Can I volunteer with my pet?

Volunteering with your pet is a wonderful way to share the love and joy that animals bring people. Our canine and feline friends have talents and gifts to share, and nothing bonds people more closely than a furry companion. If your cat prefers the comfort of a warm lap or your dog is itching for a job, we’ve found the perfect volunteer opportunities. Check out how you and your pet can reach out and help others in need.

  1. Donate blood. Like people, animals need blood transfusions when they suffer life-threatening illnesses or injuries from an accident. Your pet can become a blood donor and help other animals who have lost too much blood. The blood donation process is relatively simple, takes only a short time, and doesn’t require anesthesia. If your veterinary hospital does not accept blood donations, many university veterinary hospitals and large specialty clinics have blood banks and can store donations. Your pet will likely need a complete health screening by your AAHA-accredited veterinarian before you can register her as a blood donor.
  2. Serve as a reading buddy. A child’s best friend is often a pet who provides unwavering love and support. Reading programs around the country pair children who are struggling to read with canine listeners. The programs have found that a child’s confidence and reading skills markedly improve after reading aloud to a nonjudgmental animal listener, and reading becomes fun and exciting rather than a dreaded, feared activity.
  3. Run for charity. Many nonprofits and businesses now cater to dog owners and their canine companions when organizing charity runs or walks. You should train your pet beforehand to ensure she runs well on a leash at your side. Tangled legs and leashes would spoil the fun.
  4. Become a therapy pet. Doggie kisses and the purring of a happy cat warming your lap can be the perfect therapy. Social pets can provide much-needed comfort and cheer to nursing home and hospital patients. If you think your snuggly pet has love to share, consider undertaking therapy animal training to become certified.
  5. Train your dog to search and rescue. Does your highly intelligent, active, driven, canine companion need a job? Search and rescue training, which can begin during puppyhood, is an excellent way to stimulate your dog mentally and burn off energy, all while saving lives. If you’re a first responder or if your pup has an incredible nose and inexhaustible energy, think about becoming a certified human-canine search and rescue team to help search for missing persons and participate in disaster-relief efforts. Be aware that training is a time-intensive commitment and should not be taken lightly.
  6. Volunteer your house as a foster home. Is your gentle giant of a dog known for mothering pups, or your comforting cat an expert at keeping kittens in line? Animal shelters and rescues are often overrun with kittens and puppies and need help caring for and socializing these young animals. Nothing is more rewarding than knowing you and your pet had a paw in helping a well-mannered puppy or kitten find her forever home. Contact your local rescue organizations and animal shelters to see if you and your pet would make a good foster duo.

 

The benefits of being around pets

Pets bring immeasurable joy and love, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say they benefit people in many other ways, including the following health perks:

  • Decreased blood pressure
  • Decreased cholesterol levels
  • Decreased triglyceride levels
  • Decreased feelings of loneliness
  • Increased opportunities for exercise and outdoor activities
  • Increased opportunities for socialization

Before going to the nursing home or charity run with your pet, ensure she is in good health. Pets can transmit diseases and parasites to people, so a clean bill of health and current vaccination status is necessary before you can volunteer with your pet.

You and your pet can make a difference. Reach out to brighten and enrich your community, while forming an even stronger bond with your furry pal.