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Volunteer Movement

Volunteer Movement

What to consider when working with animal rescues.

DeKalb County Animal Shelter, managed by LifeLine Animal Project.
Nick Hemenway, director of volunteer services and events for LifeLine Animal Project.
Nick Hemenway, director of volunteer services and events for LifeLine Animal Project.

Volunteering at an animal shelter or welfare group is rewarding all around, both for you and for the furry friends you will meet. According to WebMD, just petting a dog can help stabilize your blood pressure. Even if you don’t have a lot of spare time to volunteer at one of these facilities, a little can go a long way in helping adoptable animals and, in turn, improving your own quality of life.

“Volunteering with an animal shelter is a great way to support your local community, help animals find homes and keep pets with their families,” says Nick Hemenway, director of volunteer services and events for LifeLine Animal Project, which manages the Fulton and DeKalb County Animal shelters on the westside and in Chamblee.

Here he shares some things to consider when thinking about volunteering.

Volunteer Qualities

Are you compassionate, resourceful, open-minded and eager to help? Then you’d be a natural volunteer, Hemenway says. Consider what you’re best at and would most enjoy doing at an animal shelter.

Two adoptable cats

Flexibility with Your Schedule

Also consider what you’re able to commit to. Many animal shelters and rescue groups offer several ways, some even virtually, to contribute depending on your schedule. For instance, organizations might need help promoting events within volunteers’ networks and neighborhoods, writing online bios to get pets adopted, taking animals out for day trips or overnights or fostering. Hemenway says every little bit helps.

Guides to Help Navigate the Process

Hemenway notes another concern might be unfamiliarity with a facility and its processes. However, most organizations offer thorough training to get you to your comfort level. At LifeLine, we guide you through the essentials of our organization and the animal welfare industry, and show you how to safely interact with dogs and cats,” he says. “We also have an amazing team of staff and experienced volunteers who will help guide newer volunteers through the process.”

Other Considerations

Volunteering in animal care isn’t always pleasant or easy because it’s hard to see so many animals in need of loving homes, says Hemenway. “Some days can be filled with joyful moments, and others can be difficult and sad. However, I know our volunteers would agree that the good days and experiences definitely outnumber the bad, especially knowing that you are making a difference. Even walking just one dog makes all the difference for that one pet.”

If you want to volunteer for the long-term, avoid the urge to adopt a pet on your first day until you settle in. Multiple opportunities will pop up for you to take home a fur baby, so take your time and get used to your volunteer role first.


STORY: Chelsie Butler

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