Become a Volunteer

Each year, hundreds of 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.

Please carefully read this entire page for a complete understanding of our volunteer program. Please make sure that volunteering at SFAHS is a good fit for you and your schedule before filling out an application! 

  • Due to the amount of training that our volunteers must complete, volunteers must be able to commit to at least 6 months of service.
  • All volunteers must commit to a minimum of 4 hours per month
  • Ages 12-15 must apply for Junior Volunteering with a guardian.
  • Ages 16+ may volunteer independently.
  • Must follow all shelter policies and protocols.
  • Required to complete a volunteer Information session and Hands-on Training sessions
  • 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.


  • 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. 
  • 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.
  • Volunteers are expected to provide enrichment for the animals lives, its not just about getting animals out to potty! We do training, play games, and provide fun to enrich and make the shelter less scary.
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. 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  a minimum of 10 pounds up to 100 Pounds depending on your role, reach and lift, possess vision abilities including close vision, distance vision, and depth perception, and speak to customers, employees and other volunteers. It may take months for an applicant to be trained, dependent on the availability of training sessions. Training is a ongoing activity with new things to learn every week.  


APPLICATION. Volunteer applications must be filled out thoughtfully and in its entirety to be considered.   Due to the high volume of applications we get, not all applications will be accepted. Applications are submitted online.  

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 via email 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 2 weeks, please reach out to our volunteer coordinator.

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. 

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 training 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.

** Notice** it may take an applicant over a month to be fully trained due to high interest and  limited class availability.  Thank you for your patience.  

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.

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. Please be aware that most of the dogs at SFAHS are medium to large sized dogs, you must be physically able to walk dogs that may jump, pull, be new to leashes, or timid.
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. Please be aware that most of the dogs at SFAHS are medium to large sized dogs, you must be physically able to walk dogs that may jump, pull, be new to leashes, or timid.
Small Animal Socialization
Work with the small animals so they stay socialized while at the shelter. Small Animals include:  Rabbits, Guinea Pigs, Rats, Mice, Hamsters, Birds, Lizards, Snakes, Reptiles, and MORE. It is required that you have experience with the breed of animal before interacting. 
Cat Socialization
Work with the cats so they stay socialized while at the shelter.
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.  These volunteers must complete Tour Guide Training,  and volunteer at SFAHS events. 
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 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.

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(**These positions may require extra training sessions)

For questions, please see our Volunteer FAQ.