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Local Living Magazine

Volunteer – How to choose the right Local Animal Rescue Shelter

Every year it is estimated that 6-8 million dogs and cats are cared for in area shelters in the United States.  An even more disturbing number is that 3-4 million dogs and cats are euthanized due to no room, low adoption numbers, sickness or deemed unadoptable. Most non-profit Shelters are funded through donations, grants and fundraising.  The money goes to the care of the animals and medical expenses. Many of the shelters have a paid staff, but they look for Volunteers to dedicate their time to assist in daily maintenance and care.

When choosing an animal shelter to volunteer, take the time to do some research online.  Ask yourself a few questions: Is the shelter within driving distance? What are the job responsibilities for a volunteer?  How old do you have to be to volunteer? What is their mission statement? Are they a kill or no-kill shelter? What types of animals do they rescue? Remember rescue shelters can have Dogs, Cats, Snakes, Turtles, Rabbits, Hamsters, Birds, Guinea Pigs and sometimes Horses\!  All of these questions can help guide you to pick the right shelter.

Rescue shelters can use volunteers in all aspects of their operations.  From animal care, socialization, cleaning kennels, facility and ground maintenance to clerical and office work.  Most shelters operate with skeletal staff and volunteers are their treasure. Many people volunteer because they have a love for animals.  Of those volunteers, some hold a variety of responsibilities throughout the organization.

Once you pick a rescue shelter, visit and interview them to inquire about their operation.  How many animals do they adopt a year? Do they have a volunteer orientation? Do they require a minimum number of hours for volunteers?  Talk with other volunteers and get feedback from them on their experiences with staff and overall operation.

Volunteering at an Animal Shelter can be very rewarding. Taking an animal out of its cage for a walk outside, to a social event, or to sit in the hospitality room and play, releases the animal from their stressful environment.  Whether it’s volunteering for 2 hours or an entire day, you can help these animals with their social skills, training, and provide them with extra love and care. Besides, you never know who you will meet in the lobby or outside of the shelter with your animal, it could be a potential adopter.  The more socialization the animals have at the shelters with various people the more adapt they will be in their new home.

I personally volunteer at a few local shelters in my area.  I always look forward to getting out and volunteering and it’s always nice to be greeted by a wagging tail.  I have cried tears of joy when I’ve seen the dog that I have worked with, get adopted. I have laughed from observing the goofiness a dog or cat can display when at play.  I have also sobbed when I have seen a dog and cat live its life in the shelter and pass away without ever being adopted. But, I am happy I can dedicate my time and share that experience not only with the animals, but with other volunteers.  

By: Carla Papciak- Glatts

Rescue Shelters in the area:

Bucks County: (2 locations)

Bucks County SPCA, Lahaska, PA 215-794-7425

Upper Bucks County SPCA, Quakertown, PA 267-347-4674

Lehigh County:

Lehigh County Humane Society: 610-797-1205

The Center for Animal Health and Welfare, Easton, PA –610-252-7722

Montgomery County: (3 locations)

Montgomery County SPCA – Perkiomenville, PA – 610-754-7822

Montgomery County SPCA – Conshohocken, PA – 610-825-0111

Montgomery County SPCA – Abington, PA – 610-825-0111


Pennsylvania SPCA – 215-426-6300

ACCT of Philadelphia– 267-385-3800-