I find it a lot easier to contemplate new projects when the weather starts warming up. Maybe it’s the longer days. Maybe it’s the rising sap. Whatever it is, every year around this time I feel like doing a #konmari of all the stuff I've accumulated over the winter and starting something new.
Lots of shelters and rescues get busy in the spring, too, and many see an uptick in adoptions as the weather gets better. With the increased activity, many of these organizations find themselves short-handed and scrambling to take care of the potential adopters as well as the animals. The start of kitten season also puts additional stress on limited resources.
If you’re interested in doing volunteer work with animals but don’t know exactly what you want to do, check out the opportunities at one your local shelters. The larger shelters generally have a range of volunteer opportunities available, and most will allow cross-training into different programs. These shelters tend to have a wait list, so if you want to sign up be prepared to wait a bit for an open orientation date.
Almost all shelters and rescues need foster volunteers, so if you can have pets in your home this is a great way to help without committing to a certain number of hours at an outside facility. Many rescues are foster-based, which means they can’t bring an animal into their program without already having a foster home lined up for it. A foster pet’s expenses (food, medicine, vet visits, equipment) are covered while in your care, so it’s a great way to be involved for very little cost.
You can also volunteer with your own animals, through programs like Pet Partners. Opportunities for animal-assisted therapy range from educational programs with at-risk youth to hospital or care home visits to de-stressing sessions with college students. Some organizations even allow human-animal teams to include pets other than dogs and cats, such as birds, horses, miniature pigs, and llamas.
In addition to all of the other benefits, volunteering is a great way to build or fill in gaps on a resume. Beyond taking care of the animals, most places will have volunteer opportunities available for people with social media, marketing, photography, clinic, and special event experience; and, if you don’t have the experience but want to get some, it’s a great way to get started.