Essential Capabilities

Volunteering to help animals is extremely rewarding but can also present some challenges. Below are the essential abilities a volunteer must possess in order to safely participate in our volunteer program.


  • Ability to see to move safely throughout the building, distinguish animal body language, and read posted instructions
  • Ability to hear verbal or animal warnings, such as growling or hissing
  • Ability to stand and/or walk for significant periods of time
  • Ability to walk/ambulate unaided on varied surfaces
  • Ability to bend and squat in order to leash/harness, access, and/or pick up an animal or supplies
  • High level of manual dexterity to leash/harness animals
  • Ability to cope with loud environment due to animal noises and other equipment
  • Ability to work in the presence of peanut butter, cat/dog/small animal dander, and cleaning chemicals


  • Ability to effectively communicate verbally
  • Ability to understand, remember, and follow both verbal and written instructions and procedures
  • Basic reading, writing, and communication skills
  • Ability to recognize potentially hazardous situations
  • Ability to understand and safeguard against the risk of exposure to animal bites and zoonotic diseases such as ringworm
  • Ability, once trained, to work independently* with minimal supervision
    • *If lacking the ability to work independently, must be able to work alongside a trained parent, guardian, or assigned aid in an appropriate job, as determined by the shelter leadership.


  • Ability to handle constructive criticism
  • Ability to remain calm and maintain a positive attitude
  • Ability to cope in a highly emotionally charged environment and with situations such as euthanasia decisions