Whether you’re searching for enrichment activities or are interested in making an impact on your community, participating in pet-related volunteering work can be a great experience for animal lovers or pet owners. There is a vast range of volunteer opportunities available for various skill sets, and some of the options will be discussed below.
Ways to volunteer with your pet:
Take your pet on a charity run – There are numerous pet friendly charity races that vary in distance, which can range from a mile to a half marathon. These organizations can fundraise for a variety of causes, whether it’s alleviating inequities in animal communities or funding for cancer research. Bringing your pet to a charity race can be a great way to spend time with your pet and get some exercise while making an impact on underserved communities.
Volunteer your dog as a therapy animal – whether it’s at a hospital, nursing home, or a school, volunteering your pet as a therapy animal can be incredibly impactful for many people. Pets are great friends and companions, so lending them to other people for emotional support can help decrease stress and anxiety, reduce loneliness, and improve patients’ overall quality of life.
Train your dog as a search and rescue pet – As a search and rescue animal, dogs help humans with various tasks. They can track people who are lost in the wilderness, find patients who have wandered off from their facilities, or locate people who have been lost in the midst of natural disasters. Although this may take some training and practice, your dog can save many lives by participating in search and rescue. There are certain breeds, however, that may be more suitable to these tasks, such as blood hounds, german shepherds, labrador retrievers, etc., so make sure to contact the organization about certain requirements before volunteering your pet.
Donate your pet’s blood – canine blood donations can save many pet lives by assisting in the treatment of anemia, certain cancers, bone marrow disease, etc. The process of donating blood requires the dog to lie on their side or belly, where they are then injected with a small needle that removes about 2 cups of blood. However, there are certain requirements to become an eligible blood donor, so make sure to check in with your local canine blood bank.
Be a foster parent – Although many people adopt pets, fostering is also a great short-term option that can make a positive difference. Many abandoned kittens and puppies are often born with no one to care for them, so they need someone who can temporarily care for them until they are of age and able to return to the shelter. Even though foster parenting isn’t permanent, it can still have a long lasting impact on both the owner and the pet.
Activism – Working as a collective is one of the best ways to motivate change in our local, state, and national governments. By registering as a pet advocate in pet organizations that interest you (at the local to federal level) such as Pet Partners, you can bring greater awareness to topics like the impact of therapy animals, animal abuse, or animal trafficking.
Shelter environments – Another great way to make an impact is volunteering at a pet shelter. Volunteers generally help introduce adoptable animals to the public and encourage adopters to make a positive decision while providing helpful advice. However, unfamiliar noises and situations can make shelter environments stressful or anxiety inducing for abandoned, lost pets.
Adopting animals – Over 6 million pets are admitted into U.S. animal shelters nationwide every year and over 4 million of them are adopted by new families! Although adoption rates have increased over the past few decades and euthanization rates have declined, we still have a long way to go in ensuring every pet has a home and are raised/bred sustainably. Join the movement today and choose adoption.