Animal Shelter Relies on the Dedication of Volunteers

Ashley Hell, a Burien CARES volunteer, holds an older cat looking for his forever home. Photo credit: City of Burien

As a small community shelter, Burien CARES relies on volunteers to help with day-to-day shelter operations, animal care, and special events. Volunteers are all ages—from high school kids to retirees.

CARES also accepts court-ordered community service volunteers, high school students with senior class service requirements, and just ordinary community members with a desire to help animals in need. Sometimes, whole families come in together to help!

Volunteers must be at least 16 years of age.

All volunteers are required to participate in an initial orientation session, as well as subsequent on-the-job training for nearly every part of shelter operations.

“We have volunteers who are looking to gain experience for a career in an animal- related field, and others who just love animals and want to help out,” says Alexander Hughes, Lead Animal Control Officer/Shelter Operations. “We rely daily on our awesome crew of volunteers to help keep the shelter ship-shape and running smoothly and the animals happy and healthy.”

Volunteers can do a variety of things to help including answering phones, helping customers, walking dogs, cleaning cat kennels, doing the dishes or laundry, or other special projects. For example, if they have a large number of dogs, Burien CARES may need extra help with walking, feeding, and cleaning kennels.

“It’s really up to the individual volunteer’s strengths or interests, and our particular needs at any given time,” said Hughes.

It’s not just the animal shelter that bene- fits from the volunteers’ time and effort.

“For many, there’s the immediate benefit of school or court credit, plus the satisfaction of giving your time and energy to help animals in need and give back to your community,” said Hughes.

“Depending on what they do and how long they’re here, volunteers can gain a variety of practical skills and experience working with and taking care of animals, customer service, etc. And the therapeutic and health benefits of interacting with animals are well documented. We like to think Burien CARES volunteers are just a little bit happier, healthier, and more well-adjusted than the average citizen!”

Emily Inlow-Hood
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