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.

Requirements:

  • Volunteers must be 18 years old to handle animals at the shelter. 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. (Are you under 16 and want to help? Click here!)
  • Be self-motivated, mature, sensitive, dependable and compassionate team players.
  • Meet the following physical expectations if working directly with the animals: be able to squat, bend, twist, lift or stand for long periods.

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

  1. Fill out the application WARL_Vol_Application.pdf
  2. We ask for a one-time $10 donation (link) 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 (link))Please note, this donation is non-refundable and does not guarantee placement into the program.



  3. Send in your application WARLVolunteer@gmail.com, or send it to the shelter at 139 Holden Street, Worcester, MA 01606.
  4. Once your application and donation is received, you’ll be contacted with the next orientation date.  Volunteers are required to attend a hour-long orientation during which you’ll be given a tour of the building and learn about the program and expectations.

Volunteer Position Descriptions:

Cat Attendant AM Volunteers will work side-by-side with the shelter staff to care for the adoptable cats. This includes handling cats, feeding, handing out toys, cleaning cages, and washing bowls, litter boxes and floors. You’ll be trained on WARL’s cleaning protocol that must be followed to keep cats healthy and comfortable. Attention to detail and cleanliness is a must as you’ll also be expected to help with the upkeep and appearance of the adoption area. Time commitment is 2 hours between 8-10AM. Rubber sole shoes are required.

Cat Attendant PM Similar to the Cat Attendant AM, volunteers will work side-by-side with the shelter staff to care for the adoptable cats. Afternoons are spent cleaning out the cages of cats who have been adopted, tending to dishes and laundry, and afternoon feedings. You’ll be trained on WARL’s cleaning protocol that must be followed to keep cats healthy and comfortable. Attention to detail and cleanliness is a must as you’ll also be expected to help with the upkeep and appearance of the adoption area. Time commitment is 2 hours between 2-4PM. Rubber sole shoes are required.

Kennel Attendant AM Volunteers will work side-by-side with the shelter staff to care for the adoptable dogs. This includes handling dogs, cleaning kennels (scooping poop, picking up bowls, spraying the kennels with cleaners and water), feeding, washing dishes and laundry. You’ll be trained on WARL’s cleaning protocol that must be followed to keep dogs dry, healthy and comfortable. Attention to detail and cleanliness is a must as you’ll also be expected to help with the upkeep and appearance of the adoption area. Time commitment is 2 hours between 8-10AM. This is the most labor-intensive job at the shelter. Rubber boots are recommended because you will be standing in water.

Kennel Attendant PM Similar to the Kennel Attendant AM, volunteers will work side-by-side with the shelter staff to care for the adoptable dogs. Afternoons are spent cleaning out the kennels of dogs who have been adopted, filling water bowls, and cleaning up after the dogs, tending to dishes and laundry, and afternoon feedings. Time commitment is 2 hours between 2-4PM. Rubber boots are recommended because you will be standing in water.

Dog Walking Program Volunteers will walk dogs outside, clean up after the animals and teach basic dog obedience. This program helps lower dogs’ stress levels and lets them enjoy extra time with a person one-on-one. Sturdy shoes and weather appropriate clothing is required.

Behavior Mod Squad Volunteers will help create a bond with dogs who have the most need. Dogs in the Behavior Mod Squad may have never received socialization, attention or love. This program helps lower stress for dogs through mental stimulation while teaching basic obedience and manners. Time commitment is 1-2 hours between 9AM-4PM. Patience, sturdy shoes and weather appropriate clothing is required.

Tailblazer Volunteers will be exercising high energy dogs before the shelter opens to the public. This program allows runners to take a dog out for a 1 to 3 mile jog around WARL’s neighborhood. Volunteers must complete dog handling training and show competency in dog handing before becoming a Tailblazer. Ability to run at least 1 mile is a must. Weather appropriate clothing (for person and dog) is required. Check out this recent Pulse Magazine Article about our Tailblazers program!

Kong Crew Volunteers will provide enrichment for dogs by using Kong puzzle toys. This program gives dogs in kennels mental stimulation during the shelters’ busiest hours.  Volunteers must be able to perform physical work (washing Kongs and dishes, working in kennels, and doing laundry). Volunteer must be able to follow diet restrictions for each dog in the program. Rubber sole shoes are required.

Bubble Team Volunteers will give baths to shelter dogs to keep them clean, healthy, and ready for potential adopters. Time commitment is flexible as needed. Volunteers must complete dog handling training, show competency in dog handling and be able to perform physical work before joining the Bubble Team. Rubber boots are recommended because you will get wet.

Clerical Work Volunteers will assist staff with administrative duties, phone calls and paperwork for donations and clinics. Time commitment is flexible as needed and varies with the task. Volunteers must be able to multi-task and clarify any questions before starting/finishing a task.

Weekend Ambassador Volunteers will help direct weekend visitors traffic and provide appropriate paperwork when needed. The Weekend Ambassador gives the potential adopters and shelter visitors the customer service needed for the organization to succeed. Weekend Ambassadors allow staff members to focus on meeting with adopters. Time commitment is 2 hours between 12-2PM on Saturdays and Sundays. Weekend Ambassadors often give visitors their first impression of WARL, therefore, volunteers must complete public relations training prior to becoming a Weekend Ambassador. WARL t-shirt and nametag will be provided to you; rubber sole shoes required.

Drop-in Duties Volunteers can help in a variety of ways; most common drop-in duties are washing dishes, washing laundry, organizing and putting away donations, and running errands (bottle/can return, animal transports, and donation pick up or drop off). These tasks help the shelter stay clean and organized. Time commitment for other activities varies depending on the task. Volunteers must be able to perform physical work (bending, reaching, and carrying up to 40 pounds). Rubber sole shoes are required.


Frequently Asked Questions:

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.

Q: How old do I have to be to help?

A: 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. Under 16? Here’s how you can help

Q: What types of activities are available for volunteering?

A: 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.

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

A: 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

Q: Is there a dress code for volunteers?

A: 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.

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

A: 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.

Q: Do you accept court-ordered community service hours?

A: Yes, in certain circumstances we do accept court-ordered community service volunteer hours. These hours are not part of our regular volunteer program. Please click here to find out more information on this opportunity.

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

A: 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

Q: Can I adopt a pet?

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

Q: I’m interested in fostering, can I be a foster parent, too?

A: Absolutely! Visit our foster page and speak with Melanie, the foster coordinator.


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