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How to Volunteer at an Animal Sanctuary?

Woman cuddling a small pig outdoors

Volunteering at an animal sanctuary allows you to make a difference in the lives of animals. It can be a really pleasing experience as you help the local staff in all aspects of animal care. However, it’s important to gain sufficient knowledge before applying (as a volunteer) to an animal sanctuary. Keep reading to know about the basic requirements to volunteer at an animal sanctuary and learn about the major responsibilities.

Ever wondered how to volunteer for an animal shelter? Click here to learn more.

How to Volunteer at the Best Friends Animal Sanctuary?

Best Friends Animal Sanctuary is located about 5 miles north of Kanab Canyon in Southern Utah. The primary goal of this organization is to save the lives of animals around the United States and give them happy homes. Volunteering at this animal sanctuary allows you to provide love, personal attention, and hands-on care to animals. Read on to learn about the primary requirements that must be fulfilled to volunteer at the Best Friends animal sanctuary.

Age Requirements

Close up of a small boy petting a rabit

The sanctuary operates in many animal areas and the minimum age for each one of them is different. Therefore, you will need to select the area in which you want to volunteer to see if you qualify. The minimum age to work in all the areas is listed below.

  • Bunny House = 8 years
  • Parrot Garden = 8 years
  • Cat World = 9 years
  • Dogtown and outings = 16 years
  • Horse Haven = 16 years
  • Piggy Paradise = 16 years
  • Angel’s Rest = 18 years
  • Landscaping = 18 years
  • Sanctuary Store = 18 years
  • Wild Friends = 18 years

NOTE: People older than 65 years will need a health certificate from a medical professional to become a volunteer.

Clothing Requirements

Woman with 2 braids in her hair and wearing a blue t-shirt and jeans, petting a dog outdoors in a fenced in area
  • Shoes – All the volunteers are supposed to wear closed-toe shoes in all animal areas (clog-type shoes are not permitted). Sneakers or hiking shoes are the best option in most animal areas, except for horses and pigs. For those areas, boots are recommended.
  • Dress – Long pants are highly recommended in all animal care areas. They become essential when you are dealing with horses or pigs. Volunteers should dress in multiple layers during the spring, fall, and winter months. This is because the mornings can be chilly and the afternoons are usually warm. Using a hat and sunscreen is also recommended because of the strong sun rays throughout the year.
  • Volunteers who have a history of working with equines, goats, or sheep should bring fresh clothes and shoes (that have not been worn around those animals).

Transportation Requirements

View of the passenger side mirror and front quarter panel of a white car as seen from outside the back passenger door
  • Best Friends animal sanctuary doesn’t provide transportation to volunteers and you will need your own vehicle.
  • Walking is not an option because the sanctuary is spread across more than 3,700 acres.
  • Bicycles are not allowed on most Sanctuary roads.
  • Volunteers are required to drive to and from the welcome center, animal areas, and other locations.
  • Volunteers with RVs longer than 21 feet should get a car to get around the sanctuary. This is because they will have difficulty maneuvering on some of the sanctuary’s roads and parking areas.

Interested in helping injured animals but don’t know where to start? Check out our post “How to Volunteer at an Animal Hospital” to learn more.

Volunteer Shifts

Calendar with a date circled and marked "Volunteer" in bright green marker, with the marker laying to one side.

Best Friends animal sanctuary recommends candidates to schedule their shifts as early as possible. This is because each animal area has a limited number of volunteers during each shift. A shift can be scheduled as far as 1 year in advance. For more information about advance scheduling, you can contact the Sanctuary volunteer department at volunteers@bestfriends.org.    

The sanctuary offers two volunteer shifts for each day of the year. The first slot is from 8:15 am-11:30 am while the second shift begins at 1:15 pm and ends at 4:00 pm. You can set the entire volunteering schedule online and keep it as flexible as you want. You can also visit https://volunteers.bestfriends.org/ to know more details.

Primary Volunteer Responsibilities

Person cleaning out kennels in an animal shelter setting

The following are some of the major responsibilities of every volunteer at the Best Friends animal sanctuary.

  • Mopping the living areas and cleaning the dishes of animals.
  • Providing the animals with enrichment activities, like car rides and playing sessions and taking them for walks with a leash or stroller.
  • Preparing and serving food/treats to the animals and giving toys to them.
  • Doing maintenance projects and keeping the grounds and buildings in the best shape. Weeding, painting, and building structures are some of these tasks.
  • Selected volunteers are also required to take approved cats, dogs, and bunnies on sleepovers. This is a fun activity that helps to prepare pets for going to their forever homes.

If you want to go for a sanctuary tour before applying, visit https://bestfriends.org/sanctuary/plan-your-visit/book-tours-and-activities/tour-schedule-and-information to book a tour. In case of any other queries, you can send an email to volunteers@bestfriends.org.

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Please note: We are not veterinarians and you use our advice at your own discretion. We always recommend that you consult your veterinarian whenever you have health-related conditions your furbaby is facing. With that in mind, as pet parents ourselves, we wish nothing but the best for your pet and their healthy and happy lives.