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Volunteering to work with animals

Working with animals can be very rewarding and provides new areas of interest. Volunteering opportunities are diverse.

What you can do

Volunteering to work with animals can be a hobby or give you the confidence and skills to help you change career. Opportunities include:

  • dog walking and kennel duties
  • looking after injured animals
  • working at a community farm
  • monitoring local wildlife
  • working with stray and feral cats
  • helping at the zoo

You can also volunteer for roles which don't involve working with animals. For example, many wildlife and animal charities need help organising events or with photography and fund-raising.

Commitment

Think about the level of commitment you are willing to give. Looking after animals can be demanding, physical work and you may need some training. For example, if you want to work as a volunteer at a local wildlife rescue centre you should be able to recognise the symptoms of sick animals and request specialised help. The majority of animal rescue centres will not expect you to be an animal specialist, but a desire to learn and a love of animals will always help you.

You can also volunteer for non-animal jobs within an animal or wildlife charity. For example, many charities need help with organising events or with photography and fund-raising.

For volunteering ideas, contact the charity of your choice or visit Volunteer Now's website.

Case study

One of the best ways to find out about volunteering is to read a case study by someone who already gives their time.

Claire volunteers with The Donkey Sanctuary at Templepatrick, a therapy centre for children and adults with learning disabilities. They also provide outreach by bringing these rescue donkeys to residential homes and hospitals.

Claire wanted to mix her love of animals with giving a little back to society. The centre offers her the ideal opportunity to work directly with the donkeys but the highlight is seeing the children’s faces each week, how much they enjoy the tailored sessions and how much they progress and learn new skills.

Her advice to others is “choose a voluntary placement that you have an interest in. Although I studied animal care there is no formal training required to work at the centre, just a willingness to clean out and groom and generally get involved as well as supporting the children as they ride around."

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