As people, we are pulled in so many directions: work, school, family, spouses, pets, the list goes on. Some may wonder how anyone has time to do anything, let alone volunteer. But volunteering has some surprising benefits, both for you volunteer, and the organization you donate your time to.
I've been a volunteer writer with Pawsitive Alliance for over 3 years now. Even though I write for a living, there's always times I feel down on my work or like I'm not doing enough. Enter: volunteer writing. Writing social posts and Petfinder descriptions for homeless pets not only make me feel like I'm doing something good for pets, but it increases my skills and confidence in what I'm doing. It's a win-win for all.
Meeting new people
Volunteer opportunities are a great way to meet new people with similar interests. Ask yourself: how else can you meet people who share the same passions you do? It's been wonderful meeting the Pawisitve Alliance team and seeing how all of our strengths together are helping homeless animals find homes.
The feel-good effect
When you do good for others, studies show you actually feel better about yourself, your life, and the daily situations you face. Donating your time or your skillset--even if it's a little bit of time--can really make you feel better and happier, which in turn benefits not only the organization you're helping, but your overall mental health.
Learning new skills
Not sure you'd be good at writing? Want to try out customer service? Volunteering is a great way to learn new skills with no pressure. While I chose to donate my writing skills (skills I already have), there's nothing stopping me from trying and learning different facets and skills. Plus, there's always someone around who wants to help--so you can keep helping the organization be successful!
Want to try volunteering? Here's how you can get the most out of it.
Pick an organization you feel passionately about
As a pet lover, it was a no-brainer for me to volunteer my time to help pets find homes. If you love what the organization does and stands for, you'll have no qualms about donating your time and skills.
You'll want to make sure you know what volunteer expectations are, and if you have the extra time needed to make a strong commitment. Over time, you may be able to adjust your commitment—if you build trust from the beginning.
Make sure you pick a task you'll enjoy doing. Because I'm a writer by day and love creating and writing content, I utilized my passions to create the perfect volunteer opportunity. Because I'm happy, the organization benefits, too.
Did you know that one in three pets will get lost in their lifetime? Even the most careful pet parents know how quickly a pet can become lost: someone accidentally leaves a door open, a dog get spooked by fireworks, a cat jumps out an open window, the list goes on. The pets that aren’t reunited often wind up at local shelters as strays. It’s estimated that in Washington state, 50% of the animals that enter into the shelter system are strays.
In Yakima County, thousands of pets every year have to be rehomed while their owners are searching for them, not realizing they could be in local shelters or rescues. We know this could be corrected with the proper ID. To help with this, we have formed a coalition of animal welfare organizations in Yakima County called Project Mission Pawsible. To date, the coalition's efforts include providing free tags and collars to thousands of dogs in the community, with every adopted animal now leaving the shelter with a collar, ID tag, and microchip.
This is just the beginning. We are working to increase spay and neuter services in central Washington, making improvements to the lost and found system, and having the right tools available if someone loses their pet so they can be reunited with them quickly.
For more information on what to do if your pet is lost or if you find a pet in Yakima County, visit their lost and found page here. For general information about lost and founds pets, visit the Missing Pet Partnership.
Alleviating Concerns. (n.d.).http://microchip.homeagain.com/alleviating-concerns.html
History of World Spay Day
Doris Day, a famous actress and avid animal welfare supporter, founded Doris Day Animal League in 1987 primarily to focus on legislation. Spay Day USA started in 1995 with an effort to “shine a spotlight on the power of affordable, accessible spay/neuter to save the lives of companion animals, community (feral and stray) cats, and street dogs who might otherwise be put down in shelters or killed on the street” (“World Spay Day”). In 2006, Doris Day Animal League merged with the Humane Society of the United States and Spay Day USA was reborn as World Spay Day. In its 24 years, World Spay Day/ Spay Day USA has expanded to 70 countries worldwide.
How does only one unspayed cat or dog make an impact?
Just one cat can have as many as 100 kittens in their lifetime. Expanding that to its offspring, in only seven years, this one cat has populated hundreds of thousands of kittens through its offspring (“Fun Facts”). Depending on the dog’s litter size, one dog could produce 20-40,000 pups through their offspring.
What can we do?
What if I want to help but can’t do something in time for this year’s World Spay Day?
Spaying and neutering matters 365 days a year. It is one of the most impactful ways to reduce unwanted litters and the demand of more animals on community resources over time. For more ways to support throughout the year, contact us HERE.
Humane Society of the United States. “World Spay Day.” The Humane Society of the United States, www.humanesociety.org/issues/spay_day/.
Doris Day Animal League. “Primary Menu.” Doris Day Animal League, www.ddal.org/.Fayette Humane Society. “Fun Facts.” Fayette Humane Society, www.fayettehumane.org/fun-facts/.