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9 Awesome Ideas For Animal Lovers Who Want To Volunteer

Do you want to help neglected and abused animals? Here are several great ways to volunteer.

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Volunteering is a great way to relieve stress and make a positive impact. Volunteering to help and work with animals is especially rewarding because animals cannot speak up for themselves when they are being mistreated. Depending on the amount of time you have available, here are several volunteering options to consider.

1. Rescue animals with the Humane Society.

Atlanta Humane Society / Via atlantahumane.org

The Humane Society of the United States accepts volunteers for animal rescue teams that respond to situations around the country. Whether there’s a natural disaster or a dog-fighting ring is broken up, volunteers can be a huge help in handling the influx of animals at the shelter. Training is provided by the HSUS, and certain FEMA courses must be completed. Get more information about volunteering with the Animal Rescue Team.

2. Volunteer as a guide at your local zoo.

Smithsonian / Via nationalzoo.si.edu

If you love being around exotic animals, consider volunteering at your local zoo. Many zoos train volunteers to work as handlers and guides for school groups. Different zoos all across the country accept volunteers, even the Smithsonian. Find out more about the requirements for volunteers at your local zoo. Often, there will be a required training period, and you will have to commit to at least a minimum number of hours. Some volunteers are able to help as guides, and experienced volunteers may have opportunities to work more directly with animals.

3. Volunteer at a farm sanctuary.

JoAnne McArthur / Via theghostsinourmachine.com

Farm sanctuaries are places where animals can live out their lives in comfort and dignity. Factory farms and stockyards often keep livestock in inhumane conditions, and farm sanctuaries provide a refuge for those animals that have been rescued or escaped. These special refuge facilities are found all across the country, and they help by educating people about the conditions on factory farms. Many farm sanctuaries depend on the help of volunteers.

4. Advocate for animal rights.

PR Web / Via prweb.com

Legislation has a big impact on animals in your state and across the country. Contact your legislators about the issues that matter to you, from animal cruelty to hunting regulations. The ASPCA Advocacy Center is just one place where you can keep track of the latest issues related to animals. By finding advocacy groups in and around your city, you can have a bigger impact on the policies that affect your immediate area. By making your voice heard, you can help look out for animals in your community.

5. Help track birds and other wildlife.

Uncle Sam’s Safari Outfitters / Via unclesamgear.com

Researchers who keep track of species populations and migrations often need help from the public in gathering information. Bird watchers can submit records of their sightings, even if they’re just tracking the species that appear at their personal birdfeeder. The Cornell Lab is just one of many institutions that use citizen science data. Since 1997, the Cornell Lab has used the data submitted by citizens in over 60 scientific papers.

6. Donate to a charity that protects animals.

John Rensten / Getty Images / Via arihanthagirithirumalai.org

Not everyone is able to volunteer their time. Fortunately, financial contributions can be an even bigger help than a few hours of labor. Many organizations provide veterinary services, legal advocacy, and other services that aren’t a great match for volunteers. Donating money feels less personal, but it allows those organizations to purchase medicine and pay the experienced professionals needed for their mission. Before making a contribution, however, it’s important to research different charity organizations to make sure that your money is going toward a worthy cause. The organizations you recognize from commercials probably have more money to spend on advertising, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that they make the best use of donations.

7. Apply for an internship.

Audubon Nature Institute / Via audubonnatureinstitute.org

Would you be interested in helping animals as a career? An internship is a great way to learn more and gain experience working with animals. Internships typically involve a longer period of commitment than other volunteer opportunities, and the hours are often comparable to a part-time or full-time job. Larger organizations may have a wide range of internships available. The application process can be competitive, so it’s important to research the qualifications and prior training expected by the organization.

8. Write a letter to the editor.

Leigh Gotto / Via aldf.org

Letters to the editor are some of the most widely read sections of newspapers. By writing a letter to the editor about animal issues, you can bring up the topic in your larger community. It might be a local periodical or a special interest magazine with a broader audience. Either way, the readership includes people that you wouldn’t meet face to face. There may be elected officials and other policymakers who take notice of these forums for public opinion. The Animal Legal Defense Fund has tips for writing letters to the editor.

9. Volunteer with a local organization.

Volunteer Match / Via npo.io

Ultimately, it’s great to find volunteer opportunities in your own community. Volunteermatch.org has an extensive listing of organizations across the country. You can search by “Cause Areas” to find programs and volunteer positions dealing specifically with animals. By doing a little homework, you can find organizations with missions that align with your personal passion and interests. Get more information about the volunteer positions available, including the requirements and commitments involved.

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