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Thank you for your interest in volunteering at the County of San Diego Department of Animal Services! We care for more than 25,000 cats, dogs and farm animals every year who have been lost, abandoned and neglected. The high level of care we are able to provide the animals in our care is sustained in part by our dedicated and compassionate volunteers.

Each year, more than 600 volunteers, with a wide variety of backgrounds, donate more than 34,000 hours of service, giving hands-on care to animals, educating our community, providing administrative support, and more. Our volunteers report a deep sense of satisfaction in contributing to the health and well-being of animals while working with others who share their interests and goals.

We provide the training for all volunteer positions, so no prior experience is required for most positions. Whether providing time out of the kennel for our dogs and cats, or helping to make an event successful, you can be a part of the life-saving work we do.

While we do not assign work shifts, we do find that many, if not most people have weekday jobs and can only volunteer on the weekends. We are in great need of people who can volunteer during the week so that the animals receive the attention they need every day of the week.

If you are interested in joining our Pet Pals Volunteer program, you will need to attend a Volunteer Orientation class. Classes are held monthly at each of our three shelters. Please refer to the following schedule for an orientation date and time that will work with your schedule:

San Diego

Saturday October 15th @ 10:00 am

Carlsbad

Saturday October 29th @ 10:00 am

Bonita

Saturday October 1st @ 10:00 am

ORIENTATIONS ARE APPROXIMATELY 2-HOURS IN LENGTH. PLEASE PLAN ACCORDINGLY .

ORIENTATIONS ARE OPEN TO THE PUBLIC - YOU DO NOT HAVE TO RESERVE A SEAT.

YOU MUST ATTEND AN ORIENTATION PRIOR TO SUBMITTING AN APPLICATION

Shelter Locations (click region location for directions):

San Diego Region
5480 Gaines Street
San Diego, CA 92110-2888
Northern Region
2481 Palomar Airport Road
Carlsbad, CA 92011-1531
Southern Region
5821 Sweetwater Road
Bonita, CA 91902-2219

Expectations of Animal Services Volunteers

  • Dedicated volunteers are an extremely important part of our animal care team. We require that volunteers schedule their hours according to animal care needs. It is vitally important that volunteers show up for their shifts.
  • While people come to Animal Services because they love animals, volunteers must also be able to work well with other people. Animal Services Isn't just about animals-it's about people helping animals.
  • For everyone's protection, volunteers must use the safe animal handling techniques taught in their required training.
  • All tasks, from cleaning cages to computer work, have specific procedures. Volunteers must adhere to these procedures unless a staff member directs them otherwise.
  • Once volunteers know the standards of care and handling, they are expected to work with minimal supervision. Following through on tasks ensures the animals are receiving the best possible care. Staff are always available to answer questions.
  • Volunteers are allowed in our shelters between the hours of 8am - 5:30pm Tuesday through Saturday, and 8am - 3pm on Sunday and Monday (we are closed to the public on those two days each week). While the shelters are closed on county holidays, experienced volunteers are allowed on site on those days as well.

Getting Started

If you are interested in volunteering with Animal Services, you will need to:

  1. Be of age. Volunteer positions have a minimum age requirement of 18.
  2. Email address/Internet access: Because our scheduling is done online, and all communications are done viaemail, we do require that you have access to the internet and a valid email address that you check regularly.
  3. Attend an orientation. At orientation, you can pick up a volunteer application to take home and complete, then mail back to the department. Completed applications can be mailed to Volunteer Coordinator, 5480 Gaines St., San Diego, CA 92110 or faxed to (619)767-2647. You must attend orientation prior to submitting an application. .
  4. Acceptance into the program. Your application will be reviewed and submitted for a background check. We cannot accept volunteers that have a felony conviction on their record, or any history of animal abuse or neglect.
  5. Training. All new volunteers will start by learning about our organization, and receive training on many aspects of our operation over time. Our goal is to build knowledgeable volunteers who are committed to learning and growing in their service.
  6. All new volunteers will start by learning about our organization, and receive training on many aspects of our operation over time. Our goal is to build knowledgeable volunteers who are committed to learning and growing in their service.
  7. Make a commitment. A commitment of 6-hours of service each month for six consecutive months is required.

POSITIONS:

DOCENT - Volunteers in this position spend their time assisting the public by answering questions regarding adoption procedures, pricing, helping the public find their way around the shelter, etc. .

DOG PALS - Dog volunteers receive additional training on safety, dog body language, disease control and handling skills. This training is a combination of online information and hands on training.

CAT COMPANIONS - Cat volunteers receive additional training on safety, cat body language, disease control and handling skills. This training is a combination of online information and hands on training.

RABBITS - Rabbit volunteers are mentored by experienced rabbit volunteers. .

OFFICE ASSISTANT - This position involves assisting the kennel supervisors and the Volunteer Coordinator in maintaining records and kennel paperwork. Hours are typically in the morning.

PHOTOGRAPHY/VIDEOGRAPHY - A picture is worth a thousand words! Each animal that comes into our shelters is photographed upon arrival, and as one might guess, these are not usually glamour shots. We seek skilled photographers who can work independently to provide that picture that speaks to the hearts of potential adopters! Must have your own camera.

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