Day in the Life of a Dumb Friends League Volunteer

More than 1,400. That’s how many generous individuals donate their time providing life-changing help to the more than 20,000 homeless pets and horses we care for each year at the Dumb Friends League. We have nearly 70 volunteer positions held by people of varying ages with different backgrounds and experience, all with the shared love of animals and a desire to help. (WE LOVE OUR VOLUNTEERS!)

What does a day look like for those volunteers? Well, that depends upon what position each volunteer has. A dog walker volunteer’s day is quite a bit different than a surgery recovery volunteer’s day—but each plays an equally vital role in helping animals in their journeys to a new home.

“There’s nothing better than seeing someone who’s super excited to take home their new pet.”
-Kathy S., Dumb Friends League Customer Care Volunteer

When you visit the Dumb Friends League, it is likely that the first faces you’ll see are those of our customer care volunteers. They greet you with a friendly smile, ask what type of pet you are looking for and help you get signed in to meet with pets. (Fun fact: when you visit us, you may notice that some folks wear blue shirts and others wear green or orange ones. Here’s the scoop: staff wears blue shirts and volunteers wear green or orange.)

Customer care volunteers work with both pets and pet lovers. Some greet patrons when they first walk in the door, others bring pets into visiting rooms to meet potential adopters for the first time and others complete the adoption.

The volunteers will tell you that some days are busier than others, so during the quieter shifts, many will spend quality time with the adoptable pets. “It’s like therapy, I look forward to my shift every week,” says volunteer Elizabeth F. as she sits on the floor of the Cat Pavilion giving affection to a feline friend waiting to find a new home.

Customer care volunteers say there’s nothing they enjoy more than seeing the joy on people’s faces as they meet their new furry family members and playing a role in helping those animals find new, loving homes.

“I decided to volunteer so I could get my furry friend fix.”
-Susan R., Dumb Friends League Animal Care Volunteer

When you think of volunteering at an animal shelter, it’s likely you think of duties like cleaning kennels. Animal care volunteers make up a large percentage of the volunteer population at the League and it’s often the first position many volunteers hold when they begin giving their time to the League. They work with our animal care team doing everything from cleaning kennels, emptying litter boxes, providing food and water and of course, spending time with animals, among other duties. (Fun fact: the Dumb Friends League uses approximately 195,000 pounds of cat litter and 10,000 poop bags each year!)

Speaking of spending time with animals, one of the biggest perks of being an animal care volunteer is getting a furry friend fix. While tidying up kennels, volunteers take the time to give loving chin scratches and ear rubs to homeless pets looking for a little extra love and affection.

But there are other perks too. “You get to meet a lot of nice people who are all here for the same reason—the animals,” says animal care volunteer Susan R., who’s gotten to know a lot of fellow animal lovers during her years volunteering for the League.

“We’ve made such a difference in so many lives, it’s a good feeling.”
-Margaret M., Dumb Friends League Surgery Recovery Volunteer

In surgery recovery, animals are carefully monitored as they wake up from anesthesia after spays, neuters, dental procedures and orthopedic surgeries, just to name a few. (Fun Fact: Last year we performed more than 8,500 surgeries on homeless pets!)

Volunteers in this area work closely with Dumb Friends League veterinary technicians to monitor animals’ vital signs like heart rate and body temperature. They’ll even take the time to trim toenails, clean ears and give their coats a quick brushing if needed. And of course, they provide gentle care and loving pets as the groggy animals begin to awaken.

Why do they enjoy volunteering in surgery recovery? The volunteers say they love knowing that they’ve played a vital role in helping get homeless animals healthy and ready for their new homes. “It gives me a good feeling,” says surgery recovery volunteer Margaret M. “I love the animals and I’m proud of the Dumb Friends League.”

“I love seeing individual dogs come around and gain confidence.”
-Jennifer M., Dumb Friends League Animal Behavior Volunteer

When some animals arrive at the Dumb Friends League, they need a little extra help. They may be fearful, feel uncomfortable being handled or need socialization. The animal behavior team works with these pets to help get them ready for adoption and set them up for success in their new homes. (Fun fact: more than 6,600 homeless pets benefitted from in-house behavior training last year alone!)

Volunteers in this department do everything from simply walking dogs to training sessions that help fearful animals learn to trust people.

On a given day, an animal behavior volunteer who works with dogs, for example, may help one dog learn to feel comfortable walking on a leash and another gain confidence around people using clicker training. “For some animals it’s less like teaching them, it’s more like reminding them that they can trust people,” says animal behavior volunteer Jennifer M.

“WE LOVE OUR VOLUNTEERS!”
-The entire Dumb Friends League Staff

We’ve learned about volunteers who work with patrons to pick new furry family members, make sure animals’ temporary homes are nice and clean, ensure pets safely recover from surgery and help dogs overcome fear. And we’ve barely even scratched the surface. We didn’t even get a chance to talk about the volunteers who train other volunteers, stuff envelopes, foster animals in their homes, help at events like the Furry Scurry and so much more!

We love our volunteers and appreciate the life-changing difference they make in the lives of homeless pets and horses every day. In honor of National Volunteer Week, THANK YOU to our compassionate, hard-working volunteers!

So next time you visit one of our shelters and you see a smiling face in a green or orange shirt, please thank them for all they do to help the animals in our care.

We are always looking for new volunteers. If you’re looking for a way to give back with the perk of getting a furry fix, click here to learn more about volunteering at the Dumb Friends League.