Children and pets are a natural pairing. Many of us fondly remember our furry childhood friends: the beloved cat who slept only in your bed, or the dog who was waiting for you every day after school. Childhood is a time for whimsy and wonder, and the bond between kids and their pets is certainly one of the most magical things a child can experience. However, it is also important for children to learn about the responsibility that accompanies pet guardianship.
At the Richmond SPCA we believe that every life is precious. The life of a homeless cat or dog has just as much inherent value as that of a beloved pet. We hope that this philosophy will continue to guide our community indefinitely. The Richmond SPCA recognizes that engaging children and teens in animal sheltering is the key to future success in animal welfare and advocacy in Richmond and beyond.
If you have been wondering if your animal-loving child could volunteer at the Richmond SPCA the answer is a resounding “Yes!”. Volunteers must be 14 or older to volunteer independently (without a parent or guardian). Youth volunteers 7 or older may volunteer alongside their parents or guardians.
The first step in starting the process of becoming a volunteer is to attend one of our volunteer information sessions. These sessions are currently being offered 3 times each month. During this informational meeting, an overview of our organization and volunteer needs is provided for potential volunteers who may then supply information about their skills and interests to apply to become active Richmond SPCA volunteers.
Our volunteer needs are numerous and varied. Volunteers are an important part of every department at the Richmond SPCA.
For the budding veterinarian or veterinary technician, we have two volunteer shifts in our Clinic for Compassionate Care. The spay/neuter dismissal assistant will help our clinic staff to get the clinic space clean and ready for the next day's surgeries. The clinic clerical helper can assist our clinic receptionists with filing and paperwork. We also have a position working in the shelter’s treatment room: clinic/meds help. This shift involves helping our clinic and medical staff with clerical work and some direct animal contact.
For cat-loving kids, we have a morning kitty calming job, an afternoon p.m. poop patrol and a kitten nursery which sometimes needs help during the day. Kitty calming is perfect for parent and child volunteer teams as you can brush and play with the cats during this cleaning shift. P.M. poop patrollers help our staff in the afternoons with litter box scooping, providing fresh water, and spot cleaning. Kitten nursery is a daycare for bottle-fed kittens in our foster care program. During kitten season we host this daycare for our working foster parents. They drop the kittens off in the morning, pick them up in the evening and our volunteers take care of the feeding and cleaning necessary to keep the kittens happy and healthy. If you and your child have never bottle fed kittens before, we can give you a brief training session on neonatal kitten care.
For kids who don’t mind getting their hands dirty, we have a plethora of cleaning shifts in various areas of our humane center. We also need help with laundry every day.
For dog-loving children, we have several volunteer shifts to help our staff care for our canines as they await adoption. The afternoon waterer ensures that all of our pets have their water bowls topped off at the end of the day. This is a great shift for a parent-child team because you get to meet so many sweet dogs in a short amount of time and the pooches surely appreciate the affection. On Saturday, the kong stuffing shift prepares food-filled toys for the dogs to enjoy throughout the week. All children can accompany a parent during dog walking.
Many teenagers aged 16 and older are required to put in a number of volunteer hours for their schools’ service-learning programs. The Richmond SPCA recognizes this and opens up most of our volunteer jobs to those students. Teenagers 16 and older can work independently in most of the aforementioned shifts. They can also act as adoption greeters, welcoming the public to the adoption lobby and assisting our adoption staff during peak adoption times. Sixteen year olds are also eligible to work independently with our dogs as dog walkers and as representatives at our offsite adoption events.
Volunteering at the Richmond SPCA can help your child engage in a community working for a better tomorrow for animals and people. The first step to get started as a volunteer is to visit us online and sign up for a New Volunteer Information Session. Please visit the volunteer page of our website at www.richmondspca.org/volunteer or contact Alison Carlin, Manager of Volunteers and Programs, at [email protected] to learn more.
Alex Lane is the volunteer and programs assistant at the Richmond SPCA. To read the biographies of our regular bloggers, please click here. Before posting a comment, please review our comment guidelines. Please note that our comment policy requires a first and last name to be used as your screen name.