Don’t Bark at the Wrong Tree: What You Really Need to Know about Volunteering in Animal Shelter
There is no denying the benefits of having animal companions. They help in relieving stress after a hard day at work or school, and they give owners a good sense of responsibility, making them more empathetic and affectionate to those around them in the process. Apart from the emotional and psychological benefits, having furry friends can also be a great way to connect with fellow animal lovers and thus give one’s social life a boost.
However, if you are a pet lover but may not have the opportunity to care for a furry companion at this time—whether because there is limited space at home or other reasons—a good alternative is to volunteer at your local animal shelter. This way, you will get to be around four-legged friends and enjoy the advantages. Still, being a volunteer takes a lot of hard work. Read on for information on what you can expect.
Be prepared for the screening process.
Animal shelters are funded by non-profit organizations, most of whom get aid and donations from sponsors and communities. While all of them have a need for more volunteers, they want to make sure they choose people who are qualified for the task—just like any company hiring new employees. It is not about volume or quantity but rather quality. As such, think of it as a job screening because that is what it is essentially. It is not enough that you show you are passionate for the gig, you have to show you are the best person to do so. Most of these animal shelters have a rigorous screening process, so don’t expect it to be a walk in the park.
There is a training period.
Just like landing a job at a company, animal shelters require volunteers to be trained to do the tasks expected of them. There is usually a general orientation class where the volunteer organizers discuss house rules. After that, there are more focused training sessions, especially if you will be assigned to handle animal companions who have been abandoned and abused. In some cases, especially for dogs, volunteers are typically grouped, one group to work with small dogs and the other to work with large dogs.
It’s not for the glamour-obsessed.
It is easy to get excited about working with animals. After all, we have all seen hundreds of videos on youtube and Instagram to know just how cute they can be—even when they are fast asleep. However, animal shelters need volunteers who can do more than pet these beloved creatures or feed them treats or walk them to the park. They need volunteers to clean up after these pets. As much as you want to avoid the topic, these furry creatures eat regularly on a daily basis, and as such, they do get rid of their bodily waste and fluids on a daily basis too. You have to do your share in cleaning up and making their spaces as sanitary as possible, and that means picking up poop (for dogs) or scooping out waste from the litterbox (for cats).
You should have great PR skills.
There is nothing wrong with being an introvert, but some have the misconception that animal shelters are for those who do not like dealing with people. Remember, animal shelters intend to provide temporary shelter for furry creatures and connect them with fellow animal lovers but their ultimate goal is to find them owners. As such, expect to receive frequent visits from people who are looking into bringing a four-legged companion into their homes, and it is your job to make sure they are well-informed about the animals up for adoption. You don’t have to have medical or legal expertise, of course, but you have to put your best foot forward and be an inspiration to these people who want to adopt. After all, every animal deserves a good home.
It requires commitment.
Animal shelters take their mission and vision seriously. If you wish to be a volunteer, you have to give your 110% percent, and that means you don’t go in to do volunteer work just when you are available or just when you feel like it. It is not something you do just because you are bored and you can stop volunteering whenever you please. Animal shelters need commitment from you, and this requires you assuring them that you will meet your assigned hours and days consistently for a period of 6 months at the most.
So there you have it. The things you can expect if you want to volunteer at an animal shelter. Sure, it does seem a daunting task now. However, it is truly something worth doing and a rewarding experience.
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