More and more people are looking for ways to give back on vacation. One way to do just that is by volunteering at a no-kill animal shelter. Not only do you help the animals (and the overworked shelter employees), but also get to hang out with lovable cats, dogs, and more for the length of your stay. Here are 10 places to check out where volunteer goers can interact with animals and help out with other tasks.
Best Friends Animal Sanctuary – Kanab, Utah
At Best Friends Animal Sanctuary, volunteers make a significant difference in the lives of animals by giving them what they need most: personal attention, hands-on care and love. The working sanctuary accepts volunteers for as short as one day or for as long as they would like, and the experience can be tailored to fit what each participant is interested in doing. Volunteers often help out with day-to-day tasks like walking, feeding, grooming and assisting with cleaning, but there's plenty of time for fun with the animals as well. Whether you'd like to spend quiet time socializing, take an animal on outings to town, or even take one home for an overnight stay, you're helping prepare them to find their forever home.
St. John Animal Care Center – Virgin Islands, USA
The only no kill rescue in the Virgin Islands, the Animal Care Center of St. John addresses the problems of cruelty, neglect and abuse on the island's dogs and cats. Next time you're craving a tropical getaway, consider the center'sVolunTourism program, which allows visitors to the Virgin Islands to stop by and spend time volunteering. Whether it's walking the dogs or simply making a donation, every contribution helps and many tourists find themselves coming back year after year. Who knows - you might even end up flying home with a new furry friend. The shelter says that many visitors come to volunteer, fall in love with a dog and decide they just can't live without them stateside.
Maxfund Animal Adoption Center – Denver, Colo.
Founded in 1988 by Dr. Bill Suro and his wife, Nanci, Maxfund Animal Adoption Center in Denver is a nonprofit organization that offers adoption of both dogs and cats, a foster care program and low cost vet care. The shelter has found homes for over 26,317 dogs and cats, and it relies on volunteers to fill many needs, from animal care and housekeeping to special events and fundraising. While the program is flexible, there is an application process and mandatory orientation, which you can find information about online.
Pound Puppy Hike – Red Mountain Resort, Utah
For another chance to combine volunteering with animals with your next vacation, book a stay at Red Mountain Resort. One of the activities offered to guests is the Pound Puppy Hike, where visitors are assigned a friendly puppy or dog from the local Ivins Animal No Kill Shelter to take on a three to four mile walk through the scenic trails of St. George Valley and Padre Canyon. One of the most popular (and complimentary) offerings at the resort, the Pound Puppy Hike comes complete with doggie treats to feed to your new friend. And if it's love at first hike, you might even wind up taking one home. A short jaunt from Las Vegas' McCarran International Airport, Red Mountain Resort is the perfect getaway for animal lovers.
Operation Kindness – Carrollton, Texas
Operation Kindness is the largest no-kill animal shelter in North Texas, and it has saved nearly 80,000 animals since its inception in 1976. The shelter cares for an average of 300 animals daily, and there are many ways that volunteers can help. Some of the volunteer duties at Operation Kindness include walking dogs, maintaining the cat rooms, kennel work, assisting with the foster ambassador program, fundraising, database assistance and adoption counseling. To sign up to volunteer, participants will have to fill out the application, attend an orientation session and then pick their time commitment, which can be tailored to fit their schedule and interests.
The Hermitage No-Kill Cat Shelter & Sanctuary – Tucson, Ariz.
A unique facility, The Hermitage No-Kill Cat Shelter Sanctuary in Tucson, Ariz. has absolutely no cages. The shelter has rescued abandoned felines for 50 years, and is one of only around two dozen shelters in the USA that cares for cats with FIV, FeLV and other special needs. The Hermitage often rescues cats that are about to be euthanized from municipal shelters throughout Arizona and seeks adoptive homes for them. Even if cats don't find a forever family, they get plenty of love from the group of hardworking volunteers at The Hermitage. Opportunities include socializing with the cats, maintenance tasks and
Since PAWS was founded in 1997, the number of homeless pets killed in Chicago has been reduced by 71% – a testament to the organization's dedication to ending the practice. Last year alone, PAWS found homes for 5,952 homeless pets and performed spay and neuter surgeries on many more. Part of the PAWS program includes providing free and low-cost spay/neuter procedures and vaccinations to under-resourced families and neighborhoods, along with humane education. PAWS is consistently rated as being in one of the top 1% of charities in the nation byCharity Navigator, an independent evaluator, making it a great place to get volunteer experience.
Stray Rescue – St. Louis, Mo.
With over 350 companion animals in its shelter system, Stray Rescue relies heavily on volunteers to keep things running smoothly. There are opportunities to walk the shelter dogs, take dogs jogging or hiking, participate in fundraising and adoption events and even foster an animal yourself.
Santa Fe Animal Shelter Humane Society – Santa Fe, N.M.
The Santa Fe Animal Shelter & Humane Society cares for more than 5,500 lost, stray or injured animals annually. Because of this, Santa Fe has effectively become a no-kill community. The largest animal shelter and care facility in northern New Mexico, the Santa Fe Animal Shelter is located on a beautiful 100-acre campus with incredible views and public, off-leash dog parks. There are more than 150 active volunteers who walk the dogs and socialize with the animals, and the shelter offers one-time volunteer visit programs for groups and individuals that want to get an up-close and personal look at animal sheltering in this one-of-a-kind environment.
Sanctuary One at Double Oak Farm – Jacksonville, Ore.
While many volunteers are dedicated to helping animals, often the reverse situation happens: The animals end up helping the volunteer. Sanctuary One at Double Oak Farm understands this and brings animals and people together for "mutual healing." Volunteers work on a real farm, where they learn how to treat animals humanely and how the environment can be improved through organic and permaculture-inspired farming practices. The farm provides a safe, loving home to rescued farm animals and house pets while helping people in need get some fresh air and hands-on learning experiences through Care Farming.