6 Things you Should Consider Before Volunteering
All shelters are not created equal. Volunteering at one is very different from volunteering at another. However, there is some common ground, we are going to cover in this article. Volunteering is highly beneficial for both sides. Volunteer get to spend quality time with the less fortunate animals, and the shelter who is low on labor continue to care about the animals.
Let’s get through the volunteering quickly and cover the main points of interest. We get asked the same things time and again, so we thought it would be handy to cover most of the FAQ in this short guide.
- Time commitment
This is very specific to each shelter. Some require a set minimum of volunteer hours per week or month. Others will be happy to see you whenever you have a free day or even an hour.
There are shelters which lack any specific time requirements so you can pop whenever you have a chance. Others email you every week or two listing the upcoming events where you might help.
Depending on the type of work you would like to do at the shelter, you might have to undergo a training class or program. Some shelters offer individual training, others held training sessions with all their volunteers at once.
This is very individual and you have to check it with the specific shelter. There are many tasks in the daily operations. Make sure to check that upfront or you might end up doing something you loathe. If you love the cats, dogs and running I bet you would love to take the animals for their daily walk but might as well loath speaking with people so passing fliers or answering calls might not be for you.
- Equipment required and used at the shelter
The shelter usually provides the tools and any special equipment you might need in your work with the animals. Depending on the type of job you want to undertake, you might find yourself working even with pressure washers or construction equipment. If you are bathing or grooming the animals, you will be given the specific tools as well.
However, shelters do not provide any clothing (apart from volunteer shirts) or footwear. Volunteers are expected to take care of that part of the equipment. They don’t require much, just to make sure your clothing and footwear is suitable for the type of work you are performing. If you are taking phone calls or working in an office environment you might not need to change your formal attire. If you are cleaning the cages or taking the animals for a walk, you would definitely prefer more comfortable clothes and shoes. I highly recommend using athletic shoes. You will feel much better walking or running in those, especially if you have any foot problems. Personally, I use wide running shoes that accommodate bunions but you might as well find flat feet shoes or for high arches.
- Types of animals in the shelter
While most of the shelters house cats and dogs, there are some who also take in rats or snakes. If you have specific preferences about the type and size of the animals you are expected to take care of, just ask before you apply for a volunteer.
- Indoors or outdoors
Usually the indoor areas are climate controlled, but part of the volunteer’s work include working outdoors. You might want to check that before hand if you don’t like working under the elements.