Minimum Age Requirement
I am under the minimum age requirement for the position I am interested in. Do you make exceptions to your minimum age rule?
Most of our volunteer positions require volunteers to be at least 18 years of age. There are some positions available for youth ages 8 to 17.
For the safety of our volunteers and animals, we do not make exceptions to our age requirements. However, we have many other ways for youth to support the animals and learn about animal welfare.
Youth can also consider having a parent apply to be a foster volunteer. Although the primary volunteer must be 18 years of age, the entire family can participate in the fostering experience.
Training & Prior Experience
Will I have training before I start volunteering?
Yes! Each role has training that covers all aspects of that volunteer role. This is done both online - accessible via computer, phone, or tablet - and in-person with staff and volunteer mentors. The time it takes to complete training varies based on volunteer availability, training schedules and the specific needs of the volunteer role.
Do I need to have experience to volunteer?
We supply all the training needed for most of our entry-level positions; any exceptions are noted on the position descriptions. For our advanced volunteer positions, we require and provide additional training. No prior experience is needed to volunteer in our entry level positions, but we do require all volunteers to have good communication skills and a willingness to learn. Volunteers must be able to read and understand written instructions and be able to communicate with staff and other volunteers both orally and in writing. Once trained our volunteers work independently and must be proactive in asking questions or seeking help when needed. We frequently update our protocols to improve our care practices, and volunteers need to be proactive in learning these changes without one-on-one staff guidance. Volunteers must be proactive and comfortable in communicating with staff and fellow volunteers about any questions or concerns.
How often do I need to volunteer?
We require volunteers to fill a regularly scheduled shift at least once per week. Volunteers are welcome to work more often if there is a need for shift coverage, either in a regularly scheduled shift or by picking up open shifts online. Volunteer shifts typically range from 2-3 hours.
Why do you ask for a six-month commitment?
In order to provide the animals in our facilities the best care and support, we do require volunteers to commit to six months of volunteering on a regular schedule. This requirement helps us ensure quality training and consistent volunteer coverage. We do allow for vacations and needed days off and can place volunteers on a temporary leave of absence for periods of extended absences.
Exceptions to this are Wildlife Center volunteers who must commit to volunteer through mid-October, the end of our busy season; and Adoption Assistants who must commit to a minimum of one year.
Volunteering with a Job Coach
I am not able to volunteer independently. Can I bring a helper with me when I volunteer?
Yes, you can volunteer with a job coach you choose who can be a friend, family member or professional from a local organization. You and your job coach will work together as a volunteer team to assist care staff with the overall care of DCHS animals including spot cleaning, dish washing, laundry and animal socialization; all of which will help to make each animal’s stay at the shelter more enriching and less stressful. It is the job coach’s responsibility to insure that all DCHS protocols are followed and they are considered your guardian while they are assisting you while at DCHS.
You and your job coach must fill out separate volunteer applications, attend a New Volunteer Orientation together and each pay the $20 administrative/supply fee if you choose to volunteer. You and your job coach must commit to at least one 2-hour shift per week for a minimum of six months. The same job coach must partner with you from week to week. If your job coach must leave before the six months is over, a replacement can take over. The replacement job coach must fill out a DCHS volunteer application, attend the volunteer orientation, pay $20 fee and attend all trainings. You will be required to attend the trainings with your new job coach. We do not allow a job coach to be assisting more than one person at any one time.
Volunteer Shifts & Rescheduling
When are the volunteer shifts?
Each volunteer position may have slightly different volunteer scheduling and shifts. Typically shifts are 2-3 hours depending on role and could be any day of the week.
Volunteers are scheduled a minimum of one shift every week. What happens if I want to go on vacation?
We understand that life can be busy and have made our scheduling process as flexible as we are able. To make scheduling easy to manage, volunteers have a set schedule working the same shift time on the same day of the week. Volunteers manage their own schedules online and we allow for regular vacations and pre-arranged shift adjustments. When removing themselves from the schedule, we ask volunteers to pick up a make-up shift.
Why do you have a $20 volunteer fee?
Our $20 fee helps DCHS as a non-profit cover our non-animal related expenses. It helps to offset the costs involved in our orientation process as well as covering the cost of your volunteer t-shirt, name badge and role-specific training packets. Financial hardship scholarships are available.
I don’t have a computer or email. Why can't I volunteer without an email account?
DCHS has almost 900 active volunteers. The most cost-effective way for us to communicate with volunteer applicants and our current volunteers is with online services and email. Using email and online scheduling saves money on postage and printing costs and helps to keep our program viable and efficient. For this reason, we require that all volunteers have online access and a current email address. The only exception to this is youth volunteering with an adult; only the adult is required to have an email in this situation.
Community Service Hours
Do you accept court-ordered community service hours?
We do not accept court-ordered community service volunteers. We are not able to sign off on court-ordered service hours through our regular volunteer program.
Do you have short-term or summer volunteer positions available?
Due to limited resources and the required training for each volunteer position, we are not able to offer short-term volunteering experiences.
I have a group that is interested in volunteering. What do you have available for group volunteering?
We have limited opportunities for group volunteer projects at the shelter but there are many other ways that groups can assist us.
I just want to walk the dogs. Why does that require so much training?
Walking the dogs actually involves more than just walking the dogs. We want to make sure the animals consistently receive a high-quality level of care and stay as healthy as possible. To do this, we need to teach volunteers about safety procedures and protocols that are currently in place to limit the transfer of disease within our shelters. We also want to educate our volunteers on how to correctly interact with our shelter animals in order to reduce stress on the animals and keep volunteers safe as they handle dogs that require varying levels of handling skills.
All volunteers attend the specific training required for their volunteer role. Volunteer training includes the duties required for the role, safety procedures and protocols required and animal handling.
I’m an avid runner. Can I take DCHS dogs out for a run during my volunteer shift?
As with people, dogs need to slowly build up muscle strength and endurance in order to avoid potential injury when running or jogging. The dogs on our adoption floor have not had the training needed to prevent injury or to build the endurance to sustain them on runs. To avoid injury, we do not allow running or jogging.
If I am fostering, do I get to choose the foster animals I bring home?
Communications about animals that are available for foster go out via email to all current foster volunteers from the Foster Coordinator. These animals are placed into homes on a first-come, first-served basis. Foster volunteers are never expected to take an animal that is not a good fit for their home or family.
What if I only want to work special events?
You may choose to volunteer only for special events. You will still need to complete an application and attend an orientation. You would then be placed on a list and contacted via email each time there is a need for Special Event volunteers.
Contact our Volunteer Team with any additional questions.