Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Shelter Volunteer, Is It For You?

Have you considered becoming a shelter volunteer?

Shelters and humane societies around the world depend on volunteers who come in each weekend for several hours. Their job is to find out what sort of pet a person is looking for and carries a sheet with the location of all the different breeds – and the temperament. Because volunteers work with the animals daily, they know what type of family is suited to each pet. The volunteers are vitally interested in making the right fit, because they do not want to see an animal returned.

Becoming a shelter volunteer is not for the faint-of-heart. Taking care of hundreds of dogs and cats is possibly one of the easier aspects of the job, but the hardest part is the knowledge that many animals will have to be put down after a certain amount of time, or if they pose a threat to other animals or people.

The most common feeling most new volunteers go through is the overwhelming desire to rescue them all. That is why shelters normally do not allow volunteers to adopt any animal for the first 6 months; without that rule, the temptation to fill one's home with otherwise hard-luck pets would be just too great. There is always that one special kitten or puppy.

Instead, volunteers rejoice over singular victories connecting pets with people.

Volunteers perform a plethora of services. They help feed the animals, clean the cages and, of course, help people find lifetime companions. Volunteers also help transport animals between shelters and clinics to perform veterinary services. Some volunteers help educate children in the importance of responsible pet ownership. A few volunteers will "foster" animals that need special care and cannot be housed with the general pet population.

Shelters are very flexible in the hours. Every extra hour donated is helpful, but many volunteers have a tough time staying away.

People become volunteers for different reasons.

Volunteering is a good way to encourage a lifetime of community service. Shelters accept volunteers at different ages, but usually a person must be at least 14 or 15. Teenagers can also earn community service credits by volunteering at shelters.

Finally, volunteering at a shelter is an excellent family activity. Each member learns the importance of kindness, responsibility and how even one person can make a difference.

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