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Animal Shelter Volunteers – Having Fun While Helping Creatures In Need

Animal fans often have difficulty finding hands-on animal work, and most animal shelters are underfunded and cannot hire enough help.  Volunteering at a shelter is, therefore, a win-win situation….as most who have volunteered at anything will attest, the helper benefits as much as the “helped”.

Typical Volunteer Duties

Hands-on animal work at shelters may involve walking, grooming or bathing dogs, cleaning cages and preparing food.  Many volunteers find interacting with dogs, parrots, cats and other animals in need of human contact to be a very pleasurable aspect of their experience.  In doing so, they make the residents’ stay more pleasant, and fulfill their desire for close contact with a variety of creatures.

People with other skills can often help out in office work, fund-raising or educational programs.

Donations and other Support

Shelters are almost always in need of funds, but cash donations are not within everyone’s means.  However, donations of blankets, newspapers and pet food for the animals, or of used televisions, radios, refrigerators and other appliances for the staff, are always greatly appreciated.  You can find your local shelter by logging on to the Pets911 Website.

If hands-on work is not within your means, there are a number of other ways that you can assist your local pet shelter.  For example, you can adopt rather than buy a pet (please see the PetFinder Website for help), and can encourage others to do so as well.

The Long View – Supporting Favorable Laws

Supporting legislation that is favorable to shelters can make a real and lasting difference to millions of people and animals.   The website of the Humane Society of the United States, the country’s leading animal welfare organization, is packed with valuable information on lobbying for animal-friendly legislation and addressing unfavorable conditions noted at animal shelters.

The Humane Society Website also maintains status reports on pending animal welfare laws and, most importantly, provides a simple tool for submitting petitions and contacting politicians.  The laws tracked cover everything from circus elephant care and cat kennel size to cock-fighting.

If you are interested in following and commenting on laws affecting wildlife and the environment, please check out the legislative trackers hosted by the Sierra Club and the Center for Biological Diversity.

Adoption Events at ThatFishPlace/ThatPetPlace

We at ThatFishPlace/ThatPetPlace work hard to do our part for homeless animals by regularly hosting pet adoption events in conjunction with local animal welfare organizations.

Please check here to learn more about our long association with the Humane League of Lancaster County and our upcoming Greyhound Adoption Events (irresistible, adoptable greyhounds will be at our store on October 30 and November 27, 2010!).

Career Boosting

Working at an animal shelter is a wonderful means of building skills and making contacts that will help you in a future career with animals, should that be your goal.  My own volunteering efforts took me to the Bronx Zoo and then on to a lifelong career; please see Volunteering at Zoos, Aquariums and Nature Centers to learn more.


Further ReadingMany of the articles posted on ThatPetBlog address animal welfare and similar concerns.  Following is a small sample:

Adopting Shelter Pets

Animal Abuse – Understanding the Law and Reporting Violators

Orphaned Wild Animal Babies




  1. avatar

    hi!This was a really marvelous theme!
    I come from milan, I was fortunate to seek your blog in digg
    Also I get much in your blog really thank your very much i will come daily

  2. avatar

    interesting, thanks

  3. avatar

    This is the 2nd occasion I have come across your blog post in the last couple weeks. Seems like I ought to take note of it.

  4. avatar

    Hello, Frank Indiviglio here.

    Thanks very much for your support and kind remarks.

    Perhaps you might be interested in my articles on ThatReptile Blog and ThatBirdBlog as well…please enjoy and I look forward to your future comments and questions.

    Best regards, Frank

  5. avatar


    Frank Indiviglio here.

    Thanks for your interest, much appreciated. I look forward to hearing from you in the future.

    Best regards, Frank

  6. avatar
    Christie (and her dog Tiffany)

    Thanks for the post. I’ve been volunteering at an animal shelter for almost a year now and it’s been a really rewarding experience. I can’t reccommend it enough to anyone who loves animals!

  7. avatar

    Hello Christie,

    Frank Indiviglio here.

    Thanks for your interest in our blog. I agree…it really does seem that volunteers in almost any situation benefit greatly from there experience, while doing allot of good in the process.

    Enjoy and please keep me posted, Frank

  8. avatar

    This is a very inspiring blog. I just love animals and I would love to help them in my own little ways. In fact there way this time when I donated a rabbit hutch in our community for a mini zoo project and it was a fulfilling experience especially now that the mini zoo is benefiting a lot of kids in our community.

About findiviglio

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Being born with a deep interest in animals might seem unfortunate for a native Bronxite , but my family encouraged my interest and the menagerie that sprung from it. Jobs with pet stores and importers had me caring for a fantastic assortment of reptiles and amphibians. After a detour as a lawyer, I was hired as a Bronx Zoo animal keeper and was soon caring for gharials, goliath frogs, king cobras and everything in-between. Research has taken me in pursuit of anacondas, Orinoco crocodiles and other animals in locales ranging from Venezuela’s llanos to Tortuguero’s beaches. Now, after 20+ years with the Bronx Zoo, I am a consultant for several zoos and museums. I have spent time in Japan, and often exchange ideas with zoologists there. I have written books on salamanders, geckos and other “herps”, discussed reptile-keeping on television and presented papers at conferences. A Master’s Degree in biology has led to teaching opportunities. My work puts me in contact with thousands of hobbyists keeping an array of pets. Without fail, I have learned much from them and hope, dear readers, that you will be generous in sharing your thoughts on this blog and web site. For a complete biography of my experience click here.
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