Volunteering with animals: how to volunteer with animals 

A young woman crouches, hugs her dog in a sunny garden.

For those of us who can’t get enough of our furry friends – even when they've slobbered several smelly strings of drool all over your trousers just as you were heading out the door – volunteering with animals can be a dream turned reality. Not only do you get to hang out with animals and have a lot of fun – but you also have the opportunity to make a difference to another living being’s welfare. That’s a win-win. 

Whether it’s volunteer dog walking or spending your time as a cat shelter volunteer, volunteering with animals isn’t always glamorous: picking up poop and getting caked in mud is likely to be par for the course (but we love the mucky pups anyway)! Hey, it’ll never be boring. With that in mind, join us as we take a look at how to become an animal rescue volunteer, cat shelter volunteer and explore other amazing ways to help animals!


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Volunteering with animals: why do we do it?

Whether you’re at work, university, school, a stay-at-home parent or otherwise, we all value our free time. Who doesn’t? So, to make the most of it, why not spend it doing things like pet shelter volunteering? Or, learn how to become an animal rescue volunteer. There are so many benefits, not only for the animals – but for you, too! 

That’s because showing care for others, whether they’re family, complete strangers, or animals, is so rewarding. It doesn’t matter how big or small the act of care is. Whether a loved one has made you a cup of tea in the morning, or your four-legged friend has welcomed you home with cuddles and excitement (and a load of pet hairs on your new coat – their gift to you) after a stressful day, you’ll know that even the smallest gestures can have the biggest impacts. 

What’s more, volunteering with animals isn’t just an act of care for the animal, but for yourself, too. Spending time with animals can have a soothing, calming effect on our wellbeing – yes, even when they've just dragged their favourite (and therefore smelliest and slobbery-est) ball onto your cream boucle sofa! Forging friendships with animals, as well as knowing that you’re making a positive impact on their lives, is a really effective way to show yourself – as well as the animals – some care. 

With that in mind, let’s take a look at exactly how to volunteer with animals! 


Want to get everyone involved in volunteering, but the little ones aren’t quite ready to pitch in with more strenuous tasks, like walking Cupcake, the 60kg St. Bernard? Fear not. Check out our family friendly volunteering ideas instead.

 How to volunteer with animals 

Volunteering with animals... it’s quite a broad spectrum. From volunteer dog walking to animal fundraising ideas, there are plenty of ways to get involved when it comes to helping out animals. Let's get started by taking a look at some of the ways you can volunteer with animals:  

  • Volunteer dog walking. Probably one of the most accessible ways to volunteer with animals, volunteering as a dog walker, either for an animal shelter or a neighbour or friend, can be a lot of fun and really helpful to the dog’s owner, too. Don't forget those doggy bags... Fresh dog doo-doos are best scooped and binned with a protective layer between hand and poop!  
  • Pet shelter volunteer. Another relatively accessible method of volunteering with animals, becoming a pet shelter volunteer could mean loads of things. From cat cuddling to dog walking to cleaning and administration help, no matter your ability, there’s likely to be something for you.  
  • Administration and computer work. That’s right, volunteering with animals doesn’t have to involve wrangling enormous dogs! While this isn’t directly volunteering with animals, by using your digital skills to help an animal charity you can do a lot of good for animals. Whether it’s running a social media channel or updating a website, put your digital expertise to work by showing care for animals and those that help them.  

Fundraising. You can also care for animals by fundraising for local animal shelters and national charities. This might not always involve directly volunteering with animals, but it’s still a vitally important way you can spend some of your time caring for their wellbeing. Animal fundraising ideas might include bake sales (yum), car washing, sponsored walks, and much more!  


Love animals but not quite able to make it to them? There are a surprising number of virtual volunteering opportunities that allow you to volunteer in support of animals! Don’t believe us? Just check out our dedicated guide to dedicated guide to online volunteering.

Volunteering with animals: the charities

So, you’ve got some ideas for how to volunteer with animals. Now it’s time to take a look at a couple of charities you can support! Whether you want to know how to become an animal rescue volunteer or get the answer to ‘how do you volunteer at an animal shelter?’, these national charities have a range of opportunities available. 


Possibly the most well-known animal charity in the UK, the RSPCA’s work is crucial in protecting the welfare of animals. With shelters, shops and initiatives up and down the UK, the RSPCA might well prove one of the most accessible methods of volunteering with animals. 

Remember, making a positive impact on an animal’s life doesn't have to involve being physically near animals. With that in mind, here’s exactly how you can support the RPSCA to volunteer with animals: 

There truly is something for everyone – even just having your say can be a huge help to the RSPCA.

The Blue Cross 

The Blue Cross do fantastic work improving the welfare and quality of life for all pets across the UK by providing education, sheltering and a whole host of other services. Here are some of the opportunities the Blue Cross offer volunteers: 

For more opportunities and to see which opportunities are available near you, visit the Blue Cross volunteer opportunities page. 

There are lots of opportunities out there 

There is no end to the different types of volunteering you can do, or the number of organisations you can help out. If you’re inspired to help out, reach out to the national charities above, or give your local charity a call and ask how to volunteer at an animal shelter. 

Simply punch ‘animal charities near me’ into your search engine and see what kind of websites and phone numbers come up. Whether you're donning those stinky old wellies and getting stuck in with dog walking, running a social media account, or volunteering at a charity shop – no matter your skills, everyone has the opportunity to show some care to our animal companions. 

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