Home > Becoming a Volunteer > Working With Animals

Working With Animals

By: Leigh Sexton - Updated: 11 Oct 2018 | 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.

    You might also like...
    Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
    [Add a Comment]
    Hi I’m currently 15 (16 in January) I am just wondering if anyone knows of any volunteer work with working with animals. I’m from Manchester so would need to be around there. Just can’t find any that will allow under 18’s. What should I do/go?
    LucyCrompton - 11-Oct-18 @ 6:47 PM
    hi, i'm Etienne and i'm 13 and starting my DofE soon but i wasn't sure where your are based.
    Etienne - 6-Oct-18 @ 3:38 PM
    hia , im fia , im 14 an i would absolutely love to volunteer ! i live in manchester and any kind of animal is great with me im just not sure how to apply any information would be so helpful thank you :)
    fia - 25-Aug-18 @ 5:00 PM
    Hi,my name is Shauna I’m 13 (14 in less than 2 months) and I really want to start volunteering and working with animals .i have a chameleon that is fully my responsibility two dogs and a bearded dragon ,I love dogs and reptiles but to be honest I generally just love all animals .im up to doing anything even not the most wanted jobs like cleaning out kennels and enclosure etc as long as it means being around animals so yeah .
    Shauna - 24-Jul-18 @ 8:06 PM
    Hi, my name is Hannah and I love animals. I am 14 and would love to work with cats, nothing that involves fostering. I don’t mind working with other animals in the slightest though. I live the the Twickenham/Richmond area, where should I go?
    Hannah - 9-Jul-18 @ 7:52 PM
    Hi there! My friend and I are 13 turning 14 at the end of the year and we’re wondering how we could go about volunteering. Our parents can’t volunteer with us, which we know is a problem in some shelters, but we were wondering if there were and shelters in the Manchester/Warrington area that would allow us to volunteer. Thanks
    Hgrimes_ - 2-Jun-18 @ 9:19 PM
    Hi, my name is Shan. I'm 15 years old, turning 16 in september. I love working with animals, mainly dogs, but I love all animals! Would you be able to help me, please?
    Shan - 9-May-18 @ 2:51 PM
    i live in near coventry in the west midlands and i'm looking for a volunteering job with animals mainly dogs.
    Sian - 1-Sep-17 @ 4:54 AM
    hi, i'm sian and i am 14 years old. i've always wanted to work with animals and i've looked everywhere online but i can't find a volunteering job for me. can someone please help me?
    sian - 1-Sep-17 @ 4:51 AM
    Hi my name is Sophia I am 15 yrs old and looking to volunteer with animals at the weekends. I live in Kent near Sevenoaks if you know of anything around that area that I could do please let me know. Thankyou
    Sophia - 30-Aug-17 @ 6:55 PM
    Hi! I'm 14 in 19 days and I'm thinking of volunteering. I live in Manchester..I'm interested in working with animals. What should I do/go?
    Alice9481 - 16-Jul-17 @ 8:17 PM
    My granddaughter currently looking for volunteer work opportunities with animals. Rescue centres , vets . Hoping to find one soon to complete DovE bronze award Kiera is 14 yrs old and lives in Glasgow. Any advice welcome .
    Beth - 26-Jun-17 @ 11:35 PM
    Hi, i turn 14 in August,I do love animals and i would love to volunteer. I need all the experience i can get as i do wish to work with animals as a future career. I have looked at many websites hiring but i have only found this, i am really interested in volunteering :)
    Emma - 17-Jun-17 @ 9:28 PM
    Hannah - Your Question:
    HI my names hannah, I have a massive love for animals and have always wanted to help out I live in Ipswich. I'm 13 turning 14 in a few months, I would love to walk some dog. What should I do?? Where should I go??

    Our Response:
    RSPCA Ipswich and Suffolk East
    Kimmys Zoo
    The Cinnamon Trust
    VoluntaryWorker - 16-Jun-17 @ 10:12 AM
    HI my names hannah, I have a massive love for animals and have always wanted to help out I live in Ipswich. I'm 13 turning 14 in a few months, I would love to walk some dog. What should I do?? Where should I go??
    Hannah - 13-Jun-17 @ 2:23 PM
    I am 13 and want to work with animals what should I do
    Lil - 5-May-17 @ 6:05 PM
    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
    Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice...
    Title:
    (never shown)
    Firstname:
    (never shown)
    Surname:
    (never shown)
    Email:
    (never shown)
    Nickname:
    (shown)
    Comment:
    Validate:
    Enter word:
    Latest Comments
    • Mij
      Re: Working with the Homeless
      This year after watching a tv program. I decided to work overtime and buy three tins of roses and large bag of dog treats. This…
      11 December 2018
    • WEBBA
      Re: Volunteer With Your Local Fire Service
      Hello there I am interested in joining the fire service. At this moment I am unemployed so have a lot of time on my…
      11 December 2018
    • running faster
      Re: Working with the Homeless
      hi I like to help out in the Eastbourne area on Christmas day
      11 December 2018
    • Gra
      Re: Working with the Homeless
      I would like to volunteer my services to help out in a soup or food kitchen for the homeless on Xmas morning in or around the Cannock…
      10 December 2018
    • Kim
      Re: Working with the Homeless
      Hi there looking to help out on Christmas Day, not sure where to start. Leeds/Wakefield area. If anybody knows of anywhere I can help…
      10 December 2018
    • Mand
      Re: Working with the Homeless
      I would be privileged to help out on a regular basis I run a food van near the Barnsley football club, Barnsley. Hope to hear from you…
      8 December 2018
    • Max
      Re: Working with the Homeless
      I’m free to help on Christmas Day - plymouth area
      7 December 2018
    • Swalesey
      Re: Working with the Homeless
      Hi I would be privileged to help out in any way possible over Xmas in the Darlington area. If there is any role I could then it’d be a…
      5 December 2018
    • Caz
      Re: Working with the Homeless
      Hi I was wondering if you need any volunteers on Christmas Day , Boxing Day , New Years Eve , New Years Day .
      5 December 2018
    • Maggie
      Re: Working with the Homeless
      My husband and I would like to help out Xmas period willing to do anything but I'm good in the kitchen. We live in Ayrshire . Thank you
      3 December 2018