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Why You Should Become an Animal Shelter Volunteer

Have you been thinking about volunteering at a local shelter, but are undecided? These 6 reasons will convince you. 
It makes a difference. As of the time this post was written, there are 6.5 million pets entering shelters in the US each year. With numbers like that, it's no wonder shelters struggle with finances and short staffing. Even if you can't help financially, volunteering your time can be a great help to the animals and staff of the shelters. Any duties you're performing take some of the burden away from the hardworking staff of the shelter so that they can help more animals than they would have had you not been there. And every smile, every walk, every encouragement and tummy rub greatly improves the life of a shelter pet. They may not be able to talk, but they'll thank you with wagging tails and plenty of kisses. 
It's great for your physical health. It's much easier to motivate yourself to walk if you have a walking buddy. Even more so if your walking buddy has four legs. Shelters always need volunteers to help walk the dogs. Dogs challenge you to push yourself to walk longer and farther. This is great news for your physical health, as walking is one of the best low impact activities for health-conscious individuals of all ages and fitness levels. 
It's great for your mental health. In addition to the added mental boost of getting exercise walking and caring for shelter dogs, volunteering can greatly increase your quality of life. Volunteering has been shown to greatly decrease stress and increase happiness. When you take a break from the troubles of your day to do something kind for someone else, it makes the world as a whole seem like a better place. And when you're volunteering, you are actively making the world a better place.
It's a wonderful way to meet new people. If you're new to an area or have trouble finding like-minded people, volunteering at a shelter may be a great way to meet new friends. You will already have common ground in your passion for animals, and that will make for a great way to break the ice. 
It's a wonderful way to network. If you're looking to go into a career caring for animals, volunteering is a great way to network. You can create a name for yourself in your local community, and open up the door for future opportunities. There are many other skills that could be utilized in a shelter setting, such as marketing, photography, and graphic design. Volunteering your skills today could pave the way for new career opportunities tomorrow. Assess your own skillset and see what you could offer your local shelter. Volunteering at a shelter also looks great on your resume.
You may meet your new best friend. Whether you're casually or actively looking to adopt, volunteering is a great way to get to know the animals for an extended period of time. You'll be able to learn their personalities, quirks, and whether they'd be a good fit in your home. Adopting an animal is not a decision to take lightly, so having an extended amount of time to get to know an animal beforehand can be very beneficial in your decision making process.
In addition to volunteering at a shelter, there are also opportunities to foster animals in your home. It takes a special person and a special home to be able to foster an animal. Your home must be spacious enough to allow the foster animal their own separate space away from other pets or children so that they can adjust to their new environment. Foster animals may need more care and attention than pets you currently have or have had in the past, so it is important that you are home often to care for them and monitor their progress. 
If you find that the pain of saying goodbye to a pet you've spent weeks or months with to be too much, then perhaps it may be better to look into other volunteering options. It's normal to feel sad when saying goodbye to your foster pet, but if the joy of knowing that they are going to their forever home doesn't outweigh the sadness you feel in their absence, then you have to do what's best for you and your home.
Although fostering presents a lot of unique challenges, the benefits to the animals and to the local shelters and organizations is immeasurable. Fostering helps make space in the shelters for other animals in need. It also provides the animals with much-needed socialization, interaction, and loving care. Fostering is a great opportunity for empty nesters, or someone who has recently lost a pet and isn't ready to commit to another, but may find comfort in fostering an animal in need.
To get started on your volunteering or fostering journey, visit a local shelter near you!
————— Delaware —————
Delaware SPCA
Newark, Delaware
————— Maryland —————
Talbot Humane Society
Easton, Maryland
Worcester Humane Society
Berlin, Maryland
Baywater Animal Rescue
Cambridge, Maryland

Do you know of any other shelters in the Delmarva area? Email to add them to the list!