Lend a Paw in Colorado. Volunteer.

November 3, 2015
This November, The Dime is taking on the theme of giving back. We have dedicated a portion of our posts, including The Dime Roll (which we post weekly), to introduce volunteer opportunities across the state, as well as other ways we all can lend a hand or give back to our communities.  

I worked in veterinary medicine for 12 years. Where it was a struggle every day—both emotionally and physically—I loved my job and it was a difficult field to leave. At first I thought I was ready but considering anytime I see a dog or cat I need to touch it, the love of animals, or animal medicine, will never leave me. I often think about ways that I can still be involved in some way and the opportunity to write this post was a way for me to research. There are SO many opportunities not only in Denver but all over the state. No matter what your level of interest or ability, there is a way you can give your time and get a little love in return.

Love Your Strays

Some of the best, and easiest, places to volunteer with animals are at an animal shelter. Even with my background in veterinary medicine working in shelters is hard for me because it can be very emotional. Keep that in mind when you are signing up to help out. That said, if you are able to give your heart for a day, or more, this is a great opportunity to help out where a lot of help is needed. Here are some Denver options for you to choose from to help on different levels. If your local shelter isn’t listed here just call or check out their websites*. They all need help and what animal lover wouldn’t want to sit in a room full of cats for a cuddle?

Denver Animal Shelter
Denver Animal Shelter accepts volunteers of all kinds ages 16 and up. You can help with anything from socialization of cats and dogs to kennel assistance. They offer volunteer classes twice a month so anytime is a great time to start.

Denver Dumb Friends League (DDFL)
There are over 70 volunteer positions available at the DDFL: Writing bios, serving as an adoption counselor, and more. They also have a program for younger animal lovers who want to volunteer. Kids age 12-15 can be part of the Junior Volunteer Club to help out and get experience working in the shelter. See their website for more information.

Organizations like Maxfund not only want volunteers but they rely on them to keep their shelter running. Classified as a “no-kill” shelter, they need people to help with adoptions and greeting potential new animal parents, as well as help care for and socialize the animals. A volunteer orientation must be completed but anyone who is willing is welcome.

*The Shelter Pet Project is a great place to start if you are at a loss for where to look to help. They not only have shelters and rescues listed, nationwide, but you could also find a new furry friend that you just need to bring home.

Lions, and Tigers, and Bears, Oh My!

Denver Zoo
If you are a Denver resident and have your sights set on bigger cats and such, look no further than the Denver Zoo. Regular volunteer opportunities working the front gate or even being on zoo patrol are open. Check out their website for more information.

Cheyenne Mountain Zoo
Adults age 18 and up have the option of being an on-going volunteer, one-time volunteer, or a docent. With the three different ways to volunteer, it’s a great opportunity for anyone. They have a teen program for teens, age 12-17, who want to start their experiences early.

Wild Animal Sanctuary
The Wild Animal Sanctuary is not a zoo. They do not have paid personnel and a slew of employees. Caring for 400+ (and counting) large exotic animals is a huge feat and not for the faint of heart. It is, however, incredibly rewarding to do the hard work for these rescued animals. Rescued from inadequate zoos and circuses (among other poor situations) from all over the globe, they have been delivered to this sanctuary to live out their lives and be free from “entertaining.” Their requirements are strict and regulated. They need reliable people to help them and it is a commitment. If you are willing to dedicate a small part of your life to these animals, check out their website.

I Want to Do More!

Animal Rescue of the Rockies (ARR)
If the shelter is too overwhelming for your heart and you would prefer to focus on one or two at a time, maybe fostering pets is the right route for you. ARR focuses on getting pets out of the crowded shelters and getting them a temporary home until they find their forever home. The hardest thing might be letting them go once they get a home—which is why I cannot foster—but you will be saving at least two lives; the one you brought into your home and the one you made space for otherwise.

Denver Pet Partners (DPP)
Do you and your pet have what it takes to help people? There is one way to find out. DPP arranges classes and assignments for those who are able to use their pet to assist people on a volunteer basis. You and your pet will work as a team to visit the elderly, the ill, and the young. It’s a way to share some of the happiness that your furry friend brings you with others.

This is such a small list of ways to help animals in Colorado. Be sure to research to find the best fit for your time as well as your heart. You won’t be disappointed and you will be making a huge difference for those who cannot speak for themselves.