Become a Volunteer
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 nearly 30,000 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.
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.
- 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.
- 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
- 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.
Want to volunteer with WHS? Click here to fill out an
online volunteer application.
Once you’ve completed your application, you’ll sign up for a volunteer orientation where you’ll learn more about WHS’s mission and the available volunteer opportunities.
If you’d like to volunteer in the adoption centers, we ask that you attend on-site training to learn your way around. After on-site training, you’ll be eligible to begin your shelter star hours.
Shelter Stars help make our Adoption Centers sparkle by helping with laundry; washing and drying dishes and bowls; preparing Kong treats and other enrichment toys; sweeping and mopping; and helping keep the shelter clean. Volunteers must complete six (6) hours of service before moving up to the specialist level.
After you’ve done your shelter star hours, you can sign up for new responsibilities, including our specialist programs working with our dogs, cats, and small animals.
7319 Georgia Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20012
** 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Adoption Center Opportunities
Shelter Star: Shelter Stars help make our Adoption Centers sparkle. After completing on-site orientation, Shelter Stars help with laundry; wash and dry dishes and bowls; prepare Kong treats and other enrichment toys; sweep and mop; and help keep the shelter clean. Volunteers must complete six (6) hours of service before moving up to the specialist level.
Dog Specialist*: Dog Specialists walk and socialize our dogs. Volunteers learn to use harnesses, head collars and other equipment, work on good doggie manners, and proper leash walking. Dog Specialists also learn ‘click for quiet’ training. Dog Specialists can also help get dogs out for Play Groups and socialization. Dog Specialists must complete 16 hours of service before moving on to the dog Behavior, Training and Socialization Team. Dog Specialists also mentor new volunteers.
Cat Specialist*: Cat Specialists socialize, cuddle, help clean cat cages, and make cat enrichment toys. Volunteers can also learn clicker training for cats. Cat Specialists must complete 16 hours of service before moving on to the Cat Behavior and Training team and may also mentor new volunteers.
Small Animal Specialist*: Small Animal Specialists work closely with our bunnies and guinea pigs. Small Animal Specialists socialize animals and help to keep cages clean. Small Animal Specialists can learn to clicker train small animals and make enrichment toys. Small Animal Specialists must complete 16 hours of service before moving on to our Behavior Team. Small Animal Specialists mentor new volunteers.
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.
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.