If you live in Northern Virginia and have been dying to sign up for pet volunteering, you’ve come to the right place. People choose to volunteer at animal shelters for a number of reasons. For example, a young dog lover might want to practice taking care of other dogs before committing to getting one of their own. Some dog lovers just want to see dogs as much as they possibly can, where others may be retired and would like to take up a form of volunteering they know they’ll enjoy in their spare time.
Regardless of your motivations, there are several great options for dog lovers right here in Northern Virginia to do valuable volunteer work alongside man’s best friend.
Fairfax County Animal Shelter
The Fairfax County Animal Shelter provides phenomenal support for pets. It is located on the West Ox road in Fairfax, and helps between four and five thousand dogs every year. The FCAS offers a number of services both online and in person, and is Fairfax County’s only open-access, municipal shelter.
The Fairfax County Animal Shelter’s status as a municipal shelter means it is primarily funded by the government, with open access meaning that citizens can surrender their pets in an accessible manner. Before surrendering a pet here, however, you have to contact them because there is always a high volume of animals who need to be homed: at the moment, there is already an extensive waiting list for animals to be surrendered.
This is a sad reality for dog lovers. There are often understandable reasons for surrendering your animal. For example, a person who is elderly may struggle to look after them. However, too many are sheltered out of boredom or seeing the animal as a nuisance.
Luckily, as a volunteer you can help. The website has a volunteer page where they inform the general public about what volunteers they currently need. Right now they’re not looking for general volunteers, but it’s updated regularly so keep an eye out so you can embark on your dog volunteering career.
Note: they are currently looking for small room volunteers. These are people who have experience handling smaller animals like rabbits and guinea pigs. This is a great way of getting your foot in the door. If you volunteer for this position you can at least go visit the dogs on your break. Moreover, once you’ve been there a while, you’ll definitely be relegated some tasks in the canine section.
Friends of the Fairfax County Animal Shelter
The Friends of the Fairfax County Animal Shelter is a private organization that helps out the Fairfax County animal shelter out of their sheer love for animals. Isn’t it great that people choose to do things like this in their spare time?
Friends of the Fairfax County Animal Shelter partners with the shelter to give support where it’s most needed. The shelter may be government funded, but this doesn’t mean it has an unlimited budget. In fact, government organizations are often much more strictly regulated than private ones, so it must be stressful to try to help all the animals and keep up with the regulations at the same time.
This is where the ‘friends’ come in. They help in a variety of ways. For example, there may be a dog that comes in that has a lovely personality and will easily win people’s hearts. However, they are sick and need costly medical treatment. The shelter’s budget will not stretch to the thousands needed for the medication or operation. The ‘friends’ organization pays for the treatment, and the dog gets homed as soon as it’s fully recovered. Hooray!
The main goal of the ‘friends’ organization is to provide practical and financial support by raising awareness and money for the main shelter. What an excellent idea! They might help the shelter buy new equipment or supplies, help families who foster or adopt a pet to pay for taking care of their new animal, or even fund training for the shelter staff. Basically, wherever there’s a need, the ‘friends’ step in to help!
So, if you’re looking for a place to volunteer in Northern Virginia, there are many ways you can help out the ‘friends’ organization. If you’re looking for a quick and easy way to help, you can donate. Sometimes people are wary of donating to charitable organizations because they’re hesitant about how much money actually goes to the cause. There is no need for this hesitation with regards to the ‘friends’ organization because they actually publish how they spend their money online. In 2015, for example, they spent 8% on administration and fundraising, and 6% on community outreach. This means that 86% of the money they raised actually went to help the shelter animals. This is a phenomenal achievement for a private organization.
Not only this, but their transparency is commendable. They actually show you that they paid for everything the shelter needed and still had eighty thousand dollars left over! This means that they can put this in the money pot for the next year. It’s truly refreshing to see a private organization show their donors where their money goes in such a simple way. Less honest charities would pretend there is nothing left over and pocket it as a profit. It’s clear that the ‘friends’ organization truly has a passion for its work and isn’t in it for the money.
If you want to do something more active than simply donate money, however, you can also help by attending their community events. Go to one of these and try to spark up a conversation with one of the speakers to find out how you can offer your time and volunteer.
Finally, if you’re a pragmatist at heart, you can simply donate to the animal shelter directly. You might say ‘oh but I don’t know what they need’. Well, all you have to do is go to their Amazon wish list page and find out! This is such an innovative idea. It means that you’ll be sending them exactly what they need, instead of dog sweaters in the midst of summer!
A Forever Home Rescue Foundation
A Forever Home Rescue Foundation is the third organization on our list and is a truly top place for dog lovers to volunteer in Northern Virginia. The Foundation is a non-profit dog rescue group operating out of the Northern Virginia/Washington Metropolitan area.
This organization prepares dogs for adoption and does their very best to match dogs and owners together in a way that will be the perfect combination. If you’re a dog lover who doesn’t like exercising for example, they’ll match you with a breed that doesn’t require much walking. They hold adoption events so you can get chatting and find out if they have a dog that suits your lifestyle needs.
On the volunteering end, you can help out in a number of ways. Like the Fairfax County animal shelter, they have an Amazon wish list for equipment and supplies they need. If you’re not sure if you have the time to volunteer in person, this is a click and go method of helping them out in a practical way!
You can also volunteer by dropping them a quick email, foster an animal while it’s waiting for adoption, donate cash, or even donate your vehicle to help them get more dogs homed. The possibilities are endless!
Get Out and Volunteer!
All of the aforementioned dog volunteering ideas are accessible to you in Northern Virginia. If you’re a member of the Chantilly, Centreville, Fairfax, or Alexandria communities these places are easily commutable for you. So what are you waiting for? It’s time for you dog lovers to go help our canine friends where they need it most: in the shelters!