Essential Volunteer Capabilities

Volunteering to help animals is extremely rewarding, but can also present some challenges. Below are the essential abilities a volunteer needs in order to safely participate in the volunteer program.

Physical Capabilities

  • Ability to see clearly -  to move safely throughout the building, distinguish animal body language and read instructions and signage.
  • Ability to hear well - to hear instructions, and warnings such as growling or hissing.
  • Ability to effectively communicate
  • Ability to travel unaided on varied surfaces.
  • Ability to cope with a loud environment due to animal noises.
  • Ability to work in the presence of potential allergens including peanut butter, cat, dog and small animal dander as well as cleaning chemicals.

Additional Physical Capabilities for all positions working directly with animals

  • Ability to stand and/or walk for significant periods of time
  • Ability to bend and squat in order to leash/harness, and/or pick an animal  
  • Ability to use a step stool if needed to reach cages or supplies.
  • Quick reflexes and ability to safely open a cage door while handling an animal.
  • High level of manual dexterity to leash/harness animals.

Cognitive Abilities

  • Ability to understand, remember and follow both verbal and written instructions and procedures.
  • Basic reading, writing and communication skills.
  • Ability to recognize potentially hazardous situations.
  • Ability, once trained, to work independently with minimal supervision.
  • Ability to understand and safeguard against the risk of exposure to zoonotic diseases as ringworm, or animal bites or scratches.
  • If lacking the ability to work independently, must be able to work alongside a trained job coach in an appropriate job, as determined by the volunteer department. Opportunities for people who need to work with a job coach are limited in both scope and number and will not be working directly with animals.

Emotional Abilities

  • Ability to understand constructive criticism.
  • Ability to remain calm and maintain a positive attitude.
  • Ability to cope in a highly emotionally charged environment and with euthanasia decisions.