Be a foster family. The pet adoption process can sometimes be lengthy or tricky. At times, there are an abundance of animals in the shelter and foster families help with room for the animals in need. There are other times when an animal may need specific care instructions that would best be handled in a volunteer foster home, rather than in the shelter. That's where your teen can come in. With you as the main supervisor of the teen and animal, your teen can help care for an animal in need until that animal is ready for adoption.
Give the shelter pets attention and exercise. Another volunteer option in shelters and rescues is to play with the animals. Your teen can spend time with cats, dogs, and other animals, as well as give them the exercise they need. Animals need regular exercise and affection to thrive. Volunteers work with staff to learn the proper way to do this for each animal. Being in a cage all the time is not ideal. This is why volunteers who do this for the animals are so important.
Change litter pans, bedding, and perform other cage cleaning duties. This is exactly what it sounds like. Volunteers in this position may be changing litter boxes for cats. They may also be spraying down and scrubbing cages or cleaning up after the dogs. If there are small animals being cared for by the shelter or rescue, this may also entail cleaning out their cages and placing fresh bedding. This may seem like a not-so-fun position, but every little thing helps and is a part of proper animal care.
Feed the animals. The animals in the shelter all need to eat and someone needs to be around to make that happen. Teen volunteers may take on this task once or twice per day. It generally involves cleaning dishes and water bottles and replenishing them with fresh food and water. Teens in this volunteer position may also be doing other things, like cage cleanings or exercising the pets. It depends on each shelter's needs and duty designations.
Speak out. If your teen wants to take a stand and make a difference in other ways, there are plenty of ways to help the animals' voices be heard. Your teen might talk about proper animal treatment and care at a school assembly, pass out information sheets to his friends at school, or any other number of things. You don't have to be an adult to speak out about what you believe in. Everyday kids can make a difference -- a big one at that. If your teen feels strongly about helping animals, spreading the word about those thoughts could possibly be a big help by making more people aware.
Benefits to your teen volunteering to help animals
- These volunteer positions help a teen learn even more about animal care, which can extend to any pets at home.
- If your family currently has no pets, a volunteer position with animals can help prepare your teen for that if it should arise in the future.
- Volunteer positions help prepare teens for the career world.
- If your teen is doing something productive, like volunteering, it may lessen the risk of getting into trouble out of boredom.
- Obviously, a big benefit comes from the side of the animals in your teen's care.