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Volunteer and Foster

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Become a Volunteer

Thank you very much for your interest in volunteering with WHS! 

The Washington Humane Society (WHS), the only Congressionally-chartered animal welfare agency in the United States, has been the area’s leading voice for animals since 1870. As the open-access shelter in the Nation’s Capital, the Washington Humane Society provides comfort and care to over 43,000 animals each year through its broad range of programs and services. No animal is ever turned away and no call for help goes unanswered, making our need for volunteer help that much greater.

Click here to complete a WHS Volunteer Application. Your application will be reviewed and, depending on your interests and availability and the current needs of the Washington Humane Society, you will be invited to attend a volunteer orientation. Please note it can take several weeks for your application to be reviewed! Please be patient.

Please note, to work in either of our Adoption Centers we ask volunteers to commit to working a minimum of two shifts per month for a period of six months. Those interested will be invited to attend an interview prior to scheduling a shift. In addition, please review our ‘Essential Capabilities for WHS Adoption Center Volunteers’ document. We ask all volunteer sign this document prior to volunteering at one of our adoption facilities

If you are interested in becoming a foster volunteer, please click here for more information!

Here’s how you can immediately help the Washington Humane Society:

 

How You Can Help

Volunteer Process Overview

Volunteer Job Descriptions

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How You Can Help

Here’s how you can make a difference with your time and your talents:

  • Assist our busy caregivers by providing exercise, enrichment, basic care and socialization for our dogs, cats or small animals at either of our two adoption centers. Please review our ‘Essential Capabilities for WHS Adoption Center Volunteers’ document. We ask all volunteer sign this document prior to volunteering at one of our adoption facilities.
     
  • Become a member of our Behavior, Training and Socialization (BTS) Team and provide exercise, behavior training and enrichment for our dogs and cats. Well behaved animals have a much better chance at getting adopted. Please review our ‘Essential Capabilities for WHS Adoption Center Volunteers’ document. We ask all volunteer sign this document prior to volunteering at one of our adoption facilities.
     
  • Volunteer at Adoption Outreach Events with our mobile adoption center, Adopt Force One.  Travel to different local events with adoptable animals and talk to the public about adopting their new best friend.
     
  • Special Event Volunteers make our fundraising events successful.  Help plan and execute large to small fundraising events, designed to raise much needed funds for our animals.  
     
  • CatNiPP volunteers work to lower the feral cat population by humanely trapping feral cats for spay/neuter surgeries and vaccinations and returning sterilized cats to their neighborhood colony.
     
  • Participating in our PACK program gets our shelter dogs out for a Saturday morning walk or run.
     
  • FLYERS - Distributing our adoptable Pet of the Week, wildlife, and other promotional flyers ensures that everyone at your office, in your neighborhood, and in your part of the world knows about our animals.
     
  • Add to your current repertoire of animal handling experience by volunteering at our Spay & Neuter Center and help with vaccination clinics and patient discharges.
     
  • Fostering an animal helps alleviate overcrowding at the shelter and provides a temporary and safe refuge in your home for an animal in search of his or her forever home. 
     
  • Collect much needed donations of toys, leashes, peanut butter, applesauce or gently used linens. See our wishlist here
     
  • Join the Missing Animal Response Team (M.A.R.T.), a newtask force dedicated to helping find lost or missing WHS animals.
     
  • Assist our busy development office with mailings, data entry, and other office tasks.

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Volunteer Process Overview

Volunteers must first complete a volunteer application

Once you’ve completed your application it will be reviewed and, depending on your interests and availability and the current needs of the Washington Humane Society, you will be invited to attend a volunteer orientation where you’ll learn more about WHS’s mission and the available volunteer opportunities. Please note it can take several weeks for your application to be reviewed! Please be patient.

After orientation, you’ll be able to start volunteering at events, in the National Capital Area Spay & Neuter Center, and at our administrative office, adoptions outreach, or with CatNiPP.

If you’d like to volunteer in the adoption centers, we ask that you attend a new volunteer shift to learn your way around. After your new volunteer shift, you’ll be able to begin your shelter star hours.

Shelter Stars are our utility players! As a shelter star, you'll shadow an animal caregiver and work at the front desk, clean, interact with animals, and help us keep everything running smothly.

After you’ve done your shelter star hours, you can sign up for new responsibilities, including our Behavior, Training, and Socialization program.


*Please note, to volunteer through our general program, you must be 18 years of age or older. For volunteers under the age of 18, please click here for more information or contact Humane Education Program Manager Shakela Brown at sbrown@washhumane.org. 

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Volunteer Job Descriptions

Adoption Center Opportunities

Please note, to work in either of our Adoption Centers we ask volunteers to commit to working a minimum of two shifts per month for a period of six months. Those interested will be invited to attend an interview prior to scheduling a shift.  

Shelter Star:  Shelter Stars help make our Adoption Centers sparkle. After completing a new volunteer shift, Shelter Stars help with animal socialization, laundry; washing and drying dishes and bowls; preparing Kong treats and other enrichment toys; sweeping and mopping; and help keep the shelter clean. Shelter Stars are our utility volunteers and help with a little bit of everything!

Behavior, Training and Socialization (BTS)*: Volunteers who commit to a scheduled shift with the behavior department once a week will learn how to work with the shelter animals to provide socialization, enrichment, training, and other special activities. The Behavior Shift volunteers will have access to a group discussion forum, regular training seminars, and workshops held by the behavior department. 

Transport Volunteers: Transport Volunteers drive animals to DC metro area shelters or sanctuaries as well as media appointments. Volunteers must have their own car and should carry insurance. Volunteers should be acquainted with proper animal transport methods.

Volunteer Mentors: Volunteer Mentors provide training and direction with our animals at both adoption centers. Volunteer Mentors should be able to provide clear instruction and exhibit a willingness to train others. Volunteer Mentors should be at the Specialist level.

Fostering:  Volunteers can alleviate overcrowding in our shelters by fostering animals in their home on short-term basis. Training and information will be provided; no experience necessary. Click here to learn more about fostering or to fill out an application.

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Off–Site Opportunities

Spay and Neuter Clinic:  Volunteers help with Vaccination Clinics, patient discharges, or in the Surgery Suite. Previous animal handling experience is requested.

CatNiPP: Volunteers help control the feral cat population by humanely trapping cats for spay/neuter surgery and vaccinations and returning cats to their neighborhood colony.

PACK (People and Animal Cardio Klub)*: Volunteers walk or run with a shelter dog at an off-site location, usually Rock Creek Park or the National Mall, on Saturday mornings. Small fee is requested to join this program.

Adoption Outreach Events*: Volunteers assist at adoption events by preparing our mobile adoption vehicle (Adopt Force One) and assisting our staff at adoption events. Volunteers must have some animal handling experience and should be comfortable talking to the public about WHS and our animals.

Special Events Volunteers: Special Event volunteers assist at our fundraising events throughout the year including Bark Ball, Fashion for Paws, Sugar & Champagne, and the DC Walk for the Animals.

Administrative Volunteers: Volunteers at our MacArthur Boulevard NW office help with mailings, data entry, and other office tasks.

*Volunteers will be given additional training before beginning these assignments.

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