Volunteering at a shelter can be such a rewarding experience. It's a great way to give back to your community and help the animals. As a volunteer, there are a variety of ways to contribute. Whether you want to do community outreach, assist in daily activities, or work directly with the animals, any task can make a difference. Caring, dependable volunteers of any age are always needed. Be sure to choose a project that best suits your interests and abilities.
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Locate your local animal shelters. Since volunteering will require dedication and commitment, it is important that you choose the right shelter. Find out the location of each as well as the tasks and requirements particular to each shelter. Some facilities only have veterinary opportunities, while others have all aspects of volunteering. Age is important to consider. Most shelters require a volunteer to be a minimum of 13 years of age unless accompanied by an adult. Some shelters offer involvement in the community for younger volunteers.
Choose a task. Most younger volunteers will have a project in the community. This could be anything from hosting a fundraiser, organising supplies, making blankets and toys for the animals, recycling items or donating supplies to the shelter. Reading therapy is also offered and is popular for the younger volunteer. Reading to the animals reduces stress on them and allows them to feel more comfortable. Any opportunity you choose will be helpful to the animals and to the shelter.
Complete an application. Each shelter has its own application and requirements. You may need to go into the facility to get an application. Some shelters have a website with an application conveniently linked on their site. Applications generally request your personal info, emergency contact information, school and/or employment information, reason for volunteering and a release of liability signature from a parent. Some applications want you to write a little about yourself. In this section, you will want to include any previous experience with animals, any limitations you may have, and how many hours you wish to volunteer.
Attend an orientation. Once your application has been submitted and accepted, you will be contacted to attend an orientation for volunteers. Orientations are generally held on the weekends or evenings and last around two hours. Volunteers will learn the history of the shelter, policies and procedures and tour the facility. A parent must accompany the minor volunteer.
Commit to a program and schedule. Most shelters want a commitment for at least once a week for six months. Other commitments may be a single event only. The shelter will notify you of its scheduling needs before you begin volunteering. Make sure that whatever you accept, that you can be dedicated to the project.
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