Volunteer Frequently Asked Questions

How do I get involved as a volunteer?

Since we employ a large team of volunteers at the Cleveland APL, we have a structured volunteer process to help make us more efficient and effective when involving our valuable volunteers to serve our mission.  Please see the Steps to Become a Cleveland APL Volunteer for further information.

How old do you have to be to become a volunteer?

To volunteer independently, you must be age 16 or older.  Volunteers 16-17 years old will need parental consent on their volunteer application.  Volunteers 9-15 years old may volunteer with an adult partner, typically a parent or guardian under our Pet Partners Program.

Can I get involved right now?

Volunteers are a valuable resource for the Cleveland APL, and we need a large volunteer team to best serve our mission.  A large volunteer team requires a structured process for involvement to be successful.  We strive to prepare our volunteers well for their assignments, which takes time and planning.

Although you may be familiar with animals in a home setting, working with animals in a shelter environment is different.  There is a lot to know about our shelter and how to complete tasks properly for the health, safety and well-being of our animals, staff and our volunteers.  Not all of this can be accomplished on an immediate basis without a potential negative operational impact to our shelter and your own personal safety.

How and when are volunteer orientations scheduled?

We typically host assignment-specific orientations depending upon our needs, major special event schedule and other factors.  Due to our special event schedule, which may change each year, and we cannot publish dates of orientations in advance.  After orientation, volunteers are trained onsite to learn their role(s).  We like to give on-boarding volunteers personalized time and attention to help train them in their role(s).

While we understand that you might like to get involved as quickly as possible, it is rather difficult to bring volunteers aboard individually or outside of our planned process.  The volunteer process is a team effort between the Volunteer Manager, supervisors and volunteer coaches – many of which whom have a variety of job duties to accomplish – in addition to on-boarding new volunteers.

Our volunteers are an invaluable resource whom are given due time and attention in joining our team, and we are more effective by utilizing our structured process of involvement.  Therefore, it is best to wait for the next scheduled orientation.


What if I can’t make a regular weekly commitment?

Please see Step 6 of the volunteer process for further information on commitment.

You might want to volunteer for special events or offsite adoptions, or work on an occasional special project. If you can’t give of your time but still want to help, you can:

•    Donate animal care items from our Wish List;
•    Make a monetary donation;
•    Attend one of our events;
•    Shop at our retail store or online;
•    Spay or neuter your pet; or
•    Adopt an animal from our shelter.


What hours are available for volunteer service?

Our volunteer hours are: Monday to Friday: 6:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Saturday: 6:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday: 6:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Volunteer shifts are specific to each assignment within our volunteer hours.

Are there group volunteer opportunities available?

Yes, but they are for smaller groups of adult volunteers and may be limited depending upon our needs and timing of the request.  We do not offer youth group volunteer activities, as we do not have a humane educator on staff.  Please keep in mind that group volunteer opportunities do not involve work with our animals or clients, and advance notice is required. Group volunteer opportunities are typically those assignments that are easy to train and that can be completed in a day or less. Please complete this form to express your interest: https://clevelandapl.org/group-volunteer-project-request/

Otherwise, collecting and donating items from our Wish List is a fun and rewarding way for a group to support the Cleveland APL in addition to participating in the phone bank for our annual WKYC Fur-Get-Me-Not Telethon and Dick Goddard’s APL Telethon on Fox 8.


Do you accept volunteers for court-ordered community service?

Yes, but we do not accept any individuals with offenses relating to convictions including, but not limited to, animal cruelty or neglect, theft, drugs, or violence.  To be considered, court-ordered community service volunteers do not need to attend a volunteer orientation at the Cleveland APL.

Placement for service begins with Court Community Service (CCS), a referral agency for this type of service.  For more information about CCS, visit their website by clicking on this link: http://www.ccservice.org/

Please contact CCS at 216.771.2222.  Please request to be placed at the Cleveland APL on Willey Avenue in Cleveland.  CCS helps to standardize reporting for all involved.
CCS volunteers placed at the Cleveland APL help to provide general cleaning support in easy to train assignments like laundry, dishes, mopping, and the like.  CCS volunteers do not interact with animals or clients.


I am already a Foster Care Volunteer at the Cleveland APL.  Do I need to follow the Steps to Become a Cleveland APL Volunteer?  

Yes.  Although you have already completed the process specific to the Foster Care Program, volunteering in the other opportunities is much different for caring for animals in your home.  We want to prepare you for success in volunteering with animals or clients at our shelter in Tremont, at offsite and/or special events.  Our volunteer process allows us to do this well.

Do I need to have proof of COVID-19 vaccination to volunteer at the Cleveland APL?

Yes. Volunteers of all ages who would work onsite at the Cleveland APL must present proof of COVID-19 vaccination (dose one and two of the COVID-19 vaccine).  As one team, we have a mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policy for our staff and volunteers.  Our goal is to protect the health and safety of everyone at the APL.  Facemasks are optional at this time.  However, this is always subject to change, as we continue to follow the guidelines of the CDC and state of Ohio. Please note that the policy does allow for exceptions and reasonable accommodation requests for religious or medical reasons as substantiated and approved by the Volunteer Manager and Sr. Director of Human Resources. This policy does not apply to Foster Care Volunteers whose work is conducted primarily in their own homes and not onsite at the shelter.