Volunteers are essential to everything we do! Shelter volunteers provide hands-on animal care such as grooming, exercising, and socializing the animals while they wait for their new homes. In addition, volunteers assist with kennel cleaning, general housekeeping, and customer service.
Other volunteer opportunities include off-site adoption events, animal photography, office work/data entry, yard work, building maintenance, newsletter mailings, fundraising events, humane education and pet visits at schools and day cares, senior care pet therapy visits, veterinary medicine, and the Board of Directors.
If you have a special skill or trade that you feel may be beneficial to our shelter, please share it with us. Wherever your talents lie, TCHS welcomes you!
The Volunteer Process
Volunteers must be 14 years of age or older to volunteer alone, or as young as 10 years of age to volunteer alongside an adult.
The first step to becoming a TCHS volunteer is to fill out an application. Completed applications are reviewed and a background check is processed. Thereafter, applicants may be invited to attend a group orientation. Volunteer orientations are typically held once per month. Training programs vary depending on the type of volunteer position an applicant pursues. The entire process may take several weeks from the time an application is received to the completion of training.
Common Volunteer Needs
Shelter Animal Care Providers help keep a clean atmosphere for the animals and visitors at the Tri-County Humane Society as well as provide attention to the animals while they are waiting to be adopted. Volunteers keep cages and animal areas clean, socialize the animals, assist customers with viewing animals, and take shelter dogs for walks. Customer service skills are important for this position. Volunteer shifts are generally a minimum of 2 hours per week.
Animal Transporters must be 16 years of age or older, have a valid driver’s license, have their own vehicle, and provide proof of insurance. These volunteers are generally put on a “call list” and are contacted when transportation needs arise. Common transport needs include bringing shelter pets to and from local veterinary clinics and to Petco and Petsmart.
Animal Photographers take photographs of adoptable animals. People with experience in photography and the ability to edit photos are encouraged to apply for this position. Since our website is so important in advertising our animals, professional quality photographs improve an animal’s adoption rate. Photographers are scheduled for at least a 2-hour weekly shift.
Office Assistants help with miscellaneous office projects such as data entry, filing, editing website descriptions, stocking and pricing merchandise, phone calls, bulk mailings, etc. This may be an on-call or scheduled volunteer position.
Petco Animal Caretakers clean cages of TCHS animals at Petco while they wait for their forever home. They also watch for signs of illness and socialize with the animals. Volunteer hours are roughly 8:30-10:30 a.m. and scheduled for the same day each week.
Offsite Adoption Event Workers attend adoption events at Petco, Petsmart, or other venues. Volunteers staff a Tri-County Humane Society informational booth and transport animals for adoption to the events. Volunteers spend time socializing the animals, assist customers in meeting the animals, process adoption paperwork, and spread the TCHS mission to the public. The events are roughly 4 hours in length and we ask for a once-a-month commitment.
Senior Care Pet Therapy Volunteers bring a shelter animal or owned pet (with Tri-County Humane Society interview and approval) to visit residents of various senior care facilities. This is generally a once-a-month commitment and hours are variable depending on the facility.
Service Learning Program
This type of volunteer service is used when someone is looking for a short-term volunteer opportunity. It is often used when students are looking for credits for a class or extracurricular program. Due to a shortened training process, these volunteers do not work directly with the shelter animals. Individuals or groups may be eligible for this program depending on their goals and the needs of the shelter. Please contact the volunteer coordinator directly if you are interested in this type of service.
Community Service Program
TCHS accepts court-ordered community service workers. However, there are very specific rules and guidelines for this type of service. For more information on community service, please contact our volunteer coordinator.
If these opportunities do not fit your goals and/or availability, please contact our volunteer coordinator for more information on ways you can help.
2016 Volunteer Awards
We say it often, and it’s true: Tri-County Humane Society couldn’t keep its animals well cared for, its customers satisfied or even its doors open without the help of its hundreds of committed volunteers. We’re truly lucky that we have so many generous people in our (and the animals’) corner.
Our volunteer program continued its tradition of excellence in 2016 with 942 people providing more than 17,502 hours of service.
Our volunteers did shelter animal care, dishes, general cleaning and everything in between. From delivering posters marketing special events to scooping litter boxes, every bit of work helped benefit the animals. We’re so grateful to all of them for taking time out of their busy schedules and finding room in their hearts for our thousands of homeless pets.
We continued to offer our civil service program, too, for those who needed court-ordered volunteer hours or service learning volunteer hours (such as school projects). More than 130 people in the civil service program contributed more than 830 hours to help the shelter last year.
Thank you, volunteers, for all you do. It means the world to our animals.
Volunteer Program Community Partners: And a special thank you to our partners including Sartell High School, Sauk Rapids-Rice Middle School, Sauk Rapids-Rice High School, Minnesota School of Business, United Way of Central Minnesota, Stearns County Corrections, Sherburne County Corrections, Benton County Corrections, Opportunity Matters, WACOSA, St. Cloud Public Library, Retired and Senior Volunteer Program, St. Cloud State University’s women’s soccer team, College of St. Benedict/St. John’s University and St. Cloud’s rugby team.
Humane Education/Pet Therapy Visits: Community outreach is a major part of what we do at Tri-County Humane Society. Through the help of volunteers, we were able to increase our visits to senior care centers /assisted living facilities to 83 in 2016, up from 50 the previous year. We’re hearing great reports from those visits, further illustrating the importance of the human-animal bond. We also had 50 community events, 24 birthday parties, 34 shelter tours and 43 offsite adoption events.
Volunteer of the Year: Deb Roberts
Deb Roberts modestly describes herself as a jack-of-all-trades, and her volunteer experience reflects that. Deb has been a volunteer at TCHS for almost four years. She put in about 356 hours of volunteer time at TCHS in 2016. During Deb’s TCHS tenure, she’s taken on shelter animal care, including the dirty work of dishes and laundry. Her favorite volunteer duty is dog walking. “It’s fun to go out in that little thicket of the woods, except when the bugs are out!” Deb is a gentle-but-firm stickler for the shelter rules, and she sets a great example for new volunteers. She also does special events, everything from Woofstock to Santa Paws to brat sales to gift wrapping. In short, if it helps TCHS, Deb is quick to pitch in. What does she like about volunteering at TCHS? “I like the positive attitude of the people around here,” she said.
Junior Volunteer of the Year: Leilani Anderson
Leilani Anderson is one of TCHS’ most trusted and versatile volunteers, and she’s only 14 years old. She’s one of our youngest mentor volunteers, and she helps the shelter in a wide variety of ways, from shelter animal care to offsite adoptions to dog walking to special events. The Sauk Rapids-Rice High School freshman put in about 362 hours of volunteer service at TCHS in 2016. “I just like spending time with the animals and making sure they go to a good home.” (She says dog walking is her favorite duty – she loves getting them outside to play.) Volunteering is a family affair for Leilani: She’s often seen walking dogs with her brother Kenan, and her family fosters animals, too. (They even did some volunteer welding for some cat cages that needed TLC.) Leilani recently became a birthday party host, and she does a great job making the day special for the guests of honor. As for advice she’d give other junior volunteers, she says, “Come in and help out, but have fun doing it.”
Above and Beyond Volunteer of the Year: Cynthia Ryg
Cynthia Ryg has been volunteering for TCHS for three and a half years. She put in about 210 hours of volunteer service last year. Cynthia is one of the women we affectionately call our “cat ladies,” and she gives special care to the cats in the isolation room during her weekly shift. Cynthia also is a frequent transporter of animals and often goes above and beyond. Animal Care Manager Andrea Jaekel credits her with helping save a lot of lives. Besides working at special events, Cynthia is a frequent foster parent. She’s cared for 17 kittens so far, and she said her goal is 100. She said her favorite part about volunteering is the people, the staff and the volunteers. “I get this real sense of community here.” As what as what she would tell a new volunteer, she said, “Your goal should be to find good homes for the cats, and work toward that goal no matter what it takes,” whether it’s in the shelter, in the isolation room or in the surgery center. “Everything we do is to bring them toward that forever home.”