Whether you’re a pet owner, one of our amazing pet sitters, or someone who just loves being around animals, volunteering your time to help pet rescue and aid organizations is a great way to make a positive impact in your community while helping animals in need. Here at Hot Diggity! we have many favorite PDX metro area pet non-profits. They do a lot of hard work caring for pets in-need and offer a helping hand in various forms. We’ve put together this list in hopes you find an opportunity that will fit you perfectly!
- Do you like walking dogs and showing them love? Organizations such as the Pixie Project are often looking for dog walkers to help their pups get in all their exercise and socialization time. If you enjoy being up early and have free time in your mornings you might also be perfectly suited to volunteering as a kennel helper. Kennel volunteers help give dogs potty breaks in addition to helping make treats and keeping the dogs’ temporary homes clean. Family Dogs New Life Shelter, Animal Aid, and the Oregon Humane Society have a need for these volunteers. Your local county shelter such as the Bonnie L. Hays Animal Shelter in Washington County or Multnomah County Animal Services likely also offer similar opportunities.
- Do you love spending time with cats? Cats also need quality socialization time and help keeping their temporary homes clean–duties can include grooming or help with feeding. Cats have a difficult time transitioning from shelter life to a new home, and may have spent a large portion of their lives without much human affection. Volunteering your time to socialize them and show them love can greatly increase their chances of ha
- ving an easier adjustment to their new home. The Pixie Project offers cat socialization volunteer opportunities as do Animal Aid*, the Oregon Humane Society, MultiCo Pets, and the Bonnie L. Hays Animal Shelter.
- *If you love animals but have a difficult time seeing them in kennels and cages even at a shelter, Animal Aid might provide the best alternative to that model for you. Almost all of their cats at their shelter are homed in a group setting with lots of comfy chairs and cat palaces where they like to nap and play freely. It’s a very comfortable place for the cats and has a much more relaxed atmosphere than most shelters are able to offer.
- Do you have a heart of gold and a home in need of a pet? If you have extra room in your home (and a safe backyard with a fence, even better!), almost every organization is in need of foster homes for pets. This is the best way for organizations and volunteers to really get to know the pets that come to them in need of new homes and acclimate them to home life before finding their furever homes. Many animals rescued by these organizations come from states without great resources and have lived for years in either abusive situations or shelter kennels. Through fostering, these pets can relax, learn what it’s like to have a lap all to themselves, and adjust to a home life more easily, lessening the risk of being returned to the rescue organization. There are foster opportunities available from Deaf Dogs of Oregon, the Pixie Project, Family Dogs New Life Shelter, Animal Aid, One Tail at a Time, Oregon Friends of Shelter Animals, the Oregon Humane Society, as well as at the Bonnie L. Hays Animal Shelter, MultiCo Pets Shelter, and many more.
- Do you have a car? Consider volunteering to provide pet transportation! That’s what we do! Since 2017, Hot Diggity! has partnered with The PAW Team to provide them with our Pet Taxi services when they’re unable to find volunteers. We help transport pets from low-income families who don’t have transportation on their own to get them to clinics for surgeries and then back home again. You can do it too! The PAW Team is an excellent place to volunteer this service to, or other organizations often need help transporting animals to and from adoption events or to pick up donations. Besides the PAW Team, there are transportation volunteer opportunities through the Pixie Project, Project POOCH, and One Tail at a Time.
- Are you good at photography? The first impression potential adopters have of their soon-to-be new pet is usually a picture of them. Good pictures of pets greatly increase the chances that they’ll find a home, so shelters and rescue organizations are often looking for photographers to help make their in need pets give the best first impression possible! Even non-rescue organizations such as the PAW Team are in need of photography volunteers who can help share the stories of their clients in the best possible light too. Other organizations looking for photography volunteers include Animal Aid, and it’s likely that other organizations that don’t advertise such a position specifically would also appreciate the offer of a photoshoot.
- Do you love social media or are you into marketing? This is also an in-need skill set at many pet rescue organizations. Social media and other forms of marketing are key to getting the message out about donation drives, available pets, or fundraising events. This is also a great way to volunteer for someone who loves pets, but might actually be allergic to them. Project POOCH, Animal Aid, and One Tail at a Time are some of the organizations that would appreciate the help in spreading the word about their causes.
- Do you have veterinary credentials? The PAW Team is always looking for more people to help out at their clinics where they provide veterinary care for low income families with pets.
- There are many more opportunities! Organizations such as the Feral Cat Coalition of Oregon, the PAW Team, Project POOCH, Oregon Friends of Shelter Animals, Animal Aid, Born Again Pit Bull Rescue, One Tail at a Time, and the Oregon Humane Society as well as your local shelters all have volunteer opportunities for people who want to help out at major events or help with other work such as animal intake, client intake, other office work, interviewing/storytelling, distributing supplies, building and landscape maintenance, animal training, grooming, and so much more! Really, there is something for everyone.
Before you do volunteer however, there are some important considerations you should think about before submitting your application or ask about opportunities available.
- For many of these positions, some training is required. This takes time and money on the part of the shelter organization, so you should be prepared to make at least a 3 month or longer commitment. Be sure to read an organization’s volunteering requirements carefully.
- There are different age requirements at different organizations. Some organizations require that volunteers be at least 16 years old, while others allow younger volunteers with adult supervision, and some organizations require that volunteers be at least 21 years old. Check with the organization for their specific requirements.
- Remember that sometimes you might be around ill animals with communicable diseases. You should carefully wash your hands when you go to a shelter, and wash when leaving, especially if you have pets at home. That might not be quite enough though, so make sure your pets are vaccinated against diseases and pests that you might accidentally take home with you.
- Make sure to keep up your self-care. Volunteering with animal rescue organizations can be very rewarding work, but it can also be exhausting work, both physically and emotionally. Keep hydrated, listen to your emotions and body, don’t overextend yourself, and keep in touch with your support network. This is just good practice for life even if you’re not volunteering, but it can also be important to avoid burnout.
And especially remember to always have fun!
Many of these opportunities can also provide you with professional experience, professional references for young job hunters, emotional comfort for someone who can’t have pets themselves, an opportunity to socialize with other human pet lovers, new friends, as well as good ole’ fresh air and exercise. But spending time with animals is always a great reward in itself, and seeing shy shelter pets become loving and happy pets with loving homes is one of the greatest rewards in the world.