Animal Welfare Charities

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If you’re an animal lover with a lot of love to give, then why not support an animal charity? Whether you’re a cat, dog or bird lover (or something else entirely) there are plenty of ways you can play a key role in transforming an animal’s life.

By getting involved with an animal charity, you can enjoy the perks of being around animals such as regular walking and cuddles without having to worry about long term commitment. Why not be a ‘puppy walker’ for a guide dog in training, or ‘foster’ a pet awaiting a permanent home? Or maybe you would prefer to fundraise for an animal charity of your choice, by asking people to sponsor you to complete a personal challenge.

There may also be opportunities to go and take part in animal protection and preservation programmes abroad. For example, The Born Free Foundation offer volunteering opportunities with animals including chimps and elephants in countries such as Zambia and Malawi.

There are so many ways you can help – just have a look at some of the possibilities below.

What sort of roles are available?

Animal Foster Carer

By fostering an animal, you are agreeing to love and care for them temporarily to improve their quality of life. An animal will live with you whilst they await permanent rehoming to minimise their stay in an animal shelter. You should be prepared that sometimes animals who have been rescued from abuse or neglect may have behavioural issues, but the shelter responsible for the animal can provide advice and training on how to care for them. There’s also no need to worry about what fostering will cost you, as things like food and vets bills are usually taken care of by the respective animal charity.

It is usually a mid to long term commitment, as you could be fostering or boarding an animal for an extended period of time whilst a permanent home is found.

It can be highly rewarding, spending quality time with an animal who needs your help. There is often a real tangible sense of satisfaction from seeing the impact you can have on their day to day wellbeing. In fact, one of the most difficult things can be preparing to say goodbye when the charity have managed to find a new, permanent home for an animal that you have cared for. Many people are unwilling to go through this, which is all the more reason why there’s such a need for volunteers who are prepared to love unconditionally, and then let them leave.

If you think you can help show an animal another chance in life, a good starting point would be the charity Blue Cross or Cats Protection which offers many different fostering opportunities.

Puppy Raiser

Through the support of dedicated volunteers, Guide Dogs can begin implementing basic training to their puppies, from just eight weeks old. Puppy raiser volunteers will look after a guide dog puppy for around 15 months, 24/7 within their home.

The puppy raiser role is very important for Guide Dogs to ensure that their dogs are set up for success. It ensures they can be trained to a high enough standard to become a guide dog for people with sight loss. The role involves caring for the puppy’s basic needs, implementing correct training techniques when required, and providing a welcoming home for a future guide dog.

To find out more about the volunteering role and other dog-related volunteering roles at Guide Dogs, you can read our article here or browse their volunteering section below.

Animal Care Volunteer

Animal hospitals and animal shelters need care volunteers to nurture and care for vulnerable animals during their stay. You will also help to support families who are concerned for their sick pet by providing comfort and advice.

If you decide to volunteer as an animal care volunteer for an animal shelter e.g. with the RSPCA, you will be often be responsible for cleaning animal pens and cages, as well as grooming, feeding and playing with a range of animals.

There are also animal specific roles available e.g. volunteering as a cat carer or socialiser in an RSPCA cattery. If you’ve always wanted a cat but your home or lifestyle just isn’t suitable, then this could be the role for you. You will help look after every aspect of the cats’ wellbeing from ensuring they get the right diet to helping them develop socialisation skills, which should help them to be successfully rehomed.

PDSA Pet Hospitals also recruit volunteers to soothe sick and recovering animals, comfort families and help out with reception tasks. Animals can become stressed when they are unwell and away from their families, so as an Animal Care Volunteer, you’ll be responsible for alleviating some of this stress by making sure their environment is clean and comfortable, encouraging them to eat and acting as a companion.

Full training will usually be provided for all roles in this category, and levels of commitment will vary.

Helping Abroad

There are many multiple ways you can support an animal charity when you travel abroad. Most animal charities that offer work abroad are trying to stop endangered wild animals, including tigers and elephants, becoming extinct in the wild as a result of poaching or captivity.

The Born Free Foundation offer work in many African countries where the risk of extinction of some of the world’s animals is extremely high. Most volunteering roles take place in animal sanctuaries and reserves where charities rehabilitate and care for wild animals before releasing them back into the wild. There are also voluntary roles available in areas such as research and education.

Find out about Born Free’s mission

Additional roles supporting animal charities

For more information on supporting animal charities in ‘behind the scenes’ roles, please click through to our, Driving, Charity Shop Work, Office & Admin and Fundraising and pages, or explore the range of charities below.

Or, if you’d to work with animals, but can’t afford to do so on a voluntary basis, then you might want to take a look at the list of paid roles in our article; 12 interesting roles working with animals.

Which charities can I support?

RSPCA, Dog’s Trust, Guide Dogs for the Blind, Worldwide Wildlife Fund, Cats Protection, Battersea Cats and Dogs Home, Donkey Sanctuary, PDSA, Blue Cross, Born Free Foundation

Volunteering in your local community

For local volunteering roles with animal charities, you could speak to your local animal shelters for more information about current vacancies and how to apply.

Why volunteer later in life?

More and more people are finding satisfaction in Volunteering. Find out why you should become a volunteer and the benefits it can bring.

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