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Pet Lovers


How to Gain Experience Working with Pets

We are often asked if we accept volunteers, particularly by enthusiastic young people under the age of 16 who are…

We are often asked if we accept volunteers, particularly by enthusiastic young people under the age of 16 who are not yet eligible to work at Holiday Barn Pet Resorts. Unfortunately, we do not accept volunteers. But we have an idea that could potentially increase the probability of employment at Holiday Barn once you reach your 16th birthday!

Volunteering at a local animal rescue is a great way to gain experience in pet care. Many of the activities at a rescue or shelter are the same activities that we perform every day here at Holiday Barn: Cleaning, filling water bowls, feeding, playing, walking, even bathing, and brushing. There is always a need for someone to do laundry and wash dishes too. There is no job too big or too small. At Holiday Barn, we are willing to do whatever it takes to make our furry guests comfortable and happy.

What can I learn as an animal shelter volunteer?

Most local pet rescues have a training protocol that is quite valuable in itself. Training may include proper ways to greet a dog, basic canine body language, handling aggressive behavior, grooming basics, proper leash usage while walking, and how to safely remove dogs from enclosures. These are all things that we cover during our more extensive onboard training at Holiday Barn.

More experienced animal rescue volunteers may be taught to socialize puppies and kittens, perform enrichment exercises for the dogs, and basic dog training techniques. Once they have proven themself to be a dependable part of the team, volunteers may be asked to answer phones, direct visitors, and perform administration-type work. Depending on availability and desire, volunteers may be called upon to work special events such as fundraising events, or adoption events.

I have no work experience… how can I help?

Do you have a knack for photography? See if you can help take adoption photos. Did you excel at computer skills in school? Maybe you can assist in keeping the website up to date with current pet photos and bios. Are you a wizkid in social media? See if you can help promote the adoption of these beautiful pets awaiting their forever homes via social platforms. Or maybe you’re just a really good belly rubber! That’s important too!

Animal rescues and shelters rely on volunteer work to function. There is so much to be done. As an animal volunteer, you will be helping the organization, the pets, and ultimately yourself as you gain knowledge that can help you in your future career plans. By giving your time to the community, you are also proving yourself as a future leader… someone who is involved, selfless and insightful.

Volunteering is a huge responsibility. Not only are the pets depending on you, but everyone in the organization needs to be able to count on you. In fact, you should devote yourself to your volunteering efforts as you would a paid job.

Are there animal volunteer opportunities near me?

You bet! Due to COVID-19, some rescue organizations are not adding new volunteers at this time, but hopefully, that restriction will be lifted soon. Visit their website for more information, and then give them a call!

The Richmond SPCA accepts volunteers ages 7 and up! Those ages 7 – 14 may volunteer when accompanied by a parent or guardian. If you have reached the age of 14, you may volunteer independently.

Volunteers at the SPCA work 1 – 2-hour shifts. Volunteers must commit to giving four hours of service each month for a period of four months. To remain active after the four-month period, you must perform at least one shift every three months.

One unique volunteering opportunity at the SPCA is the possibility of working in the Susan M. Markel Veterinary Hospital. If your career goal is to become a veterinarian or Veterinary Technician, this will give you some great experience.

At Richmond Animal League (RAL), volunteer responsibilities are based on age. For example, cat volunteers can be ages 16 and up. Dog volunteers are generally 18 and up, but there are opportunities where those under 18 can help with general cleaning and other functions.

Shifts are generally in 2-hour increments but can vary based on responsibilities. RAL asks that volunteers commit to at least 4 months or 40 hours.

For those eventually seeking a career in veterinary science, RAL has a Spay and Neuter Clinic that utilizes the assistance of volunteers on various skill levels.

The Richmond Animal League also has meaningful opportunities for small or large groups. There are several ways to do this: creating supply drives or fundraisers, assisting at events, or volunteering on-site. For more group volunteer information, visit

Here is a link to volunteer opportunities currently at Richmond Animal League:

At Richmond Animal Care and Control (RACC), volunteers are needed to assist with dog walking, pet grooming and bathing, cat socialization and playtime, adoption events and counseling, laundry, and front desk assistance. As mentioned, due to COVID-19, they are not currently accepting new volunteers. Follow them on their Facebook page [link] for updates.

The Henrico Humane Society is a 100% volunteer-run organization. They do not have a “shelter”, but rather all pets live in foster homes until a permanent home is found. Outside of fostering, there are many more opportunities to help.

Volunteers for the HHS must be 18 years or older. However, the “Love Me for Credit” program is available for high school-aged students.

High school students (with parental permission) can foster an animal for community service credit. Responsibilities include feeding, exercising, grooming, bringing the animal to the adoption stand, and lots of TLC.

Visit their website for more information.

More Local Opportunities

Ring Dog Rescue: https//
Fetch a Cure:
Richmond Ruff House:
Friends United with the Richmond Shelter (FURS):
Hanover Humane Society:
Richardsons Rescue:
Saint Francis Human Association:

Final Thoughts

Volunteering is not limited to just the young! It is a caring, generous thing to do no matter what age. Volunteer work enhances satisfaction in life, well-being, gives you a sense of purpose, self-confidence and personal growth for all ages. For those of you who are biding your time waiting till you are eligible to work at Holiday Barn, we look forward to meeting you when you turn 16!

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