Volunteering at OHS

OHS offers a variety of volunteer opportunities for adults (age 18+).


Find requirements for volunteering at OHS, how to submit a volunteer application, and resources for current OHS adult volunteers.

Resources for Current Volunteers

Volunteer Info Center Log In ButtonThe Volunteer Information Center is the place to schedule your hours online, view or print a report of your hours, post your commute or OHSTAR hours, and update your profile.

View the Noseweek newsletter filled with upcoming opportunities, and find resource documents, contact information and much more.

Volunteer Opportunities

This is a brief overview of the types of volunteer opportunities available for adults. More information will be provided during Volunteer Orientation and training sessions:

OHS Fountain and Rose Garden
OHS Fountain and Rose Garden

Volunteer Requirements

Interested in volunteering at the shelter or at OHS-sponsored events? We welcome you to apply to our adult volunteer program if you are:

General Requirements

  • At least 18 years old.  Volunteers under 18, see the Youth Volunteer Program.
  • Able to commit to volunteering a minimum of 12 hours per month for the first 3 months, and then strive to volunteer 8 hours per month thereafter.
  • Possess strong customer service skills and have the ability to read and understand instructions and procedures, write legibly, and communicate clearly, professionally, and politely since all volunteer positions work directly with the public, staff, and other volunteers.
  • If you are volunteering as a driver using a shelter vehicle you must have a clear, insurable driving record.
  • Have regular access to the Internet and an email account.
  • Ability to see well enough to move safely throughout the building, distinguish animal body language, as well as read instructions.

Physical Capabilities if Working with Animals

  • Quick reflexes and ability to use both hands simultaneously (example: open kennel door while handling animal).
  • Ability to bend and squat in order to leash/harness, and/or pick up an animal.
  • Ability to stand for significant periods of time while walking dogs, socializing cats, or cleaning kennels.
  • Ability to hear if animal is giving warnings, such as growling, yelping or hissing.
  • Ability to react quickly in order to prevent animals from escaping (example: ability to quickly pursue and retrieve any animals who have escaped from a kennel).
  • Ability to cope with a loud and chaotic environment.

Cognitive Capabilities

  • Ability, once trained, to work independently with minimal supervision.
  • Recognize limitations in knowledge and abilities, and know when to ask for help if needed.
  • Ability to problem solve.
  • Ability to handle redirection and constructive criticism without responding negatively.
  • Acceptance of the boundaries between the role of the volunteer and the role of the staff.
  • Maintain a positive attitude and a solution oriented approach to challenging situations, rather than resorting to complaining or gossiping.
  • If working with animals:
    • Ability to recognize potentially hazardous situations when working with the animals.
    • Ability to remain calm with animals who are upset.  Behave sensitively, confidently, and appropriately in these situations.

Important Notes

Background Check: A standard national criminal background check is required for all adult applicants. This is not a credit check. If you have a prior felony conviction you may be declined, depending on the crime.

Court-Mandated Service: This program cannot be used to fulfill court-mandated hours. Instead, view our court-mandated community service program.

Students: We cannot accommodate students who are required to fulfill short-term community service hours. OHS will not grant community service hours to any volunteer unless they can make a six-month commitment of 12 hours per month.

Short-Term: We do not accept any general short-term volunteers (even during the summer) due to extensive training requirements.

Costs & Supplies: All adult volunteers are required to purchase needed supplies and pay for the background check. Costs are:

  • $47 for cat-handling volunteers, shelter resource volunteers, and administrative volunteers
  • $57.50 for dog-handling volunteers
  • $47 for small animal-handling volunteers
  • If you are financially unable to cover this cost, please let us know and we can find a way to help.

How To Volunteer

To become a volunteer, you must first fill out the volunteer application online. We are not able to send applications by postal mail.

*If you would only like to volunteer your time as a foster parent and not also at the shelter, please fill out the foster care only volunteer application instead, found here. The general volunteer application is for those who are interested in volunteering at the shelter in addition to fostering. Foster care only volunteers do not volunteer at all in the shelter.

Apply to become an OHS adult volunteer

After receiving your application, we will contact you to schedule your volunteer orientation. These are generally held the last Sunday of each month (no orientations are held in December).

Once you have been scheduled for an orientation, you will receive an email asking you to complete a background check. All persons volunteering must complete a background check. If you have any questions, please email the volunteer team leaders.