Why People Volunteer at Shelters

February 24, 2012  

We are focusing on shelters this month and everyone knows how they are enriched by a staff of volunteers. So we asked our Facebook fans, ’If you volunteer at your local shelter, what motivated you to get involved? What have you learned by volunteering?’

It was common for people to volunteer for a pure love of animals and to make a difference in their lives. And all are richly rewarded for the experience.

Thanks everyone for sharing and for your unconditional love and devoted service to being part of the solution.

(photos by Melissa Lipani)

I first became a dog lover 14 years ago, when we got our first dog. I then went to the humane society to volunteer, those doggies need all the love and exercise they can get! For those who say to me “I don’t know how you do it, I’d want to take them all home!” well, you have to look at it from the dog’s point of view; any amount of attention, caring, and physical activity is better than none. Obviously we can’t take them all home, or I surely would!
What I learned is how to be calm and stay that way, no matter how out-of-control the dog is behaving. You wait until the dog calms down before you try anything else. Stress begets more stress! Best lesson ever!

~ Terry Vance Sheldon

I volunteered at my local shelter because I wasn’t in a place where I could own a dog of my own, but I missed having one! I had recently lost my job and had free time so I was determined to make something good of it. It was a great experience and I ended up adopting one of the dogs anyway. It was my first real experience with pitties and I learned what amazing, sweet, and loving creatures they are. I also learned how spending quality time with some caring people can really bring a dog out of his/her shell and brighten their day.

~ Kate Dobbins

I got my dog from a rescue organization and am so grateful for the care he received before I adopted him I wanted to pay it forward

~ Christine Bandy

I was motivated by the fact that I like animals better than people. I am an RN and working with my patients is so rewarding, but I felt as if nothing ever truly gets resolved. People do not care about their health. So, I went to the shelter because of my love for animals and they clearly do care! They want love and kindness and return it ten-fold. Life is a gift to them and we are responsible for following through.
What have I learned? Unfortunately that humans are hideous, dangerous, neglectful and the most despicable specie in the animal kingdom. This only reinforced my love for animals over people!

~ Jenna Milosevich Martin

What motivated us to get involved wad the senseless of the abuse, neglect animals especially pit bulls. After adopting our first pibble it was love at first sight and the love she showed us immediately was overwhelming. We could no longer sit in on the sidelines and be cheerleaders; we had to get in the game to really make a difference!

~ Kelli Parker

It is hard for most people to volunteer at a shelter most as find the demand of the animals overwhelming. But I plead with everyone please do go and help walk and socialize the animals so they get a better chance of being adopted. I find holidays is the hardest for people to find time to help, but my husband and I always do the holidays and I know the dogs love it when they can stretch their legs. And a great way to pick your next dog or cat because volunteering gives you a better idea who is right for you.

~ Martina Kloepper Steed

I was rescued by a little cat when I was at my lowest. He found me in a parking lot in Newark NJ at UMDNJ hospital. I loved him so much I started seeing him in the eyes of every other animal I encountered. The municipal shelter was on the verge of being privatized to a guy who had a horrible reputation (and was subsequently banned from having anything to do with shelters in the state) and the mayor at the time asked for volunteers. The place was a hellhole when I first walked in, but I was hooked and immediately fell in love with those homeless, helpless creatures and realized we had to speak up for them. That was about 15 years ago and despite all of the tears, heartbreak, aggravation, frustration and battles with those in charge I would never give it up and just wish I’d gotten involved sooner. By the way, the extremely high-kill and shoddily run pound is now a much better facility with an extremely low euthanasia rate, a term I can use in this case because it’s only done in cases of extreme illness or unadoptability. In 2009 we didn’t lose one animal to the needle. Something I never thought I’d be able to say back in the day.

~ Karen Banda

I started volunteering within a month or two of getting my driver’s license. I don’t think there was any real decision to do it- it was something I always wanted to do. Haven’t volunteered for a few years mostly due to poor health and long work weeks, but hopefully I will be back one day. One of my main issues (depending on the shelter) was allergic reactions to some of the cleaning products. Used to have a brilliant time, though, and the staff and volunteers are always nice and great fun to be around.

~ Belinda Barritt

A friend got me started as a volunteer at our humane society and I love it.. I love the dogs and they love you ten-fold back … they are never in a bad mood, always full of kisses and I love seeing each one blossom into a better dog because of the volunteers that come to walk, socialize and teach each and every one of them. Any day off I go to the shelter… it’s relaxing and it’s my dog time, and I wouldn’t trade it for the world!!

~ Karen Kratosky Spidle

I’m a rescue dog transporter. I love all dogs but do have a soft spot for the bully kids. If I can I try to co-pilot one on my run. They listen and settle down so well. When I first started to drive everybody would ask if I was afraid of them I wasn’t. It just never occurred to me to be. The only time it got interesting was when I had seven dogs my co-pilot and one little pot belly piggy who oinked ever so softly, that was a trip! I really love the big goofy kids the best their smooches have no compare!

~ Theresa Johnson

Spring was coming and my new house had the perfect space to foster kitties. I filled out the paperwork to foster, which put me on the email list, and I answered the call to trim cat nails, then a blind foster dog needed a home…and I have been 200% involved ever since. I even now hold a seat on the board of our local non-profit group that takes the REALLY hard cases from the local shelter.
I have learned that not all volunteers (and staff) have the exact same ideals of how we can help and save these animals. More importantly I have seen the love and care that soooooooooo many have. I love to see the enthusiasm of new volunteers (not that I am an old pro) as it re-energizes me. The thing that tops it all, is seeing an animal find a new home and how excited they are, and how excited their new family is. You can’t help but get warm fuzzies.

~ Tina MacNaughton

I have always been a dog lover and especially love pit bulls, so when my sister in law told me about Fresno Bully Rescue I signed up for the next volunteer orientation and have been down there at least once a week to walk those wonderful bullies and get lots of kisses! Sometimes I will pick up a dog for a “doggy day pass” which is basically a play date. We walk down a trail behind some local businesses and then stop by an outdoor local pub and sit on the patio where we enjoy the afternoon. It makes my day to see all the patrons’ positive reactions to the dogs I bring there and I know the dogs appreciate as much human interaction as possible as well as a day away from the shelter.

~ Amber Dunn

I was living in a neighborhood where backyard breeding of pit bulls was common and stray dogs were part of the scenery. It was breaking my heart. I got involved with volunteering to help myself deal with the pain I felt from the problems I saw around me.

~ Emily Storkamp

I had NEVER been around bully type dogs EVER until I volunteered at my local shelter (HSGA). The dogs truly have been my teachers. I have learned tons about the bully type dogs and because of that experience I was driven to testify before the Ohio Senate Judiciary committee in support of HB14, a bill that gives pit bulls an even shake! I NEVER would have done that had it not been for my volunteer work. Now I know that while I may never own one, they have earned my support, love and respect and they have taught me so much about dogs in general!

~ Mia Hess

That every helping hand by the volunteers makes an impact as they are part of a large process….every little or large bit helps!

~ Susan Rodriguez

In my day job at a church, I connect with people every day. I love it and it’s a privilege to be of service there. I knew that, when I began searching for volunteer opportunities this past year, I wanted to find something that called me outside of my comfort zone and connected me with a cause in a really big way.
Having just become a new dog owner in July of 2011, I figured that while my pup got lucky and found an immediate home, others were not so fortunate. Municipal shelters are in great need of volunteers and their charges need greater advocacy. I believe that volunteering at a shelter helps both me and the dogs. I have an opportunity to become more sensitive to their non-verbal communication and needs, and I am also learning to be a better guardian for my own 4-legged companions. It’s a win-win all the way around. I ♥ BACS.

~ Lisa Harrington

I volunteer because if I don’t, I’m just as guilty as those who don’t contribute to the welfare and justice of abused animals. I’ve learned that animals have an unconditional love that humans don’t.

~ Roxanne Tankard Raynor

I have always loved animals, especially dogs. Seeing Patrick was the final straw for me. I cried and made the decision that day to stop talking and start doing.

~ Mary Morgan

I had an amazing dog who happened to be a pure bred Am Staff (pit bull) and never understood the stigma against the breed. When I heard of a local no-kill sanctuary that specialized in the rescue, rehabilitation and rehoming of pit bulls, senior, injured/ill dogs (the most at risk in shelters) I signed up to volunteer in August 2011. My beloved pit bull Rebel passed away on New Year’s and although I miss him more and more each day, he brought me to the sanctuary where I have since taken in two foster pitties…well, foster failures since I will adopt them. One of my pitties is a female named Negra and is 4 years old. She was used for breeding then no longer wanted once the owners were forced to have her fixed. She is sweet as pie and always happy around other dogs and people. She’s a beauty too. My other pittie Vito is about 1 and a half and is completely deaf. He was dumped at a local kill shelter and was brought to me the day our sanctuary rescued him…I absolutely adore him! He’s incredibly smart and not to mention HANDSOME! We are learning sign language together and he gets along beautifully with my girl Negra. My hubby and I are also temporarily fostering a 6-month- old pittie named Rosie who was brought to the sanctuary with a broken elbow that was already healed. A vet was finally found who would reset the leg (as opposed to amputation) and she is currently in a cast. When she’s done healing in about four weeks she will make a wonderful pet to any family. I’ve realized throughout this process that people treat animals like garbage, especially pit bulls. I will never understand why it is morally okay for someone to use an animal then throw it away. It’s called adoption for a reason…I see dogs as family in which you’re the guardian of and you agree to be responsible for that animals wellbeing. I volunteer to promote responsible pet ownership and how responsible ownership leads to a positive lasting relationship between the owner and pet, regardless of breed. By the way the sanctuary I volunteer for is Shadow’s Fund…they’re amazing!

~ Linsey Silva

« « What My Shelter Means to Me: Bella Vista Animal Shelter | The Pit Bull That Never Quits » »


3 Responses to “Why People Volunteer at Shelters”
  1. odiethedoggie says:

    I agree with what everyone above says!  I volunteer at a county shelter and hear people tell me all the time why they couldn’t volunteer there.  Most say “it’s too sad.”  I disagree.  It’s not sad for the people.  What would be sad is if the shelter had no volunteers.  Then the dogs wouldn’t get any time to play, receive cuddles, sniff the yard, etc.  Now that is what would be sad.  Volunteering with abandoned dogs won’t only bring  a smile to your face, it will also bring a smile to each and every dog that you  meet.  They’ll wag their tails in thanks and some will slobber you with kisses.  After you see how happy your time makes these dogs, you’ll keep going back week after week. 🙂 

  2. DouglasGoldsmith says:

    We actually started Fostering with Hurricane Katrina, Our First 2 dogs Fosters came from there, We stayed after those were Adopted because of the need for Large and XL Breed  Foster homes, Many XL breeds never make it out of a shelter because like Bully Breeds, misinformation people believe they eat 50lbs a week or they are just plain mean or hard to handle, Like All dog breeds would be if not trained properly.
       Now almost 7 years and 200 plus Foster Dogs later we still do it. Yes at times you just want to give up but, The most rewarding thing in the world is knowing that each and everyone we saved is now making it.
      Our work @Animal Rescue Project  is by far one of the most rewarding things we have ever done.