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Q: Volunteering

October 25, 2009 | By Ssilberman | 4 answers | Expired: 1865 days ago

My girls are 12 and love animals. They would like to volunteer at the Randolph Municipal Pound. Is this possible? I am willing to take them over on Saturdays to help out. I think it will help them feel that they are contributing to so many homeless animals that they feel helpless about.

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Amber
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Oct 26, 2009

if they do let her, there will certainly be waivers to sign.

there's been some good advice so far. i've been to our local animal control twice in the past week looking for 2 of our feral cats that are M.I.A., and i can honestly say, i can't imagine taking a child into that. beyond seeing the same animals passed over and knowing that unwanted pets are being put down...there are some animals that are mean, though i'm sure they would keep your daughter from them. and then some show up in pretty rough shape, which can be disturbing, even for adults. and then there's a question of the staff. you'd hope that everyone who works at an animal shelter would be caring and compassionate towards animals, and most are...but not all. before bringing them there, you should definitely see the worst of it for yourself and meet the people who work there so you know what they'd be getting into, and then use your best judgment in deciding if you think your child is up to it. and be prepared to have some really hard conversations. seeing so much of what happens when people are so neglectful of their pets...it makes you want answers that just aren't there.

many local animal welfare groups will have no-kill shelters that are a little...saner, i suppose. they're often cleaner and more comfortable...more like what a lot of people have in mind when they think of helping out homeless pets. if the shelter option doesn't pan out...i volunteer with a spay / neuter group in our area. though it's not really common, we have had minors volunteer with us before. on the plus side: it's low risk. volunteers don't even handle the cats, except with them in cages or crates. euthanasia is pretty rare at "spay days"...on very rare occasion an animal might react badly to anesthetic and not survive, and when dealing with feral cats, there may be times when a cat that is very sickly or with leukemia might be put down. in any case...low risk of euthanasia would be a plus. you almost certainly won't see the same faces twice, though you still get a sense of the magnitude of the pet overpopulation crisis. you get that when someone brings in several generations of animals to be fixed all at once (happens a lot here), or when someone brings in lots of kittens and you consider how many more cats there would be if they *didn't* get them all fixed, or when you see so many ferals but know that there are lots more, because there are just as many at every spay day. there's a lower risk of seeing anything too gruesome. and at the end of the day, you know that every pet you've seen that day is going to have a better life than they otherwise would have, just because they've been fixed. it's a thought.

good luck!

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Jillian
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Oct 26, 2009

it's dependent on the shelter. some allow kids, some don't, and some have certain hours for them.
one thing to consider is how aware your daughters are of shelters. when i was 12 i wanted to volunteer, but now i can't even go into one. i would ask the pound if they are no-kill when you ask about children volunteering. though your kids won't assist in euthanizing animals, they will still be conscious of it happening. helping out at a shelter sounds like fun when kids think about all the animals they're helping, but the reality of it sets in when you go and see all the unwanted animals in cages. it's heart wrenching, and the longer you're there, the more you see the same faces being passed by. though i think kids should be educated on all of this, i also see how hard it could be going in w/one perspective and leaving w/another.
another idea would be to find a local wildlife rehabilitation center. though some animals have to be euthanized, they usually have a good turnover rate where the animals can be released back into the wild. plus it's really exciting to see a baby deer or hawk or owl up close in person. you may also want to consider fostering, this can be through shelters or wildlife rehabilitation, and it really gives the kids a hands-on experience that teaches them immense responsibility and empathy b/c it's not for just a couple of hours over the weekend.

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Katie M.
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Oct 26, 2009

I'm not sure about that specific shelter's policy, but usually it's fine as long as they have an adult with them.

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Anonymous
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Anonymous

Oct 25, 2009

You would have to check with the pound first, but I'm pretty sure that most shelters will let children help socialize the animals as long as there is an adult there with them. Very good idea for your girls, they will love it. The only thing I might recommend is you might want to think about helping out a no-kill shelter because it may upset them to see dogs that are going to be put to sleep. It still depresses me. Poor dogs, they don't deserve to die that way.

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