can make a significant difference in the lives of shelter animals and find immense personal fulfillment in the process.