The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way volunteers can help in animal shelters and rescues over the past year. Some shelters could not allow volunteers, and some, like Animal Rescue New Orleans, limited the number and tasks they could perform. However, as restrictions ease, shelters and rescues need volunteers more than ever.
At ARNO, an influx of students helped this spring. Now that the semester is over and the students are heading home for the summer, there is a sharp drop in volunteers – but the rescue still needs this help on a daily basis.
In many shelters, high school students have also completed their community service hours for the year. The summer months are also particularly tough because people often go out of their normal routines and animal organizations tend to lose even their regular volunteers.
So, if you are looking to lend a paw to the animals in our region’s shelters this summer, the opportunities are plentiful. Are you a teacher for summer vacation? Retired and at home during the day? Shifts or non-traditional hours? Do you like jogging and need a partner on all fours?
High school students can come and get a boost for their community service hours, and some shelters will allow court-ordered community service hours to be served as a volunteer.
Our shelters and rescues need you. If you’ve ever considered getting involved, now is the time.
Shelters and rescues depend on volunteers to operate on a daily basis. Animals should be fed, walked, socialized, and kennels should be cleaned daily. It is a very enriching experience and it makes a huge difference for these homeless animals.
The tasks and hours of volunteers may also vary. At ARNO, for example, we have volunteer opportunities seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Hours allow volunteers to come in after work evenings, weekends, weekday mornings, afternoons, whatever works.
On site we have dishes, laundry, donation organization, sweeping, mopping, gardening and more, in addition to animal care – feeding, kennel cleaning, dog walkers, cat socialization and more again. Offsite, volunteers are needed to help with fundraisers, bring dogs and cats to adoption events, help with office chores and more.
Volunteers can also help by welcoming animals into their homes and giving them a break from the shelter by taking them for an afternoon to a dog park or for a car ride to have fun. Shelter dogs love to visit pet stores that allow pets and pick out a new toy. Additionally, animal organizations need volunteers to help get animals to and from vet appointments, organize supplies, photograph pets, write biographies and more.
Rescuing animals and caring for animals in shelters is hard work, and animal groups and shelters could not exist without the generous service of volunteers. They are essential helpers for accommodating staff and contributing to the mental health, socialization, and general happiness of the animals that are forever waiting for homes.
Here are a few organizations in the New Orleans metro area that offer volunteer opportunities throughout the year. Check with individual organizations to see what COVID-19 volunteering restrictions may be in place.