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Working With Animals

By: Leigh Sexton - Updated: 22 Apr 2017 | comments*Discuss
 
Animal Volunteer Animals Wildlife

Volunteering with animals is one of the most popular volunteer choices and for many people it is a real vocation to give up some of their time to work with or for an animal charity or organisation. It’s a rewarding task which has a wide range of opportunities such as:

  • dog walking, socialisation and kennel cleaning with a dogs’ home or rescue trust.
  • assisting veterinarians and other specialists in looking after injured wildlife.
  • volunteering at a local community or city farm.
  • monitoring, surveying and improving habitats for local wildlife.
  • working with feral cats and on cat rehoming.
  • helping out at a local zoo, wildlife park or animal sanctuary.
  • fundraising for a local shelter or sanctuary.

Commitment And Care

It’s quite common for people to think they want to work with animals but discover, quite quickly, that they struggle to maintain the level of detachment required when working with sick or injured animals or those that have been subject to cruelty or neglect. It takes a special kind of person, compassionate without ‘taking home’ the emotions of the workplace, to cope with the sharp end of animal volunteering. If you find that actually working with animals is not for you, don’t be discouraged, consider how you can distance yourself a little from the emotional load and still assist the animals you are so concerned about. For example you could fund-raise or give talks in local schools or businesses to raise awareness of the issue. Many animal related charities also require event organisers, photographers and people to help with administration and publicity.

If you do find you can work directly with animals, you will find that at times it can mean a lot hard, physical work which can be seasonal. For example, wildlife sanctuaries and bird charities find that they are inundated with injured or supposedly abandoned fledgling birds in spring, but have little to do in winter. Alternatively, the period soon after Christmas can be demanding in cat and dog shelters when pets bought for Christmas presents are abandoned or handed in by those who realise they cannot cope with the commitment.

Training And Skills

Whilst few animal charities require specific skills of their general volunteers, most will expect you to have some key attributes that make it easier for you to work with animals. These are:

  • Being comfortable around animals.
  • Able to recognise when an animal is uncomfortable or unwell and seek specialist help.
  • Relaxed in situations of stress or pressure.
  • Patience – more than anything else, working with animals means not have a time-table because animals don’t function to deadlines!
  • Gap Year And Overseas Animal Volunteering

    Working with animals in your gap year or taking a career break to do something animal-related is very popular, and while some charities ask for evidence that you’ve volunteered with animals before, others simply take your word for it that you will be able to cope with animal behaviour once you get to your destination.

    It’s a very good idea to try and volunteer with animals before travelling to a strange place to serve as a volunteer, especially if you’re going to be expected to work with large animals. Some people find it extremely daunting to be exposed to wild animals much bigger than anything they are used to at home, while others find the cultural norms of other peoples when dealing with animals to be disturbing and difficult to accept. This can make an intensive animal-based voluntary project highly challenging to the unprepared volunteer.

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    [Add a Comment]
    I am 13 I love animals and I love helping I was also wondering if I was too young but I would really love this opportunity thank you
    Habs - 22-Apr-17 @ 6:54 PM
    Hi, i'm 13 and love animals, i've been looking on a lot of websites who hire volunteers to work with animals under 16 but i can't find any, was wondering if anyone could help thanks
    Abi - 15-Apr-17 @ 10:52 PM
    Yes i will like to do volunteer working with the animal's
    Joshua - 8-Apr-17 @ 11:21 PM
    Hi I love animals and find a dog to be human best friend .
    Bazi - 11-Mar-17 @ 7:33 AM
    Hi I want to volunteer to work with animals,I love animals and have a lot of love and compassion to give,I work hard and I feel this is right for me and would get a lot of satisfaction from helping.
    Ny - 3-Mar-17 @ 9:10 PM
    Hi I'm a mum of 3 which are all at school and I'd love to be a volunteer of some sort I have a Dog ( I have a blind Labrador who is10 1/2 years old and a cat which is 18 years old ) so Colchester would be fantastic and in school hours . Thank you x
    Laura - 17-Feb-17 @ 6:58 PM
    hi I am 14 and I live in Nottingham and been wanting to do voluntary work with dogs I really love dogs I have two of my own and I take them on walks at the weekend and I love doing it. :)
    kk - 30-Dec-16 @ 7:51 PM
    lola - Your Question:
    Hi I am lola I have just turned 14 I live in Bradford,england and I have been interested in doing volunteering for a while now.But I have been struggling to find the right thing to do but I really want to volunteer in a hospital.And I have to be older to do that so I have been looking at animals and that's not much help either all of it is just working in charity shops. I don't want to do that so could you please contact me to give advice thank you.

    Our Response:
    There aren't many orgnisations that are prepared to take under 16 year old volunteers. Here is a link to the Duke of Edinburgh ideas list for volunteers, some of these may be more relevant to people of your age.
    VoluntaryWorker - 22-Nov-16 @ 11:45 AM
    Hi I am lola I have just turned 14 i live in Bradford,england and I have been interested in doing volunteering for a while now.But I have been struggling to find the right thing to do but I really want to volunteer in a hospital.And I have to be older to do that so I have been looking at animals and that's not much help either all of it is just working in charity shops. I don't want to do that so could you please contact me to give advice thank you .
    lola - 21-Nov-16 @ 5:50 PM
    Hi! I'm 13 years old and I really love animals therefore I would like to work with animals as a volunteer. I have a lot of experience with cats and kittens as I had a cat for 4 years and a kitten for 1 year, although I don't have much experience with dogs. Since I'm 13 it's really hard for me to find voluntary work in animal shelters. I live in Mississauga, Canada. I'm struggling to find somewhere to volunteer near where I live and somewhere that I can volunteer working around my school hours, so ideally at the weekend, could you suggest anywhere that would be good for me and a link to the website? I would really appreciate it, thank you
    Ariana<3 - 11-Nov-16 @ 2:00 AM
    Millie - Your Question:
    It is my dream to work with animals and I believe that there are ways to deal with the emotion of a seeing them hurt. I am very passionate about animals and have cats and dogs of my own. I am relaxed in an animals company and deal with them well. I have been looking for voluntary work for a while now but as I am 13 there aren't many jobs available for me that will allow me to work directly with animals.

    Our Response:
    No that's true, many organisations which take on volunteers will only take those over 16. You could try asking neighbours and friends if they'd like some help with the pets in the meantime?
    VoluntaryWorker - 22-Aug-16 @ 11:56 AM
    It is my dream to work with animals and i believe that there are ways to deal with the emotion of a seeing them hurt. I am very passionate about animals and have cats and dogs of my own. I am relaxed in an animals company and deal with them well. I have been looking for voluntary work for a while now but as i am 13 there aren't many jobs available for me that will allow me to work directly with animals.
    Millie - 21-Aug-16 @ 9:31 AM
    hello, my name is Britney and I'm 18 years old. I love animals, although I don't have any professional experience. I'd love to get some. Are there any volunteer centres I can go by to help out. I live in the Blackburn area. Thank you.
    britney - 31-Jan-16 @ 7:28 PM
    Hi, my names shaley. I'm 14 years old, and I'm interested in working with animals? Recently I've moved from Barnsley South Yorkshire to my dads in Chafford hundred Essex. I'm wanting to know if there's any places that will take me for a while. Some where I can work around school hours. Right now I'm not in school because my dad hasn't managed to find me a placement yet. Does anyone know of anywhere I can go just to get me out the house a few days a week?
    Shay - 21-Jan-16 @ 10:41 PM
    Hello I'm Millie from Colchester essex I'm 19 years old really interested in volunteering, I love animals I have 3 dogs and love them and 1 cat. Can someone please recommend something please.
    Millie - 3-Dec-15 @ 9:27 PM
    Elousia1 - Your Question:
    Hello, I am 15 years old from UK Maidenhead and I have a real interest in working with animals. Do you have any vacancies at the weekend, if not I wouldn't mind volunteering. please contact!

    Our Response:
    Try animal shelters in your area - most however will not accept volunteers under the age of 16. You could ask friends and neighbours if they need help with dog walking, or someone to pop in and feed the cats etc.
    VoluntaryWorker - 30-Sep-15 @ 12:34 PM
    Hello, I am 15 years old from UK Maidenhead and I have a real interest in working with animals. Do you have any vacancies at the weekend, if not I wouldn't mind volunteering. please contact!
    Elousia1 - 29-Sep-15 @ 5:38 PM
    Hi, I'm Steph and I'm 15 years old. And I live in the Bradford area. Bingley to be precise. And I want to be a dog handler when I am older. And am looking to volunteer with animals as part of that. But the required age for the RSPCA is 16-18. If any charity's are looking for a volunteer...I believe I could do it.
    Steph - 28-Sep-15 @ 9:57 PM
    Hi, I'm 13 years old, and in less than a month I will be 14, I live in Ramsgate, Kent, England and I really love animals of all sorts, and would love to get into a job or voluntary work to do with animals, but I'm struggling to find somewhere to volunteer near where I live and somewhere that I can volunteer working around my school hours, so ideally at the weekend, could you suggest anywhere that would be good for me and a link to the website? I would really appreciate it, thank you :)
    Jess - 29-Aug-15 @ 11:41 PM
    Hi I'm very passionate about animal especially dogs, rabbits and hamsters. I am 13 and 14 in February I was wondering whether they is any animal shelters in Wakefield I could volunteer at
    Lukey - 9-Aug-15 @ 10:37 PM
    Hi, my name is Ashleigh, I am 13, and I live in Sherburn in Elmet near tadcaster and Selby. I love animals and all I want to do is volunteer with them but I cant find anywhere that I am old enough that's nearby. Please suggest anywhere nearby, and PLEASE give my some advise. Thankyou!!
    <3 animals!! - 26-Apr-15 @ 11:53 PM
    Hey, I'm 15 years old and I love animals and would love to be a vet in the future. I've been looking for charities to volunteer for butno luck since the age is usually 16/18. Can someone recommend a charity that would let me volunteer at his age.
    KK - 16-Apr-15 @ 9:09 PM
    @Mal. Try the RSCPA and any animal sanctuaries in your area to see if they have any volunteer opportunities.
    VoluntaryWorker - 31-Mar-15 @ 12:42 PM
    Hi, im from bradford and i love animals. I have two cats and one dog and i do sometimes take care of my cousins horses. I would love to volunteer. if it is possible for me to volunteer please let me know thanks
    Mal - 27-Mar-15 @ 5:34 PM
    @jessica. Here is a website with a list of animal sanctuaries in Northern Ireland. You should write or ring any that are in your area to see if there are any volunteer opportunities.
    VoluntaryWorker - 25-Mar-15 @ 10:21 AM
    Hi, I'm Jessica, I'm 14 years old and love pretty much all animals, but would love to work with Small animals, such as Rabbits, Dog and cats. I love helping animals...and would love to volunteer at a shelter..I can't find any near me though ??. I'm from County Down in Northern Ireland. Does anybody know anywhere that I can volunteer in is area...with animals....at 14. I would really appreciate it ~Sincerely Jessica~
    Animals4ever?? - 22-Mar-15 @ 12:35 AM
    Hello! My name is Ilenia, I'm a dog trainer and I would be very interested in volunteering. Thank you and best regards.
    Ilenia - 15-Nov-14 @ 3:01 PM
    hello, my name is chloe I am 14 years of age I live in rainham , kent I am currently being home schooled as part of this I can volunteer and have always wantd to work with animals. I am finding it hard at the moment to find anywhere local to work with animals. I am a good time keeper , I am also very social and have very good communication skills to anyone. if you could give me any information on where to go in my area I would be grateful. thank you
    clo - 28-May-14 @ 6:57 PM
    I would like work with dogs. I have recently lost my son with whom l lived and am looking for voluntary work in this country l live in Colchester . I currently have two dogs a five year old cocker spaniel and. A nine yearolf cross Jack Russell who is a rescue dog..l also work part-time so would only be able to help for a few to help for a few hours a week not only would l be helping the dogs this would help me immensely I look forward to hearing from you
    h - 13-Apr-14 @ 9:45 AM
    hi i have just lost my dog he was my best firendi would like to do dog walking as i cannot have another one and i miss walking so much can you tell me the nearest shelter to west bromwich thank you
    di - 6-Sep-13 @ 3:11 PM
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