This article is part of a series we’re calling Questions From You. You send us questions, and we post the answers right here on the 4-Paw Post! If you have a question and would like to have it considered for Questions From You, send an email to with the subject line “Questions From You.” Now, on to today’s question!

Today’s question is, “Can anybody volunteer?” The short answer is, Yes! There are many ways to help the shelter animals, and anybody can become a volunteer.

There are a few things to keep in mind if you’d like to volunteer with the SPCA HC. Because there are different tasks we need help with, some volunteers will enjoy some roles than others. Often we find that people 15 and under are eager to spend time with the animals – but we require that people in this age range be accompanied by an adult while at the shelter. We want to make sure that everyone is safe, and that our young volunteers have the guidance they need.

Volunteer Mandy helps out at the front desk and keeps the cat areas tidy in the afternoon once a week.

One of the primary tasks we need volunteers for is morning cleaning. From 7am to 11am, we’re busy busy feeding the animals, scooping litter boxes, scrubbing kennels, washing dishes, and changing the bedding. These tasks are vital for the health of the animals, and we rely heavily on reliable volunteers to make sure it all gets done in a timely fashion. To become a morning cleaning volunteer, you’ll come in for a special training session with Lisa. Lisa is experienced and knowledgeable about what needs done in the mornings, and she’ll help you learn the routine. Once you’ve had your training session, it’s important that you keep us informed about what days/times you’re available so that we can coordinate the schedule appropriately. Younger volunteers may find that morning cleaning is too intensive – but on the other hand, we sometimes have younger volunteers who love coming in with a trusted adult and helping with these tasks.

Adoptable cat Simon benefits from the tender loving care of a morning cleaning volunteer.

We often hear from volunteers who are eager to walk the dogs. We understand that playing with the dogs sounds like lots of fun, and who wouldn’t want to do that? While we highly value volunteers who can walk the shelter dogs, please be aware that the learning process to become a shelter dog walker takes some time. The dogs at the shelter are often coping with a lot of stress, and may have trouble being handled by lots of unfamiliar people. There are special skills that our staff and some volunteers learn to help the dogs have a positive, safe experience. We can teach these skills to those who are willing to be patient and who come in regularly so that they can become a familiar face to the dogs who need them most.

In the spring of 2018, the SPCA HC launched our composting project. We look for volunteers to become Compost Caretakers – a crew of people who are willing to come in periodically to turn the compost, dig new composting sites, and other routine maintenance tasks. Compost Caretakers don’t need to come in on a set schedule. We may schedule work party days for projects that need multiple people. The remainder of the time, we typically send out an email asking for Compost Caretakers to come in on a schedule that works for them when it’s time to work on composting tasks. It’s ok if Compost Caretakers only come once a month – this is a flexible task.

There are also other outdoor tasks, such as lawn mowing, raking, and tidying the dog walking trails in the summer, and snow shoveling/snow blowing in the winter. Much like the Compost Caretakers, those who help us with these tasks can typically come in on a flexible schedule.

Have you seen any of our flyers posted around town? Did you know that the people who post them for us are volunteers? Anyone can join the Flyer Crew! All you need is a working email address and the ability to print 1-15 flyers and post them in areas you frequent. We send out a new flyer every 2 weeks.

Matthew, age 5, brings “tick twisters,” a very important tool we need for the shelter cats and dogs! He heard we didn’t have any, and encouraged his family to help us out.

Some families like to help out the shelter by holding a fundraiser or pet food/supplies drive. Sometimes a supplies drive can fill up our supply closet with needed cleaning items for several weeks! This is a big help. We’ve even had some generous young people who choose to request donations to the shelter in lieu of birthday presents. We can’t even describe how grateful we are for these young community members who are already looking for ways to be kind to the animals! If you’d like to hold a pet food/supplies drive, we’ll be happy to answer any questions about what we need most.

Wow, look at this awesome pet food drive!

We are constantly thinking of new things volunteers can do to help us out, so this list doesn’t cover everything. If you have an idea to help out the shelter animals, please get in touch with us! We have a small staff, so motivated volunteers who are willing to take on tasks and follow through are incredibly important to us.