Humane Rescue Alliance

Advocating for animal-friendly communities. Strengthening the animal-human bond.

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Staff Favorite: Calabazita!

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Volunteer FAQ

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Humane Rescue Alliance

Q.  What kinds of things can I do as a volunteer?
A.  Lots of different things! As a volunteer, you can assist with the care and training of our animals, help at our adoption and fundraising events, assist at our medical facilities, and much more. Check out our volunteer application for those 18 and older to see available volunteer roles.


Q. What is the time commitment as a volunteer?

A. Volunteers must commit to at least six months with us. Volunteers at our physical locations commit to eight hours per month. It is preferable that you come at the same time each week. If an applicant can be available 48 hours over no less than two months, we will consider that applicant Volunteers who are exclusively offsite volunteers (special events, adoption events, etc.) commit to eight hours every six months. Check out our volunteer application for those 18 and older to see all the available volunteer roles.


Q. I am not sure I can commit to eight hours each month. Are there other ways to volunteer?

Volunteers that assist exclusively with special events are only required to complete eight hours every six months. They also receive training onsite at an event. If your time is limited, that may be the best fit for you! You can also apply to the group volunteer program for a one-time service experience.


Q. When can I start?

A. Once you fill out an application and pay the $25 application fee or fill out the scholarship request, your application will be reviewed. Depending on your interests, availability and our current needs, you may be invited to sign up for an orientation. Usually, a new applicant will receive that invitation within a week and orientations are generally scheduled every two weeks. After orientation, you will be asked to fill out a profile in our online volunteer system. You will be able to select three areas of interest initially and up to one physical location. All roles require training, with M.A.R.T. volunteers receiving email instruction. Once you’ve completed any necessary training, you can begin volunteering!


Q. Why is there an application fee?

A. The nominal application fee (or scholarship application) increases the likelihood that the significant staff time taken to process, onboard, and train someone will result in active volunteerism with us. 


Q. How do I schedule my volunteer shifts?

A. New volunteers receive information about scheduling in our online system, Volgistics, at orientation. Volunteers are required to log their volunteer hours.


Q. What should I wear to volunteer in the adoption centers?

A. Wear long pants and flat, closed-toe, waterproof shoes. Please wear clothes that you don't mind getting dirty! Volunteers at our physical locations also receive a volunteer T-shirt and nametag they must wear at all times while volunteering.


Q. Is there an age requirement for volunteers?

A. To volunteer through our general program, you must be 18 years of age or older. 


Q. What can young people under 18 years of age do to help out?

A. Young people ages 12 – 17 are encouraged to complete one or more of these off-site projects. After completing the tasks offsite, they can be delivered to our 71 Oglethorpe NW adoption center and you may even request a signature for Student Service Learning paperwork (directions below).


Young people can gather a group for a group volunteer project. These include fundraising to sponsor our most vulnerable animals, making enrichment toys at our Oglethorpe location, handing out the toys and socializing animals during a private tour (while the adoption center is closed to the public), and selecting animals to sponsor and promote for more speedy adoption.


Host a supply drive for us.


Teenagers 13 – 17 years old may apply to be considered for our Teenage Ambassadors In Leadership & Service (TAILS) Program. The TAILS program is offered three times a year with sessions in Fall, Spring, & Summer. This unique opportunity allows students to volunteer without a parent or guardian, a rarity within animal welfare. We do this by focusing on leadership-level service and eliminating animal handling tasks, which require the accompaniment of a parent or guardian.


Q. Need SSL hours for your offsite project?

A. To receive a signature on student service learning (SSL) or other student service paperwork, carefully follow the instructions below. It is your responsibility to know if this project will be an accepted source of SSL hours. We cannot sign forms that assert we were physically present for your service.

  • Complete one or more of these off-site projects.
  • Complete your SSL paperwork.  Leave only the signature area blank. Our EIN is 53-0219724.
  • Email your completed form to fkoleszar@humanerescuealliance.org. You may attach the form as a .pdf file or send us a picture of the form (png or jpg formats are most common for this and either works fine). Please include any deadlines, but allow us at least 48 hours to respond.
  • Place your items in a bag. Any type of bag is fine!
  • Write your first initial and last name on the bag in permanent marker.
  • Leave your items in the clear bin marked “SSL Drop-Off” in the lobby of 71 Oglethorpe Street, NW, Washington, DC 20011. We are open Tuesday- Sunday, 12 – 7 pm.
  • We will return the form to you via email once we have verified the number of items you made and the hours donated are correct. Please understand we are very busy with our animals and potential adopters and cannot sign at time of drop-off.

Thanks for understanding that signing SSL forms is at staff discretion. We aren’t able to grant hours for items that were made improperly or will be unsafe for the animals. By following the above directions, you ensure your contribution will be of the maximum help to the animals.


Q.  How can my group volunteer?

A.  Visit our group volunteer page to get started. We customize meaningful, impactful experiences for group volunteers at our adoption centers.

If volunteering at an adoption center doesn't suit your group's needs, you can do a supplies drive, sponsor an animal, foster an animal, or become an event partner. Our off-site volunteer projects page also has great ideas for volunteer projects you can do on your own.

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