View Full Version : Advice needed from people who volunteer at animal shelters

03-11-2004, 05:59 AM
I have decided to start volunteering at a local shelter for cats. I was there not too long ago to get my new cat Odin and I was impressed with how the shelter looked and was run. Plus it is a no kill shelter ( I don't think I could volunteer at one that did euthanize animals).
What I wondered was what you as a volunteer found to be the biggest challenges. Did you find yourself wanting to take more cats home? Any other advice?
I want to go into this prepared, so any help is greatly appreciated.

03-11-2004, 06:14 AM
Good for you!!!

I want to go into this prepared
I don't know as anyone can REALLY prepare you. Because even though the shelter is no-kil, there is a lot of saddness. Cats will come in from all places. The may be sick, victims of abuse or neglect, unwanted by their own families. And there are alway more and more cats that can't be helped due to lack of space and funding.


They NEED you!! They need to be shown love and kindness. They need to learn how to trust again. And without you, they can't make it.

03-11-2004, 06:57 AM
It's funny but I started a thread not so long ago asking the same question! Jen and others encouraged me to do it and prepared me for the sadness too. I certainly am no where near as seasoned as a lot of these people but I couldn't stop going to the shelter now. I love it!! Yes, there are times when I wish I hadn't come in that day but I find myself looking forward to my next volunteer night.
The biggest challenge for me is to not let it overwhelm me. There are so many kitties crying and begging for your attention all at once and you only have so many hands. Sometimes I want to just stand in the middle of the room and scream! Then I regroup and do my very best to touch and handle each one.
YES!!! I do want to bring more home!!! I play a game with myself that is working so far. I have nine cats and I gave myself permission to have no more than twelve. An even dozen! Ok, so that means I can have three more right? Each night I'm at the shelter I look around and say ok if I could take three which three would they be. I could not possibly choose three out of the 135 cats that are there!!! Each one is as deserving as the other and guilt keeps me from choosing one over another. This game is working so far!!!!http://petoftheday.com/talk/images/our_smilies/biggrin.gif
One more thing and I will shut up...All these wonderful PT people keep telling me what a wonderful job I'm doing and how great it is that I'm helping these kitties and that is wonderful encouragement!! I truly feel that I come home having recieved far more than I have given. These babies give nothing but unconditional love and appreciation for the few minutes you gave them. I don't think I could stop now if I had too.
I think anyone who is interested should try it. If you find that it's not for you then you don't have to go back.http://petoftheday.com/talk/images/our_smilies/wink.gif

03-11-2004, 07:09 AM
Hello again,

I've called the shelter, and I'm going in tomorrow to speak with the manager. She has an orientation session where she answers questions and gives advice as well as pointing out any potential problems. Also she talks about the work that I will be doing.
I've wanted to volunteer for a long while, so I think I will do this. Besides, I feel I owe this shelter something, after all, they were kind enough to look after Odin before he came home with me.
I'll post again tomorrow after I've been.
I'm very excited about this, and I know it will be hard work, but very rewarding too.

Laura's Babies
03-11-2004, 09:22 AM
I admire all of you who do this and you will love it, I think. I wish my job permitted me to do that but it don't so I do what I can in other ways. GO girl and love them for me!

03-11-2004, 09:40 AM
Even minutes of socialization for any cat can make a world of difference.

Every minute counts.

Go love them.

03-11-2004, 09:48 AM
Hi Louise!
I am very proud that you are going in to do this! I can only do what I do at home but surely support you and others who actually go in and love on these animals. I am sure every little bit helps. It is time they would not have - if you were not there. It could also be that little bit of socialization that allows them to find a home eventually!! Blessings to you and please write about your experiences, OK?

03-11-2004, 09:55 AM
Volunteering at a shelter is a very rewarding experience. When I first started, I wanted to make a difference in their lives. But I felt guilty not being able to take each and every one of them home with me.

As my best (rescue) friend put it...Go in, love them, clip their nails and brush them, talk to them and FUSS over them. Give them all you can knowing that it DOES make a difference. Best advice she ever gave.

Thought I'd pass it on. You got some great advice here from people with much experience.

Have fun!

Kona & Oreo's mom
03-11-2004, 10:23 AM
Most shelters need office help too, not just help with the care of the animals. Perhaps if you find it too hard emotionally to work directly with the critters you could volunteer to do paperwork, filing, customer service/phones, newsletters, information booths, Web site maintenance, PR, fundraising, etc.

There are many valuable ways to help!

03-11-2004, 12:00 PM
I think that Jen , as usual hit the nail on the head. There are so many Cats ,that are lonely , and starved for attention , and love that I always felt guilty , leaving them. And when I bring in toys , or treats , it encourages the Little ones , as it must remind them , of when they were the Special Ones , as Kittens and were so loved. And that whenyou give them something special ,it is not charity , but the fact that you are the ONE , the One that is going to take them , and give them that Furr Ever Home that all Pets want , and need!But unless they get Love , and Affection , they can become depressed , so Human Contact is vital1 All the Best , and Found Cats and I salute YOU! MMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR RRRREEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEW!

03-15-2004, 08:18 AM
Hi again,

I just wanted to post and let everyone know that I have just come back from my first time volunteering at the animal shelter.
I went there for about 3 hours today, and sat with the cats and played. I did feel a bit overwhelmed at first, because the cats all seemed so desparate for attention, but I made sure that everyone got a cuddle.
I'm going to be going back once a week to start. The lady that runs the shelter says a big problem is people wanting to volunteer everyday and then getting burned out, so we agreed that once a week to start would be great.
Of course I saw so many nice cats, and I wish I could take more home, but at least this way I'm doing a small bit to make the cats more likely to be adopted.
Thanks again for all the advice, it certainly came in handy.

03-15-2004, 08:22 AM
It is overwhelming and it will get a little easier with time. I say a little easier because you always want to give them all so much attention but there isn't time.
I'm glad your first experience went well and I'm really glad to hear that your going back. I do two days a week and I wish I could do more. I guess every little bit helps! Good luck and try to have fun!!http://petoftheday.com/talk/images/our_smilies/biggrin.gif

03-15-2004, 08:33 AM
I am glad it went well! :)