Donating your time to through volunteer work is a fantastic way to be the change you want to see in the world. And if you’re an animal lover, you can use this opportunity to make a tremendous impact in the lives of pets, wild animals, or even the environment as a whole.
Best of all, some animal volunteer opportunities are so extraordinarily awesome, you’ll wish you could do it all the time!
If your idea of volunteering is devoting every Saturday to back-breaking manual labor that doesn’t give you warm fuzzies, you’ll be glad to know there is a whole world of animal-related volunteer options that will warm your heart — and they all come with plenty of fuzzies.
Snuggle with kittens and play with puppies
Animal shelters around the world need compassionate animal lovers (like you!) to socialize their animals. Most of these gigs involve cleaning up after the pets, so if you’re willing to do a little pooper scooping, you can have the cushy job of cuddling with kitties and playing fetch with puppies. Whether you’re doing this for an animal shelter, or your neighbor who doesn’t have the mobility to take his dog for long walks anymore, this one’s a pet-lover’s dream come true.
Build Parrot Puzzles
Anyone who’s ever met a parrot knows they are way too smart to languish in cages without love. That’s why parrot rescues need creative people like you to assemble toys, build puzzles, and talk to the birds to keep their sharp minds active. But good luck trying to outsmart the macaws — they’re as clever as your average preschooler!
Ride a horse, do some good. If you’re a skilled equestrian, you can train horses, give riding lessons, rehabilitate abused or neglected horses, or help therapy horses do their jobs. You can even lead trail rides. There’s an endless to-do list for horse-loving volunteers.
Join the likes of Charles Darwin, Benjamin Franklin, and Florence Nightingale and become a citizen scientist. This one is especially fun, because being a citizen scientist could mean anything from participating in the annual Audubon Christmas bird count to scuba diving the Great Barrier Reef to monitor the fish. Got a telescope? Map the stars. Like bugs? Study spiders. The world is your oyster.
Make your home a butterfly sanctuary
You can turn your yard a pollinator’s paradise. This one is perfect for people who aren’t big on socializing, but still want to make an impact by supporting local wildlife. You can do this in conjunction with your local horticultural club or just wing it (if you’ll pardon the pun).
Fix feral cats
In major cities, over-large feral cat populations can be problematic for wild birds and can spread diseases. Humanely trapping ferals, taking them to a participating veterinarian, and releasing them back to their outdoor home is a great way to keep their populations in check without harming them. Plus, you get to pet all the neighborhood kitties!
Nothing inspires donors to open their wallets quite like beautiful animal photography and successful projects. Take original photos for wildlife charities or snap a few selfies with your local animal shelter’s kitties for Instagram. Whatever your subject, you’ll love this behind-the-scenes role.
Want to care for big cats or monitor marsupials? At many zoos, teens and adults can get up close and personal with the animals. You can ask your local zoo what needs to be done, so you could be an animal handler, petting zoo coordinator, wildlife champion, mascot, groundskeeper, greeter, and so much more.
If you’re a writer, you’ll love this one. Support your favorite wildlife conservation projects or animal rescue center without leaving your couch. Use your dual love of animals and creative writing to encourage people to donate, to educate them about upcoming projects, or help them determine whether their neighbor’s fat tabby is a mountain lion or not (it’s not). If you’re an internet-dwelling wordsmith and animal lover, this one’s perfect for you.
Have you caught the animal volunteerism bug? What other dream gigs have you found?