Volunteering at Animal Shelters

Are you wondering what to do with your free time now that you are retired?  Try volunteering at a local animal shelter.  People who volunteer may live longer because they make new social connections and find new purpose in their lives, and animal companionship has several health benefits, including lower blood pressure and a lower stress level.

Research animal shelters in your area.  Shelters need assistance in many different areas, so it shouldnít be difficult to find an opportunity that is a good fit.


  • If you are able, you can exercise, socialize or feed the animals.  Shelter animals desperately need companionship, and by spending time with them, you’ll help them become happier and more likely to be adopted.


  • You can also foster an animal in your home while they wait to be adopted.  Fostering helps shelters get a better sense of an animal’s personality and what their ideal home environment should be.


  • Do you own a digital camera?  You can help animals get adopted more quickly by taking photos of them for the shelterís website.  A good photo can truly make a difference in the time it takes for an animal to get adopted.  Photos that showcase their personality may convince potential adopters to take a second look.


  • Adoption volunteers can assist visitors while they look for the perfect companion, explaining adoption procedures and helping them complete the necessary paperwork.  Administrative volunteers may answer phones, direct questions to the correct department or help the office manage paperwork.


  • It can be hard for shelters to keep up with laundry, such as blankets and towels, so volunteers are always needed in this area.


  • Even if you are unable to volunteer your time, you can still make a difference by donating wish list items like food, blankets, towels, toys, treats and cleaning supplies.

By Caitlin Watzke

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