Frequently Asked Questions about Volunteering
How do I become an APA! volunteer?
Are there any ongoing requirements for volunteers?
I need to fulfill community service hours, what should I do?
I’m having problems with the volunteer application.
I completed the online application, now what?
Is advance registration required for orientation?
Why are you charging a fee to attend orientation?
How long is orientation?
Can I just come walk dogs?
I attended an orientation, now what?
I’m under 18, can I volunteer?
I want to take a dog for a walk/run on the Lady Bird Lake Trail.
Can my group set up a service day?
What can I do as an Austin Pets Alive! volunteer?
Follow these steps to become an APA! volunteer:
1. Fill out our Volunteer Application.
2. Register for a volunteer orientation session (link provided after you submit application).
We ask that all volunteers commit to at least 6 hours per month of service. Our volunteer management system has fee for each user, so we regularly remove volunteers who do not actively volunteer each month.
If you are seeking community service hours for a pending or completed court case, refer to our Community Service Restitution Program page.
A common reason that an application fails to submit is if required fields are left blank. All items with a red asterisk must be completed. Also, each application must have a unique username. If you are trying to register multiple individuals with the same email address, you must start each application in the window on the left side of the screen. Upon entering a duplicate email address, you will see the following message:
The email address you entered is currently registered with an account in our system. If you think that this account belongs to you but have forgotten your username and password, you can have your login information reset and emailed to you by visiting the password reset page.
If you are sharing this email address with another person and wish to continue creating a new account, click “Save And Continue”. Make sure you have entered a unique username, and click “Save and Continue” to fill out an additional volunteer application.
After submitting your application, you will receive a confirmation email with information on attending an orientation session. This is a very important email, as it contains pertinent details relating to orientation. If you don’t receive the email, that doesn’t necessarily mean your application wasn’t received. In most cases, if you don’t find the email in your regular inbox, it will be in your spam filter or junk mail folder because your email settings are not allowing email from Austin Pets Alive!.
Parking is limited and registrants need to be checked in by the time orientation begins, so we strongly recommend that you arrive at least 15 minutes early. The Town Lake Animal Center is located just east of Mopac at 1156 W. Cesar Chavez St., Austin TX 78703. The facility is located behind the West Austin Youth Association fields; if you have never visited before, we recommend reviewing the entrance route prior to your orientation date. If you arrive after the orientation start time, you will be turned away regardless of whether you have a reservation. Additionally, we will not transfer your orientation registration to a later date if you arrive late.
We are very fortunate that a lot of people are interested in volunteering at APA!. However, in spite of easily filling up multiple orientation sessions a month, the actual number of volunteers who end up volunteering long-term is very small (approximately 10% after a year). This is typical for nonprofits, but it means that our volunteers spend a great deal of time and effort on training when they are needed in other areas.
Additionally, we had many requests to make orientation a reservation-based system so that potential volunteers would not have to arrive extremely early to obtain a spot in an orientation session. Prior to implementing this system, we routinely turned away interested volunteers 45 minutes before the stated orientation start time just because the room was already full. The orientation registration fee reserves a spot for you at the selected orientation session and includes a volunteer t-shirt.
Note that the registration fee is not refundable if you miss your scheduled orientation session or arrive late because you cannot find the shelter or a parking spot.
The entire program typically lasts two hours. It is important to stay for the duration to complete the orientation presentation and facilities tour.
Only trained APA! volunteers may walk dogs. You will receive instructions on how to become a trained APA! dog walker when you attend volunteer orientation.
The following rules apply to minors (under 18) interested in volunteering at Austin Pets Alive!:
- Volunteers aged 16-17 may volunteer without a parent or guardian if a waiver is on file with APA!.
- Volunteers aged 12-15 are welcome to volunteer when accompanied by a parent, legal guardian, or approved adult supervisor. This age group is not permitted to handle animals but may assist in many volunteer activities.
- Non-orientated individuals are not permitted to accompany volunteers at any of our locations. This includes children of adult volunteers.
- For any minor volunteer, a parent or legal guardian must also fill out the online application and attend an orientation session.
In addition to the general age guidelines set forth above, the following areas have special age requirements:
- Neonatal Ward: Volunteers must be at least 16 years old to volunteer in the neonatal ward. Only adult volunteers (18+) are permitted to bottle feed.
- Clinic & Parvo Puppy Ward: Volunteers must be at least 18 years old to volunteer in the clinic and/or the parvo ward.
Our behavior program volunteers can take approved dogs out on field trips, including (but not limited to!) the trail.
We strongly encourage groups to become fully oriented volunteers by participating in our regular volunteer orientation process. Groups that are requesting regular scheduled shifts must proceed with the general volunteer orientation process.
Austin Animal Center welcomes groups too! Visit their website for more information.
Volunteer opportunities are constantly changing as we grow and develop new programs. Below is a listing of current opportunities, but you will get more details and learn about the latest needs and options when you attend orientation.
- [email protected] Line: Work from home to return phone calls and e-mails form the public about animals that APA! has up for adoption.
- Adoption Sites: Assist adoption staff at APA! facilities and offsite locations by answering questions from the public and facilitating introductions between potential adopters and our dogs and cats. Follow up with clients after adoption to check in and answer any questions or concerns.
- Animal Marketing: Help get animals adopted by marketing them! This team photographs the animals for the website, gathers information about the dogs and cats, writes bios, and posts ads to websites like Petfinder and Craigslist.
- Behavior (Dog): Work with our highest need dogs on manners, socialization, and basic obedience to make them more adoptable. Dog Behavior volunteers are eligible to take dogs on field trips and participate in training opportunities like TTouch, Doga, and Playgroups. *Additional training required*
- Big Brother/Big Sister for Dogs: Volunteers act as “bigs” to dogs who are waiting to be adopted. Pamper, love, and spoil the “littles” by doing things like field trips, sleepovers, and trips to the groomer.
- Bottle Baby Nursery: Feed and care for bottle baby kittens in the on-site neonatal ward. Ensure sanitation of ward, all equipment, and supplies. Shifts available around the clock; volunteers must be able to commit to regular shifts during kitten season. *Additional training required*
- Data Entry / Office Work: Enter data or perform other office tasks to keep our processes running smoothly.
- Development: Our organization is completely dependent on donations. This committee assists in finding individual and business sponsors, researching and writing grants, and overseeing donor recognition.
- Dog Walking: Ensure APA! dogs get the walks, exercise and TLC they need (and deserve) every day. Walkers are most needed during early morning and evening shifts to get the dogs out for their first and last breaks of the day, but trained walkers are welcome all day long.
- Events: Promote APA!’s mission and recruit volunteers, fosters, adopters, and donors at special events around town. Work at info tables and booths, and hang out with adoptable animals while representing Austin Pets Alive!.
- Facilities: Help with various handy projects and maintenance around the APA! facility like carpentry, painting, lawn care, plumbing, electrical work, etc.
- Foster: Provide temporary care for cats or dogs in your home until they can be adopted. You must be the owner/renter of home and fill out a Foster Care Volunteer Application. Over the summer, fostering will count as school community service hours for high school students too! See our Foster page for more information.
- Marketing/PR/Graphic Design: Help educate the public about APA! and our mission via media relations, social media, and marketing campaigns. Create a variety of promotional materials including brochures, ads, posters and flyers.
- Medical: Assist in clinic areas like reception and recovery; ensure pets are up to date on all medical requirements prior to attending adoption events; ensure medical information is in database; help fosters with medical questions; coordinate medical needs with veterinarians. *Additional training may be required*
- Parvo Puppy ICU: Parvo is a contagious disease among puppies that can be cured with treatment. Help care for puppies that have parvovirus in our isolated intensive care unit. *Additional training required*
- PASS Helpline: As part of our Positive Alternatives to Shelter Surrender program, answer calls from public one day a week to help them rehome their pet instead of surrendering it to the city shelter.
- Photography: Take and post digital photos of adoptable animals for marketing materials. Experience and DSLR camera strongly preferred.
- Ringworm Ward: Help care for cats with ringworm (a fungus similar to athlete’s foot) in our ringworm ward until they are no longer contagious and can be moved into a foster home or the Cat Adoption Center.
- Transport: Transport dogs from Austin Animal Center and other locations to APA! facilities via your own vehicle.
- Volunteer Coordination: Help us run the volunteer program! Responsibilities may include conducting volunteer orientation, supervising volunteer groups, updating the volunteer management system, and answering questions about volunteering.