Volunteer Program FAQ

Would you like to learn about volunteering with the Wake County Animal Center? Please read the frequently asked questions below for more information.

Getting Started

How do I become a volunteer with the WCAC?

The first step is to complete our online Volunteer Application. Once submitted, and if we are currently onboarding new volunteers, the Volunteer Coordinator will email you a “Welcome” packet with orientation videos, a virtual tour, volunteer role information and more!

I don’t have a computer or email – will this be an issue?

Due to the high volume of applicants, the number of active volunteers we have at a time, and the costs associated with paper applications, newsletters and mailers, we prefer all volunteer applications and communicates to take place electronically. This is the most cost-effective and time-efficient way for us to communicate.

For this reason, we moved our application and assignment calendar online and require all volunteers to have online access and a valid email address. We do have a computer set up in the Volunteer Lounge that can be used to schedule assignments, log volunteer hours and check updates about the Volunteer Program.

I have a disability or medical condition that I think might impact my ability to volunteer with WCAC. Are there volunteer opportunities for people with disabilities or other medical conditions?

Yes! We have disabled volunteers and work hard to accommodate differing needs, if possible.

If you are not able to volunteer independently, you may bring an assistant with you. Due to the physical nature of animal sheltering, safety is our number-one priority, and we do ask all our volunteers to meet our Essential Capabilities in order to safely interact with our animals.

If you have an allergy to peanuts, cats, dogs or other animals, be aware that this may not be a safe environment for you, depending on how severe your allergy is. We do have assignments and opportunities to volunteer within the Volunteer Program without direct interactions with animals that are still highly beneficial to our organization and have an immediate impact on the animals in our care.

Please reach out to us with any specific questions or concerns so we can see what options are available based on your specific situation.

Age Requirements

What is the minimum age for volunteering with the WCAC?

All volunteers must be at least 16 years of age, and any volunteer under 18 must have a parent or legal guardian co-volunteering with them in the same assignment. There are no exceptions to this requirement.

I am 16 but very mature for my age. Do I still need to volunteer with a parent or guardian?

Yes, for the safety of both our volunteers and animals, we require that anyone 16 or 17 years old volunteer with a supervising adult. There are no exceptions to this requirement. If you are over 16 and not able to get your parent or guardian involved as a volunteer, please have them consider applying to be a foster. Although the primary foster must be 18 years of age or older, the entire family can participate in the fostering experience.

My kids LOVE animals. Can they still volunteer with me?

No. Unfortunately, due to liability reasons, all volunteers must be at least 16 years old. There are no exceptions to this requirement.

Time Commitment & Scheduling

What is the time commitment for volunteering?

We are always looking for volunteers who can commit to at least six hours a month for at least six months. To provide our animals with the best care and support, we cannot accommodate volunteers who intend to only volunteer for one to two weeks while they are on a break from school or visiting family in the area. This requirement helps us ensure quality training and consistent volunteer coverage for our animals.

My work, organization, group would like to stop by for a one-day Give-Back Day and walk dogs, cuddle cats, etc. What days work best for something like that?

Unfortunately, due to the nature of our organization and the safety protocols we have, we require orientations, trainings, waivers and more before anyone can volunteer with us. This makes it impossible for us to participate in single-day projects.

What times am I able to volunteer?

Depending on the assignment, volunteers can start as early as 8:30 a.m. and end around 6 p.m. Typically, volunteer assignments last roughly two hours, but volunteers are encouraged to volunteer longer if they’d like (and if there is an open spot within that assignment).

I work until 6 p.m. Do you have any volunteer opportunities in the evening?

Unfortunately, no. Most of our volunteer assignments end when the shelter closes (at 6 p.m.). We are open every day – including weekends – for volunteer assignments. We also have a “Training & Enrichment Team,” which creates enrichment items for the animals in our care. This assignment typically starts at 6 p.m., when scheduled on a weekday, and runs for two hours.

Training

I already know how to walk dogs, handle cats, etc. I have had animals my whole life / I have volunteered with other animal organizations in the past. Why do I need training to start volunteering with the WCAC?

As a WCAC volunteer, you’ll need to learn the way we do things. This can be very different from the way you typically interact with animals in a home environment. To ensure the animals consistently receive a high quality of care and stay as healthy as possible, we educate our volunteers about protocols and procedures that are in place to limit the transfer of disease and provide training on how to correctly interact with the animals in our care to reduce stress and provide positive reinforcement for behavior that will prepare them for adoption and a new home. To start, volunteers must first view our orientation videos to learn more about the Volunteer Program, our roles/assignments and our current needs. You can then sign up to receive training to learn the ins and outs of a specific role.

I am a dog trainer/groomer. Can I volunteer teaching dog training classes/grooming dogs to promote my business?

At the WCAC, we are always looking for experienced animal professionals to join our Volunteer Program. We do allow business cards, postcards, flyers, etc., to be presented in our Center lobby. We don’t, however, endorse any specific business within the Volunteer Program or from the Center. If you would like to use your volunteerism to promote your business, we encourage business owners to post about their experience on social media. Posts about your volunteerism such as, “It’s Wednesday and you all know what that means – VOLUNTEERING AT THE WCAC!” with a picture or video of an adoptable animal can be mutually beneficial for both the WCAC and your business.

I’m scared of bigger dogs. Can I just volunteer to play with puppies or kittens?

Yes, you are more than welcome to volunteer only with the types of animals with which you feel the most comfortable or volunteer without direct interaction with animals at all. It is, however, very infrequent that we have puppies or kittens linger in the shelter – they are either placed in foster or get adopted quickly and head to their new homes. If you are interested, and experienced, in socialization for puppies or kittens, please consider signing up to be a foster home.

Other Common Questions

I need community service hours. Can I volunteer with the WCAC?

Unfortunately, no, we do not accept volunteers for community service hours. There are no exceptions, and community service paperwork will not be signed by our Volunteer Coordinator.

Can I catch anything from volunteering with homeless pets? Should I worry about taking an illness home to my pets?

The risk of catching or spreading an illness from a shelter pet is rare, but the small chance is still there. During an animal’s stay at the WCAC, they receive required vaccines and parasite prevention. If an animal shows sign of disease, illness or injury, they are treated accordingly by our veterinary team; however, just like in humans, some illnesses can be contagious without symptoms or before symptoms show. To keep yourself, your pets and the shelter safe, be sure to wash your hands or use hand sanitizer, especially after interactions with animals, but remember that volunteers rarely help care for unvaccinated or sick animals at the WCAC.

What should I wear while volunteering?

Closed-toed, non-clog-type shoes are required for volunteering within the Center. Hiking shoes may be preferred if you’re going to be walking dogs. Long pants are also required while volunteering directly with the animals. Dog walkers are advised to dress in layers during spring, autumn and winter months, as mornings can be chilly but warm in the afternoon.

Questions or concerns about the Volunteer Program?

Please don’t hesitate to reach out to Meagan Thomas, Volunteer Coordinator for the Wake County Animal Center, at Meagan.Thomas@wakegov.com or 919-250-3180 regarding any volunteer questions.