How to Start an Animal Shelter Volunteer Program

Increasing Shelter Live Release Rates Through a Community Volunteer Partnership

Animal shelter volunteers can provide valuable resources, manpower, and efficiencies in shelter operations. Learn how a successful shelter volunteer program can increase pet adoptions/live release rates and excellence in community relations in this 30 minute video featuring Sgt. Karl Bailey, Director of the no kill Seagoville Animal Shelter. Immediately following the video below, he shares additional tips to help animal shelter directors start a volunteer program!

Successful No Kill Animal Sheltering With Volunteers

Presented by Sgt. Karl Bailey – Seagoville Animal Shelter

This article is the companion handout to Sgt. Bailey’s presentation at the 2013 Mission: Pets Alive workshop.

I. Animal Shelter Volunteer Program

Volunteers are a must for any shelter:

  • Organize a non-profit 501(c)(3)
  • Start with a small core group of volunteers
  • Every volunteer has a unique talent that can be utilized in the shelter environment
  • Use your volunteers:
    • At the shelter (cleaning/walking/animal interaction)
    • To host adoption events (off-site and at the shelter)
    • To host fundraisers throughout the year
    • For recruiting other volunteers

II. Process for Volunteering

  • Complete Volunteer Application and return (upon approval)
  • Meet with Volunteer Coordinator or Board Member to discuss policies and procedures
    of the shelter
  • Determine hours available and whether you prefer to do onsite or off-site events
  • Welcome to a great group of volunteers
  • Seagoville Texas Animal Advocates & Rescue (“STAAR”) is the 501(c)(3) volunteer
    based, non-profit, charitable organization that works hand-in-hand with the no kill Seagoville Animal Shelter in placing animals into permanent forever homes. We are a very small, but determined, group of volunteers who have banded together to provide the support Seagoville’s shelter needs. We provide these animals with their vaccinations, spays & neuters, and any necessary vetting needed to assist them with finding their new homes!

III. Shelter Volunteer Opportunities

  • Onsite
    Volunteering onsite usually involves feeding/cleaning and walking the animals to provide them with exercise and outside time. The shelter attendant and/or Animal Control Officer are usually present during the week.
    Off-site Adoption Events
  • Adoption events are critical to keeping intake numbers down and Volunteers are a great asset to making these events work
  • Volunteering off-site includes travel to/from the shelter to locations (Petco, Walgreens, Tractor Supply, etc.)
  • A typical Saturday is usually approximately 10 hours spent feeding the animals, cleaning the shelter, transporting animals to adoption events, setting up and breaking down and getting those not adopted back to the shelter.
  • Transport animals to the vet and/or spay/neuter clinics

IV. Problematic Shelter Volunteers

  • Procedures for dealing with a problematic volunteer
  • Speak with your Volunteer Coordinator and/or Board Member about having the problematic volunteer removed from the active list of volunteers
  • Thank this volunteer for their time and dedication but explain that their services are no longer needed at the shelter/off-site
  • Remove any administrative rights to your shelter and/or volunteer Facebook pages (should they have access)

V.    Community Partnerships

    • Partner with your local High School – Seagoville H.S. Veterinary Assistant Program
      • This program allows those shelter animals that require daily hands-on care to be in an environment outside the stress of the shelter.
      • The students, under the supervision of Elizabeth Rudd, are given the opportunity to see things first hand. This school year alone the students have observed and had hands-on experience with a leg amputation, wound care, mange treatment, and caring for a new mom and her puppies.
      • This program also provides a stress free environment for our spay/neuter animals to recover from surgery.

      Partner with your local Lions Club

      • The local chapter hosts silent auctions, raffles, etc. with proceeds going towards the shelter’s building fund. Volunteers are also present to promote the event and/or host an off-site adoption event.

      Partner with your local Scout Troops / 4H

      • Our local Troop built outdoor dog kennels as part of their community project and the local 4H group hosted a garage sale with proceeds going to the shelter.

      Partner with local merchants

      • A local merchant promoted the opening of the new car wash with proceeds from the Grand Opening going to the shelter and Volunteers were on-site to hand dry each vehicle for a donation.

IX. Shelter Advertising Opportunities

      • Volunteer website ( The Volunteer website provides adoptable pets, off-site event locations and needs
      • Social Media (Facebook/Twitter) Our off-site events are posted on the shelter and volunteer Facebook pages every week

X. Using Facebook for Animal Shelter Promotions

How we use Facebook:

      • Post photos of adoptable animals
      • Post pleas for donations
      • Advertise Adoption Events
      • Happy Tails
      • Urgent needs animals • Post photos of new forever families • Post photos from forever homes

XI. What Facebook does for us:

    • Over 4,200 “Likes”
      Connects us with Rescues, Animal Welfare, Vendors, Crossposters, Transporters and especially the public
      Recruits new volunteers and fosters
    • Brings in more donations
    • Brings in people with helpful talents
    • Brings more adopters
      Spreads the word, any word, and it’s FREE!

You can help defray the costs I incur for The Homeless Pet Project (annual hosting, email list send, new video production, etc.) with the purchase of a T-shirt from The Ultimutt Life shop (click here)! There are more than 100 original designs, t-shirts, hoodies, and bags available in a variety of colors to choose from! Subscribe to my email lists by clicking here and submit a story to Pawsitively Texas here.

Original Dog Lover T-Shirts (photo)

How to Start an Animal Shelter Voluntter Program (photo)

Leave a Reply