Every time we share news of a victory in our fight to protect animals, or positive trends in our cause, or growing momentum in a particular campaign, it’s also a story about the countless contributions of people working tirelessly behind the scenes to make these good things happen. Our campaigners, state and country office directors and other experts play a crucial role, but there’s another group that also deserves credit: our volunteers. And this National Volunteer Week, April 17- 23, I’m proud to recognize the far-reaching and truly impressive work our volunteers put forth.
In 2021 alone, across our family of organizations, 1,671 volunteers contributed more than 50,000 hours of time, both in the United States and across the globe. And we’re not just talking about responders who volunteer with our Animal Rescue Team. Many of our volunteers complete their tasks from home. They take action across the full range of our concerns, for all types of animals, doing all sorts of work.
Take our campaign to end puppy mills. Volunteers put their time and talents to work in many different ways:
- Assisting with research. Last year, a team of volunteers sorted and categorized more than 20,000 public records that helped demonstrate the connection between puppy mills and pet stores.
- Promoting state and local laws that prohibit the sale of puppy mill puppies in pet stores. More than 700 enthusiastic animal advocates have joined our Humane Policy Volunteer Leader program. Participants take action by contacting their lawmakers, testifying at hearings, writing letters to the editor, helping to advance local ordinances that prohibit pet stores from selling puppy mill puppies, recruiting friends and family to act and more. They’ve also been a strong voice in support of the Puppy Protection Act at the federal level.
- Engaging other supporters. Phone banking volunteers call others to mobilize support for puppy mill legislation.
Those are just a few examples for a single campaign. Across our organization, there are many more opportunities to get involved as a volunteer, work that helps put people’s many incredible talents and skills toward changing the world for animals.
For those with flexibility in their schedules and the desire to do hands-on work, our Animal Rescue Volunteer program could be a great fit. Volunteers from across the country come to our care and rehabilitation center in Maryland to serve alongside our staff in providing daily care for animals rescued from puppy mills, cruelty situations and more. Walking animals, cleaning kennels, providing transport, handling administrative tasks, preparing meals…there are lots of ways to help.
For folks who prefer a less hands-on role, our HSUS Ally program could fit the bill. Fill out this short form, and we'll let you know when opportunities to speak up for animals arise in your region.
And if you know a veterinarian, veterinary technician or veterinary student (or maybe you are one yourself), check out our Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association volunteer program. These volunteers share their expertise through veterinary relief and service opportunities, including volunteering with the Rural Area Veterinary Services program. They also advocate in support of good animal care and animal-friendly legislation through testimony, interviews with the media, letters to the editor and more.
Our commitment to engaging volunteers in strategic, meaningful and dynamic ways is getting noticed: We’re very proud to say that the Humane Society of the United States has been certified by Points of Light, the world’s largest organization dedicated to volunteer service, with the prestigious “Service Enterprise” designation. This accomplishment ranks us with the top 11% of nonprofits nationwide when it comes to volunteer management and organizational performance, and it signifies that we have the focus, capability and expertise to leverage volunteer contributions to make real change.
To our current and past volunteers, thank you! Your selfless dedication to protecting animals is an inspiration. And to those of you who are considering it but haven’t yet, I hope you’ll join our volunteer program. Looking for more ways to make the world a safer place for animals? Scroll through the many options listed here.
I’m certain we can put your passion to work for animals, and I’m excited to see the results of your dedication. We need you, we appreciate you and we welcome you as a contributor to our work.
Interested in meeting like-minded animal advocates and learning how to protect animals in your community? Join us at the Taking Action for Animals conference this summer!