Become a Volunteer

Why Join Us?
  • Make a real difference and improve the lives of shelter animals.
  • Connect with your community, meet like-minded people and expand your network.
  • Free kitten and puppy cuddles.
  • Stay physically healthy with dog walking!

QUALIFICATIONS
  • Ages 16+ may volunteer independently.
  • Ages 12-15 must apply for Junior Volunteering with a guardian.
  • All volunteers must commit to a minimum of 4 hours per month for 6 months.
  • Required to complete a volunteer orientation.
  • Must follow all shelter policies and protocols.
  • Customer service is a requirement of all volunteer roles, as you may need to interact with potential volunteers. Volunteers must always communicate professionally.
  • Most volunteer roles require volunteers to lift and carry up to 20 pounds, reach and lift, possess vision abilities including close vision, distance vision, and depth perception, and speak to customers, employees and other volunteers.
  • We do not offer court-ordered or diversion program volunteering, due to liability conflicts. This includes any volunteering that has been ordered, recommended, or required by a parole officer, judge, teen court, halfway housing, juvenile detention center, etc.
  • Volunteers that can dedicate time on weekday afternoons are highly needed!
PLEASE BE AWARE that the SFAHS is a busy working environment, where pet allergens, cleaning agents and high noise levels exist. Critters may jump on you, leave muddy paw prints, and could scratch or bite. Although not all jobs require hands-on involvement with shelter animals, you will almost certainly be working near dogs, cats, and other small animals.

HOW DO YOU BECOME A VOLUNTEER?
  1. APPLICATION. Volunteer applications will be live on our website once we reopen the program to new applicants in June. You must fill out the application thoughtfully and in its entirety to be considered.  
  2. PROCESSING & APPROVAL. Please allow 4-7 business days for approval. Your application will be submitted to the volunteer coordinator. If you are approved, you will be contacted to set up a time to attend an informational session. If you are not approved, you will be contacted as well. We receive many applications each day and will process as quickly as we can. If you have not heard back about your application after 3-4 weeks, please reach out to our volunteer coordinator.
  3. INFORMATIONAL SESSION. This will include a tour and overview of the general expectations of being a SFAHS volunteer, to make sure that volunteering is the right fit for you! You can expect this informational session to last about 1 hour and is scheduled once you have an approved application. You will then schedule a hands-on training session to complete your training. 
  4. HANDS-ON TRAINING. You must complete a hands-on training session to be considered a registered volunteer. You will receive your name badge and your volunteer punch-in number at this point. This training will include information and demonstrations on animal handling and safety guidelines. Hands-on trainings generally last about 1 hour - 2 hours depending on how many areas you are being trained in. These training sessions may need to be scheduled over multiple days.
    Depending on your area of interest and ability you may be trained in one or many of the following areas: Dog walking, cat socialization, laundry, small animal socialization, or shelter crew.
    Once you have completed dog walking training and if you meet the requirements for the special volunteer programs you may also receive training for bath buddies, dog training, or play yard supervising. 
  5. VOLUNTEER! Welcome to the SFAHS Volunteer Program! If you have any questions while you are volunteering, we are here to answer those for you. Don't be afraid to introduce yourself to the staff and ask for help.

GENERAL EXPECTATIONS
Each year, more than 400 volunteers, with a wide variety of backgrounds, donate more than 30,000 hours of service. They give hands-on care to animals, help us raise much-needed funds, educate our community, assist our staff at the shelter, provide support, and more. SFAHS volunteers report a deep sense of satisfaction in contributing to improving the lives of our rescued animals while working alongside others who desire to create a better future for all animals.
SFAHS provides training for all volunteer positions, so no prior experience is required. Whether walking dogs, helping match people with potential pets, or helping to make an event successful, you can be a part of the life-saving work we do at SFAHS.
  • Dedicated volunteers of all ages help make the shelter run each day, so it is important that you get your minimum of 4 hours each month.
  • While people come to SFAHS because they love animals, volunteers must be able to work well with other people. Our shelter isn't just about the animals - it's about people helping animals and our community. 
  • For everyone's protection, volunteers must use the safe animal handling techniques taught in their orientation. 
  • All tasks, from cleaning kennels and handling animals to stuffing envelopes and assisting at events, have specific procedures. Volunteers must adhere to these produces unless a staff member directs them otherwise. 
  • Once volunteers are comfortable and know their routines, they are expected to volunteer with minimal supervision. Following through on volunteer tasks ensures that animals are receiving the best possible care. Staff is always available to answer questions or assist if needed.

WHAT DO VOLUNTEERS DO?
Volunteers support nearly every area of our work. Together, we are creating a safe haven. It is our goal that every pet in the shelter gets a minimum of 20 minutes of human contact daily. Studies have shown that 20 minutes of human contact daily can make a difference in the life of a pet. It decreases the pet's anxiety, which can cut down stress-related illnesses and make them 'show' better to potential adopters. Your help in the shelter can and does, make a world of difference for the animals.

Shelter Crew
Help with all aspects of the shelter including cleaning, giving out toys and treats, laundry, washing of dishes and litter boxes, and more!
Morning Dog Walking
Morning dog walkers come to the shelter starting at 7am and help our kennel staff take each dog for their morning walk before they get breakfast. As you walk the dogs, kennel staff are cleaning their kennels and moving them to new ones. You will be trained to walk the dogs in a specific way, that every volunteer and staff member is taught for consistency and to help with training.
Afternoon & Evening Dog Walking
These dog walkers come to the shelter during our public hours and walk the dogs to keep them active and socialized. You will be trained to walk the dogs in a specific way, that every volunteer and staff member is taught for consistency and to help with training.
Small Animal Socialization
Work with the small animals so they stay socialized while at the shelter.
Cat Socialization
Work with the cats so they stay socialized while at the shelter.
Matchmakers
Every volunteer also has the potential to be a matchmaker! This means helping pre-screened adopters find the perfect animal for their home.
Event Hopper
You will help with event preparations including mailings, donations, errands and distribution of marketing materials.
Shelter Ambassadors**
Ambassadors are volunteers who help us at our public events! You are the face of our volunteers and representatives of the Sioux Falls Area Humane Society. It is required that you know basic facts about the shelter, are reliable and have a positive attitude. Events happen throughout the year. Some events may require extra training sessions.
Bath Buddies**
This program requires an extra training session with one of our volunteer groomers. The groomers that lead these classes are professionally trained. Those that participate in the Bath Buddies program will be trained to help with basic grooming including baths and brushing.
Dog Training**
This program requires an extra training session with our staff dog trainer. The dog training program is in its second year at SFAHS! The program helps the dogs learn basic manners, good leash walking skills and other good behaviors to help them get adopted faster! This is the base training method we use at the shelter and apply it as an overall training. We modify as needed for each dog's learning style and behavior. Our staff trainer is the only handler that leads this class, for consistency.
Play Yard Supervisor**
Once you've completed dog walking training, you are able to consider being a play yard supervisor. Most afternoons, the volunteers help facilitate and lead a round-robin play yard time for all the dogs. As the supervisor, you will help the other volunteer dog walkers know who needs to be rotated out and stay with the dogs at all times in the play yards. Extra training may be required. 

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(**These positions may require extra training sessions)



You must fill out your application thoughtfully and in full to be considered.
For questions, please see our Volunteer FAQ.
ON BEHALF OF THE STAFF AND THE ANIMALS, THANK YOU, WOOF AND MEOW!