1. Volunteer training sessions will be scheduled for new volunteers. When you apply to volunteer, you will be sent a schedule of training sessions to choose from and will need to complete a session before you can volunteer on your own at the shelter. You can choose to volunteer with dogs, cats, or both! Orientation for volunteering with dogs will cover topics such as which dogs volunteers can walk versus staff-only dogs, how to leash dogs up, how to safely leave and enter the building with a dog, and reading the dog's apartment card for special instructions or messages, etc. For cats, it will include how to tell a cat's temperament, how to feed the cats, how to clean their litter boxes, responsible playtime in the cat room, and reading the cat's apartment card as well. Some programs may require additional training in order to participate.
2. New volunteers can receive training from an experienced ACC volunteer, or a trained volunteer can bring a guest with them, as long as it is approved by the CARE Shelter Manager in advance. The guest may be required to sign a release form for CARE.
3. If you can’t walk dogs due to a physical or other condition, there are so many different ways to help. Cleaning apartments, washing dishes, and doing laundry, among other things, help free up the CARE staff and other volunteers to work with the dogs or cats. Nothing is more satisfying than seeing a dog or cat leaving a dirty apartment and being brought back to a clean one because of you! They appreciate it a lot.
4. A volunteer calendar will be established so that volunteers can sign up for specific days and approximate times to volunteer. It will help the CARE staff plan for the day and give other volunteers an idea of what will be needed and when. It’s important to update the calendar if you cannot make a planned volunteer shift, but if you find you have extra time and would like to volunteer without signing up on the calendar spontaneously, that’s okay too!
5. If someone out in public is interested in a dog, it is okay to give them the dog’s name and refer them to CARE. Please let the CARE staff handle direct contact between the dog and members of the public. They are the experts and know the dogs better than we do.
6. You will be asked to sign a Volunteer Code of Conduct or other releases that are needed by CARE for you to volunteer.
7. Volunteers at the shelter should accept guidance and instructions from CARE staff. Also, do not hesitate to ask them or an experienced volunteer to help you! We are all working toward the same goal, which is the safety and well-being of our furry friends at the shelter.
8. Long pants and closed shoes are recommended when volunteering directly with dogs at the shelter.
9. CARE has T-shirts for sale to volunteers. If it is within your means, it is encouraged that you wear it when you volunteer, particularly if you are out in public with a dog at an adoption event or doing enrichment with a dog through the CARE Holistic Enrichment and Wellness - CHEW program.
10. Smoking is only allowed in designated outside areas when you are not handling any animals.
11. Taking videos or pictures of the dogs to post later to social media while you are out on walks is encouraged. It is a great way to get exposure for the animals and increases their chance of getting adopted. Pictures or videos inside the shelter are only allowed with the permission of staff – in some cases, animals cannot be photographed due to pending legal matters. Those animals are usually labeled as staff only or are in a designated staff-only area, but if not, staff will let you know if photographs are not allowed.
12. Cell phones should only be used if there is an emergency or if you are stopped to take a video or picture of the dogs and cats to help get them adopted.
13. Volunteers have to be 18 years or older for insurance reasons. However, CARE will be establishing programs for children who are younger, or they can help out at the shelter in other ways besides direct dog handling. Parents of a person younger than 18 years will have to sign a release, but questions regarding how your child under 18 years can volunteer should be sent to CARE staff.
14. The animals may be given treats that are available at the shelter or another treat as long as it is not a dietary supplement or if their apartment sheet indicates no feeding due to surgery, or a special diet. If you have any questions about whether giving a treat to animals are appropriate, please ask a CARE staff. Rawhide treats are not allowed because they can cause choking.
15. Please notify CARE staff immediately for assistance if you experience any kind of accident or injury involving you, an animal, or another person while volunteering at the shelter.
16. In order to ensure safety, CARE staff has the right to release any volunteer for unsafe practices, not following procedures or other behavior that could endanger the dogs, staff or other volunteers.
17.Finally, and most importantly, it is essential that you LOVE the puppies and kitties at CARE that you are working with and that you experience FUN and FULFILLMENT in being generous with your time and serving such an important need in the community. CARE staff, your fellow volunteers, and the kitties and puppies in their care appreciate and thank YOU!