How old do I have to be to volunteer with the animals?
You must be at least 18 years of age before you can walk dogs, work in the cat room, or otherwise have contact with any of the animals. We apologize for the restriction, but issues related to insurance force us to impose this requirement.
If I'm under 18, what jobs can I do?
You can join the Youth Volunteer Program for students grades 7 - 12! It runs on Tuesdays and Thursdays between 4:00 pm and 8:00 pm. Please call as soon as you get your class assignments as this program does fill up quickly.
You can also organize a drive to collect items from our Wish List. You can ask your friends, relatives, neighbors, and classmates if they'd like to donate things such as blankets, towels, dog toys, bags of kitty litter, cleaning supplies, etc. These donations are very helpful to us, since we use-up an enormous amount of supplies every year.
You and your family can also help with foster care.
Are there any other requirements for volunteering?
You should be able to read and communicate well enough to follow instructions. You should get along well with others, because you will have to work closely with staff members or other volunteers. But you should also have the ability to work independently without close supervision.
Dog enrichment, educational farm, and wildlife volunteers need to be healthy and reasonably strong.
If you are taking immuno-suppressive drugs, you should check with your doctor before you start volunteering.
Do you have a foster care program?
Yes, and the whole family can help with this rewarding job! We're always looking for people who can provide temporary care and housing to young or ill animals. The animals would live with you for a period of a few weeks, until they can be returned to the SPCA for adoption. You don't need to attend our "orientation" sessions in order to do foster care. Contact the Foster Care Department, 716-629-3509 for more information, or visit our Foster Care information page. We also have a NEW LEASH ON LIFE canine behavioral foster program. Call 716-609-0189 for more information!
What jobs are available for people who want to come in and work with the animals at the SPCA?
There are a variety of animal care and clerical jobs available. You can read some brief descriptions above!
Can I do more than one job? For example, can I clean cat cages and walk dogs?
If you decide that you want to work with animals, we ask that you limit yourself to a single animal-care job, at least until you become a "seasoned" volunteer. We value enthusiastic volunteers, but we don't want you to over-extend yourself. However, if you feel up to the task, you can add an administrative-type job such as data entry whenever you feel like you can handle the extra work load.
Is there a minimum time commitment?
Yes. If you have an animal-care job, we request that you agree to volunteer for at least two hours per week, for at least a year. (You're welcome to commit to a longer shift, if your schedule allows it.) We apologize for imposing such stringent requirements. The reason is this: the staff and existing volunteers invest substantial time and effort into training new "recruits". Having a large turn-over would put a strain on everyone involved.
However, there are some exceptions to this rule. Please see the explanation further below.
Can I drop in and work whenever I have time?
No, we ask that people adhere to a regular schedule (for example, 1:00 - 4:00 PM every Tuesday). Of course, we assume that you will occasionally be forced to miss your shift as a result of vacations, doctors' appointments, etc. However, we do ask that you make a sincere effort to follow your schedule whenever possible.
Are there exceptions to the rules about time commitment and keeping a regular schedule?
Yes. Foster care is performed in your home, so there is no particular schedule. Special Event help (such as answering phones at our annual Radiothon) is done on an as-needed basis. Data entry is also more flexible.
Paws for Love requires a commitment of two visits per month.
Some of the other non-animal-care jobs are also more flexible about time commitments. Ask us for details.
Do you offer a summer-only volunteer program?
No, unfortunately we do not.
Does your volunteer program cover court-ordered community service?
No, we are unable to accommodate these requests at this time.
What if I only need to do a certain number of hours for school?
You may be scheduled to help with a special event. You can do this without attending our "Orientation" sessions. Advance notice is required, usually at least two weeks. Please use the contact information at the top of the page to sign up for a special event!
You can also organize a drive to gather items from our Wish List. Just keep track of how much time you spend on this project, and we'll sign any documents required by your school.
How do I set my schedule?
Once you have completed our "orientation" sessions, the staff and existing volunteers will work with you to determine a mutually acceptable schedule.