Whether they spend time walking dogs, fostering animals, cleaning, fundraising, or helping with adoptions, volunteers are the ones who make the path shorter and easier for pets looking for their forever homes.
In just the past 10 months volunteers have worked about 7,500 total hours, or about 25 hours per day, every day of 2021. And that doesn’t include all the time that fosters spent caring for animals. So far this year 531 animals have each spent an average of 51 days in one of 254 foster homes.
Steph Renaud, the Shelter’s Volunteer and Foster Care Coordinator, said that volunteers are critical in the adoption process, especially for animals in foster care.
“Behind the scenes there are dozens of people working to help our animals, including our fosters. They are rock stars,” said Renaud. “They make it that much easier for the animals to be adopted because they are less stressed, more relaxed, and better socialized. They get extra love and enrichment by playing and engaging with people.”
Foster parents care for animals in their homes until they are adopted. They also help potential adopters meet and learn more about their foster animal so they can decide if it’s a good match. Some fosters have cared for dozens of animals over many years and others are brand new. Still others have special animal care skills.
“There are some special fosters who are well equipped to care for ‘bottle babies,’ very young puppies and kittens without their moms who must be fed every two to three hours for weeks,” said Renaud. “They have to be in foster care because staff are not available 24 hours a day. Other fosters specialize in animals with special medical or behavioral needs.”
Other than fostering animals, volunteers also provide two walks a day for every dog at the Shelter, as well as behavior training, extra love, and enrichment through playing and engaging with people.
“We really couldn’t do what we do without the many dedicated volunteers. Staff take care of the basics and make sure the animals are safe and fed, but the volunteers make sure their lives are as good as they can be,” said Renaud.
The Shelter welcomes those interested in providing foster care, especially those who want to learn and practice behavior training for dogs. And there are many others way to get involved.
- Dog walkers get in-shelter dogs out through the neighborhood twice daily
- The Get Fit with Fido Team takes high-energy dogs out for runs three times per week
- The Sunday Morning Outings Team takes some dogs out for extended weekly field trips to the park
- The Dog Behavior Team conducts behavior modification training with more challenging dogs
- Shelter Helpers do laundry, wash dishes, keep our supplies organized, and prep enrichment treats for the animals
- 9 Lives, the Shy Cat Team, and the Critter Team provide cuddles, play, and enrichment for our in-shelter cats and critters
- Team leads help with communication, scheduling, training, support, answering questions, and so much more. Our foster leads and support teams match available foster homes to our animals, coordinate pick-ups, answer questions, and provide support to foster parents, help write about and take photos of the animals for the website, coordinate and schedule potential adopters, and schedule and train new foster parents.
- The Pet Loss Support Group has trained volunteer facilitators who help those grieving their beloved pets
- Gardening volunteers plant, water, weed, and maintain our Interbay P-Patch plot, growing vegetables and herbs for our animals to eat and explore
- Pet Food Bank volunteers make appointments for those who need help and distribute food
- Support and administrative volunteers help orient new volunteers, keep our kitten and puppy kits stocked and ready, deliver donations, and complete many other behind-the-scenes projects
- The Cat Follow-up Team contacts every cat adopter to see how things are going and if they have any questions or need help
- Fosters provide comfortable homes away from the stress of the shelter, food, playtime, enrichment, medication, and love for our animals.
If you’d like to make a difference in the new year, consider volunteering at the Seattle Animal Shelter. Find out more.