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.

  • 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. 
  • Must be 16+ years old to volunteer independently.
  • Required to complete a volunteer Information session and Hands-on Training session, and the Introduction To Enrichment Class. 


  • Volunteers are expected to make their own schedule. SFAHS does not schedule volunteers. Volunteers are responsible for making sure they complete their monthly hours. 
  •  Volunteers are expected to do tasks with minimal supervision ( After being trained). 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
  • 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, lawyer,  halfway housing, juvenile detention center, etc
  • 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.  Volunteering is not recommended if you have animal allergies. 
  • 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
  • Customer service is a requirement of all volunteer roles, as you may need to interact with potential adopters and volunteers

HOW DO YOU BECOME A VOLUNTEER? - New Program Coming Summer 2023 - details below! 

1. APPLICATION. Volunteer applications are submitted online and 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.  Notice: We are currently unable to accept volunteer applications at this time. We will start accepting volunteer applications  Mid-July 2023.

2. PROCESSING & APPROVAL. Please allow 4-7 business days for approval.  If you are approved, you will be contacted via email to set up a time to attend an informational session. We receive many applications each day and will process as quickly as we can. If you have not heard back about your application after 10 days , please reach out. 

3. INFORMATIONAL SESSION. This group class 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. Some applicants decide that volunteering isn't for them after this session, and that's okay! You should always make sure volunteering is a good match with your lifestyle before continuing on.  After the Information session you will be scheduled a hands-on training session.  Completing an Information Session does not make you a registered volunteer. 

4. HANDS-ON TRAINING  You must complete a hands-on training session, and an enrichment session to be considered a registered volunteer.  Hands-on training will include information and demonstrations on animal handling and safety guidelines. Hands-on training generally last about 1 hour - 2 hours depending on which areas you are being trained in.  After Hands-on Training you still need to complete the Introduction to Enrichment Session before you will be able to volunteer. 

5. ENRICHMENT TRAINING:  Once you have completed a hands-on training session you will be able to sign up for the Introduction to Enrichment Class. Once the Introduction to Enrichment Class is completed then you can volunteer at the shelter! 

SFAHS as different enrichment classes meant to help reduce stress, train, and help with handling. Volunteers will be able to sign up for various classes to earn Badges. These Badges allow volunteers to handle different levels of animals. 

 Green Level Volunteer-

These volunteers have completed:
  • Hands-On Training,
  • Introduction to Enrichment Class.

This is the most basic level.  
Required for volunteers wanting to interact with Cats, Small Animals, and Dogs 
 Orange level Volunteers:

These volunteer have completed: 
  •  at least 8 hours volunteering in the "green level" 
  •  have completed multiple classes in enrichment

These volunteers are now  able to walk our harder-to-handle dogs or do enrichment training with Cats.

 Blue Level Volunteers

These Volunteers have completed:
  • At least 24 hours in volunteering in the "Orange Level
  • Have Shadowed the Front Office  staff, Kennel Staff, and tour guides
  • Have completed  Multiple Advanced Classes in Enrichment and Training

These volunteers are ambassadors for the shelter.

Dog volunteers allowed to take animals to off-site events, Help with Dog  Training programs, Dog introductions, Behavior modification programs and more!  
Cat Volunteers are allowed to help with matchmaking, and assisting Front office with Adopters 

6. VOLUNTEER! Welcome to the SFAHS Volunteer Program! Volunteers are expected to make their own schedule. SFAHS does not schedule volunteers. Volunteers are responsible for making sure they complete their monthly hours. 

Volunteers support nearly every area of our work. 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. Click each section below for more information on the assignments. 

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.  These volunteers do not handle any animals, but help us keep the shelter clean!
You can help with trail maintenance, mowing, weed picking, poop clean up, cleaning windows, and general Handy-Man jobs! 
Dog Walking

Dog walkers come to the shelter starting at 7am and help our kennel staff take each dog out for Potty breaks and enrichment training. 

Morning breaks are usually between 7am- 10am  as kennel staff is cleaning and the animals are getting breakfast. Afternoon breaks  is 12pm-3pm, and Evening Breaks are 3 pm-6pm.  Dog walkers are welcome to come at anytime to help with breaks. 

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.

Volunteers that complete more levels of Enrichment Training will be able to walk different levels of dogs.

For example, volunteers that have completed: 

Basic hands on training + Green level enrichment are " Green level  
volunteers", They can only walk dogs with the Green Dot on their cards. 

Orange level volunteers have completed more training, therefore can walk dogs that are harder to handle, the Orange-Dot dogs along with the easier Green Dot Dogs. 

 Blue level volunteers are the most advanced, so they may walk orange, green and may be assigned to work with fearful, hard to walk,  or behavior modification dogs. 

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. 

Basic hands on training + Green level enrichment are " Green level  volunteers",  These volunteers can handle most cats in Cat adopt

Orange level volunteers have completed more training, therefore can handle and do training with cats that are harder to handle, You also get an inside look into cat personalities.  

 Blue level volunteers are the most advanced,  These volunteer can help the front office matchmaking with adopters!  
Event Hopper
You will help with event preparations including mailings, donations, errands and distribution of marketing materials. Any volunteer can sign up to help at events!
Shelter Ambassadors**
Ambassadors are volunteers who help us at our public events, or outings when a staff member is not available.  You are 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. If the volunteer wishes to take a dog out of the shelter for enrichment they must complete Blue Level ( Most Advanced) Training.
Bath Buddies**
Are you a groomer that wishes to donate your time?  We are interested! 
Dog Training**
This program requires you to be a " Blue Level" Volunteer.   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. 

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(**These positions may require extra training sessions)