Volunteering with Animals

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If you’re an animal lover with a lot of love to give, you might like to considersigning up for some animal volunteer work. 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. For example, you could be a puppy walker for a guide dog in training, or foster a pet awaiting a permanent home.

There may also be local volunteering opportunities in your community – such as helping out with police dogs in training. To find out more about current vacancies in your local area, it’s worth getting in touch with your local police service.

There are also plenty of other ways you can volunteer your time to help animals – just have a look at some of the possibilities below.

Note: If you’re looking to the future and are interested in animal volunteering opportunities abroad, please see our volunteering abroad section.

What sort of animal volunteering roles are available?

Animal fosterer

By fostering an animal, you’re 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.

It’s worth remembering 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.

Fostering is usually a mid to long-term commitment, as you could be caring for an animal for an extended period of time whilst a permanent home is found.

Spending quality time with an animal who needs your help can be highly rewarding. There’s 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 manage 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, which offers many different fostering opportunities.

Puppy walker, socialiser, or raiser

Across the country, there are always puppies training to become working service dogs, for example, guide dogs and police dogs.

The charities or services that the puppies belong to don’t always have the time or resources to walk and/or socialise the puppies, so they recruit volunteers to fill this important role.

You can select your role based on how involved you wish to be. For example, Sometimes a puppy is required to stay with you for a fixed period of time.

Guide Dogs UK have many opportunities like this, which you can browse on the volunteering section of our website. In other cases, it’s as simple as picking up the puppy and walking them on scheduled occasions.

If you’d like to find out more about the volunteering opportunities offered by Guide Dogs UK, then check out our article; volunteering as a puppy raiser for Guide Dogs UK. Or, have a read of Gus’ experience volunteering for Guide Dogs UK.

Animal care volunteer

Animal hospitals and animal shelters need care volunteers to nurture and care for vulnerable animals during their stay.

PDSA Pet Hospitals often recruit volunteers to soothe sick and recovering animals, comfort families, and help out with reception tasks.

Additional roles supporting animal charities and services

For more information on supporting animals in ‘behind the scenes’ roles, please click through to our driving, charity shop work, office support, and fundraising pages – or explore the range of charities below.

Which UK charities can I volunteer for?

Volunteering in your local community

If you’d like to focus your time on supporting a local animal charity within your community, it’s worth speaking to local pet shops, animal shelters and veterinary practices who’ll know how you can help locally and how to apply.

Your local police service may also offer voluntary roles with trainee police dogs. To find out more, it’s worth contacting your local police station to ask about current vacancies.

If you’re interested in volunteering with animals or in other roles, head over to our volunteering homepage where you can search for opportunities near you. Alternatively, you can also find ideas for paid animal jobs in our article; 12 interesting roles working with animals.

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