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 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.
  • 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 WARL_Vol_Application.pdf

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. Send in your application, or send it to the shelter at 139 Holden Street, Worcester, MA 01606.

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.

Volunteer Position Descriptions:

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

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.

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 – 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: 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.