Animal Shelter Volunteer Tips | PetFirst Pet Insurance
Pet Care & Health

Tips for those wanting to volunteer at an animal shelter: Guest Blogger, Danielle Salice

by PetFirst Pet Insurance
4 years ago

After losing my boy, Capone, in January, I was at a complete loss. He was with me EVERYDAY. As a certified Service Animal, he helped me overcome physical limitations after a bad car accident and together we volunteered at Rady Children’s Hospital in San Diego, nursing homes and visited several special needs classrooms in both Northern and Southern California. He flew with me on the plane (probably has more frequent flyer miles than most people), ate at some of the best restaurants, stayed in the fanciest hotels, and attended all the pet events possible! Needless to say, we were VERY active together.

When Capone passed away, I didn’t want to sit home and cry (even though I did do A LOT of that), I knew it wasn’t healthy. I had a TON of love to share with other four-legged friends but didn’t know what, where or how I could share it. I started “borrowing” my friends’ dogs, taking them with me, having sleepovers, but it was hard. The dogs would come over and look for my boy— they would sit in his room and cry, or stare at his pictures.

That’s when I started doing online research on rescue groups in San Diego. I also called my vet to get his recommendation.  Since I attended most of the pet events in San Diego, I knew there were breed specific rescue groups. Being an avid Boxer lover, I specifically looked for a rescue group that focused on Boxers.

Of course the first group I looked up was Boxer Rescue San Diego, unfortunately, they no longer exist. However, that link sent me to Boxer’s and Birds, which then lead me to Last Chance at Life (LCAL)— All Breed Rescue and Adoption. Boxers and Birds had grown so much in the number of animals being saved that the founder, Lisa Hamilton, formed her own 501(c)3 nonprofit.  The focus of LCAL is to take in canines of ALL breeds, cats and birds. More specifically, any pet in desperate medical need, as well as relinquished animals by people who no longer can care for their pet.

When researching a shelter or rescue group to volunteer with, take the following steps:

  • Determine if they are a legitimate 501(c)3 nonprofit .
  • Find the contact information of the person in charge — normally this is listed on the organization’s website.
  • Visit with them at their next upcoming event —you can get a feel for how the events work, the people you would be volunteering with, as well as meet some of the animals.
  • Find out if the pet rescue group has a good relationship with a local veterinary hospital
  • Visit the facility where the animals are kept (if there is one), or ask to attend their monthly meeting—this way you can really see how organized it is, how dedicated the volunteers are, as well as, how they handle daily routines.
  • See if they have a volunteer orientation, and what their process is to becoming a volunteer. Having an organized process, training and hands-on workshop is key. When you are part of an animal shelter group, you are representing them, and you want to make sure you follow protocol should anything ever happen with an animal you are handling and/or visiting.

If you don’t have a specific organization in mind, you can do the following things to find one:

  • Attend a pet event— dog show, cat show or pet expo
  • Ask your current or neighborhood veterinarian to recommend an animal welfare organization
  • Check social media— your “friends” are most likely animal lovers too, so see what organizations they are posting about and which ones are in need of volunteers (most likely ALL of them!)

I have been volunteering with LCAL for more than 3 months and absolutely LOVE being part of the family. The volunteers all have the same love for pets as I do. Many of them share the same heart break I have recently experienced, so they understand.

PetFirst Pet Insurance guest blogger Danielle Salice and Cooper, her 6-year old Boxer

Morning, noon or night, if I need to talk to someone, write to someone or text someone because I am having a bad day, I know there’s someone there for me. Not only are the people there for me, but the animals are too!

I can tell these dogs are appreciative, and more importantly, the volunteers REALLY care for them and make an impact on their lives! I drive 50 miles one way to get to the facility where I volunteer, but I know once I get there, I am going to be smiling for a couple hours!

Regardless if you have your own pet or not, there is ALWAYS a shelter or rescue group that could use a helping hand. Do your research, attend a function, meet the volunteers and make sure they are organized! The feeling you will have inside after helping others is unexplainable!


PetFirst Pet Insurance guest blogger Danielle Salice and her dog posing for the camera
Danielle Salice is a pet lover, and Boxer dog aficionado— she has owned three boxers during her adult life (CarlySue, AbbySue and Capone). She also has a penchant for German Shepherds, which was her family’s breed of choice growing up. Danielle is active in the animal welfare industry and currently volunteers at Last Chance at Life, All Breed Rescue and Adoptions. Danielle became a PetFirst Pet Insurance policyholder in 2009 and has been a pet insurance advocate ever since.

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