[email protected]   |   (508) 853-0030   |   Open by Appointment Only


Every animal deserves a chance. At WARL, we provide the chance for every animal to find a loving family.





Looking for a way to help the animals? We offer numerous ways for you to make a huge impact for WARL & the animals.


Here at WARL, we are committed to providing the highest quality animal services to you. 


We’ve been around for over 110 years providing the best in animal care.


They need us. We need you. Volunteer.

The shelter’s doors have remained open for a century due to the financial contributions and efforts of the residents of Worcester County. We can’t thank our volunteers enough for all they do.

Animals are in WARL 24 hours a day / 365 days a year. The animals are fed twice a day or more. Their cages/kennels are cleaned at least once a day. Medication and treatment are given to sick and ill animals as prescribed. In short every animal’s needs are met whenever that animal needs us. WARL’s dedicated employees come to the shelter during blizzards, work by candlelight and flashlight during power outages, return on their own time to treat a sick animal or meet a policeman with a stray dog at 2:00 in the morning.

Volunteers and employees come to a shelter because they love animals. They want to be with them, play with them and cuddle them, because it’s fun and makes us happy. It’s a lot of work, most of which is cleaning up after the animals. The reality is that animals can’t feed themselves or clean up after themselves. They need people to do that. They need you.


What are your skills?

  • Do you have a marketing background? Join our fundraising efforts.
  • Are you good at public speaking?
  • Are you handy? There are always construction projects around the shelter.
  • Do you have computer hardware or software skills?


Do you have another skill that you’d like to share? Fill out and submit an email to tell us how you can help us at the shelter. Email [email protected] for more information.


Interested in caring for shelter animals in your own home?

Join the Foster Program & volunteer without leaving the comfort of your own home!

The foster program is an extraordinary way for individuals and families to help animals. Foster parents provide love, care and attention to animals that need the comfort of a home for a variety of reasons. Click here to learn all about our Foster Program and how you can help!


Becoming a Volunteer

Worcester Animal Rescue League is a non-profit animal shelter that is cared for by a committed staff of paid employees and volunteers. WARL commonly needs volunteers to help with everything from animal care to general office support; from staffing special events to working on creative projects. Whether it’s caring for the shelter animals, training dogs or applying your writing talents, communication skills, graphic design, or love of paperwork, we have numerous and meaningful ways for you to volunteer at the Worcester Animal Rescue League.



  • Volunteers must be 18 years old to work at the shelter.
  • Be self-motivated, mature, sensitive, dependable and compassionate team players.
  • Meet the following physical expectations: be able to squat, bend, twist, lift or stand for long periods. The work environment at WARL includes animals, cleaning solutions, peanut butter, various foods, outdoor elements and more.
  • Understand volunteering at an animal shelter is not playing with puppies and kittens. The majority of your time will be cleaning up after the animals – washing dishes and litter boxes, doing laundry, sweeping, etc.


Becoming a WARL volunteer takes only a few steps. Here’s how to get started:

1. Fill out the application here.

We ask for a one-time $10 donation to join the volunteer program. This donation helps fund the supplies (name badges, dog walking harnesses, etc.) essential for the volunteer program. (You can also mail or bring in the form with your $10 donation 12 to 4 any day of the week. Please note, this donation is non-refundable and does not guarantee placement into the program.

2. You can send your donation here.

3. Once your application and donation are received you will be placed on a waiting list. An orientation email will then be sent followed by a schedule for training.


Click here to see a full description of the Volunteer Positions, descriptions, requirements and schedule: Volunteer Jobs, Decriptions & Schedules



Worcester Animal Rescue League (WARL) is a non-profit shelter funded completed by donations. Our organization uses paid staff and volunteers to care for the animals. Our normal hours of operation is 12-4 pm daily but our need for volunteers is from 8:00 to 5:00pm seven days a week (and then some!). The animals need care every day, even on holidays and snowstorms. Here are a few frequently asked questions to help you better under what WARL needs.

How old do I have to be to help?

Any age can help! Volunteers looking to directly handle animals must be at least 18 years of age. Insurance regulations allow teenagers 16 and 17 years old to volunteer at the shelter (without directly handling animals) if a parent or guardian works with them.

What types of activities are available for volunteering?

The list is endless and hard to define. The most popular and common needs are cleaning the animals in the morning (8-11am) and afternoon (2:30-4:30pm), help wash laundry and dishes, and dog walking. Other activities include office and clerical work, errand-running, general housekeeping, landscaping, event participation, fundraising, community outreach, and so much more. All volunteers attend the specific training required for their volunteer position.

I can't give my time right now, but would like to make a donation. How do I go about doing this?

Donations provide the support necessary to care for the animals at WARL. If you would like to make a financial contribution, please visit www.worcesterarl.org/donate – There you will find the link to make a donation online. Donations may also be mailed in, with the check made out to Worcester Animal Rescue League, 139 Holden Street, Worcester, MA 01606

If you would prefer to give an in-kind donation of used or new animal supplies, please review our wish list. Our animals are always in need of cat and dog food, cat litter, new or gently used dog toys, blankets, cleaning supplies, or any of the other items on the list. Donations may be dropped off at any time

Is there a dress code for volunteers?

Yes. Volunteers are given a volunteer name tag at their first shift. Volunteers are asked to wear their name badge at all times. We ask that our volunteers wear comfortable, long pants or longer shorts and closed-toe shoes (ideally sneakers or boots). Apparel that is not recommended are: dresses/skirts, low-cut tank tops, clothing with offensive messages or have the potential to be revealing. Flip flops or sandals are not permitted while working at the shelter. Dress code may vary for special events.

Can I catch anything from the shelter pets? Should I worry about taking an illness home to my pet?

The risk of spreading or catching an illness from a shelter animal is rare. During an animal’s stay at WARL they’re given parasite prevention so they stay bug-free and healthy. If an animal shows signs of illness, disease or parasite infection, they treated accordingly, however just like in humans, most illnesses and infections are most contagious before symptoms show. To keep yourself, your pet and the shelter pets safe, always be sure to wash your hands, especially after every interaction with an animal. The easiest way to keep your pet safe is to keep them current on their vaccines, particularly the Rabies, Distemper, and Bordatella (kennel cough) vaccines, and to keep them on parasite prevention. Bring any concerns to your veterinarian, or ask our shelter staff. Volunteers generally do not care for unvaccinated or sick animals.

Do you accept court-ordered community service hours?

In certain circumstances we do accept court-ordered community service volunteer hours. These hours are not part of our regular volunteer program. Please contact us to find out more information on this opportunity.

Can I use my phone or listen to an iPod or MP3 player while volunteering?

We would like for volunteers to focus all of their attention on the animals or the job they’re assigned. Phone usage should only be for emergency purposes

Can I adopt a pet?

Absolutely! Talk to the staff if you fall in love with a pet, and read our adoption policies.

I'm interested in fostering, can I be a foster parent, too?

Absolutely! Visit our foster program page and then contact us to learn more.

*Please note that the volunteer program is highly competitive and submission of an application does not guarantee placement.