Do you have an abundance of love to share with animals other than your own? Or does your current situation not allow you to have a pet, but you want some quality time with four-legged critters? Why not spread your affections by volunteering at a local animal shelter?
There are several rescue options to choose from in the area. Melbourne, Viera, Rockledge, Palm Bay, and Merritt Island all have rescue and shelters that need volunteers. And there are more unique options in the area too. Melbourne has The Last Chance Sanctuary and the Space Coast Kibble Kitchen. Animal Love in Palm Bay services more exotic and wild animals. Cocoa has All Pets Matters and United Humanitarians. Of course, you should do your homework before deciding on a shelter or rescue to donate your time. There’s more information in my Brevard County, Florida Animal Rescue Groups blog article.
When most people think about volunteering at a shelter, they think they’ll be stuck scooping poop and walking and playing with the animals. But other options allow you to use your skills and gifts beyond the everyday clean-up and care of the pets. Here are some alternatives to consider and offer when you contact the rescue to provide your time.
This is probably the most apparent option. Most rescues and shelters have a difficult time keeping up with the cleaning and maintenance of their spaces. The cleaning goes beyond making sure the areas the animals use are sanitary. Deep cleaning the offices and lobby, walls, windows, and floorboards are all necessary. Maintenance in the shelter could include tightening cabinet hinges, reinforcing furniture, touching up paint, pressure washing the exterior, and landscaping. The shelter will most likely have a to-do list waiting for you if you let them know in advance that you’d like to put your handiwork to use there.
Transporting animal friends to foster homes, to the vet, or other shelters may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of helping a rescue, but it’s a real need of some shelters. Most shelters have enough manpower to service the inside, but leaving the office to transport critters is difficult. You could even be on call during specific days and times for short notice requests. All you have to do is let the shelter know that you’re willing to chauffeur their friends.
Engaging with social media takes time and knowledge that most rescue staff don’t have. If you have a knack for using social media to spread awareness, taking your skills to a shelter would be a most welcome offer. The rescue may need someone to regularly post pictures of animals ready for adoption, organize a social media campaign for an event, or be an administrator for a pet-related Facebook group. In any case, and at a minimum, sharing the shelter’s information with your social media network will be helpful.
Do you have a passion for digital pics? It’s remarkably difficult to get good, sharable pictures of squirmy critters or quality action photos. Plus, it’s time-consuming. Why not offer a couple of hours of your time to capture the right images the shelter can use to promote their animals to help them get adopted? You could even share your techniques with the staff so that, when time allows, they can get great shots of their four-legged guests.
The most meaningful and tangible way to help a shelter or rescue is to foster one of their adoptable pets. Fostering usually means providing a home for animals when the shelter is overcapacity until a forever home can be found. The timeframe for how long a foster parent has the pet varies, ranging from one day up to a year, and is a serious commitment. If you’re looking to make the most impact to a shelter, fostering is the way to go.
Hopefully, these ideas have sparked some inspiration into how you can volunteer at a local rescue. As you read, opportunities can go beyond cleaning animal enclosures and playing with the animals. Start by searching the internet and making a list of shelter options convenient for you. Then contact the shelter to learn what their greatest needs are. If their needs don’t include anything you have in mind, suggest it to them! Usually, rescues won’t say no to a volunteer as long as it’s going to add value to their services.
If you have questions or need pet care for your pets, contact us today!
Melanie is the owner and founder of Brevard’s premier trusted in-home pet care company. With a Sociology & Criminal Justice degree from the University of Tennessee, she took her corporate security background and combined it with her lifelong passion for animals – that’s how Space Coast Pet Services was born in 2016! She is certified in Pet First Aid & CPR, insured, and proudly completed a full background check successfully. She is committed to ongoing training and education for herself and her team. To learn more, click here.
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