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 on our needs, major special event schedule, and other factors.  Due to our special event schedule, which may change each year, we cannot publish dates of orientations in advance.  After orientation, volunteers are trained onsite to learn their role(s).  We like to give onboarding 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 have a variety of job duties to accomplish – in addition to onboarding new volunteers.

Our volunteers are an invaluable resource who are given due time and attention in joining our team, and we are more effective by utilizing our structured involvement process.  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;
•    Explore our Cat, Dog, or Fundraising Do-It-Yourself Service Packets;
•    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 on our needs and the 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.

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.

Can I complete community service hours for school?

Yes, through off-site projects, not on-site service. Community service hours for school or service learning is a valuable way for kids to “give back” to the community. Many local schools require students to perform volunteer work at a non-profit organization. Because of the large number of students in need of service hours, we are unable to accommodate them onsite. Students, who need a short-term project to fulfill service hour requirements, can take a look at our Do-It-Yourself service packets for ideas and further information. You can view our service packets for Dogs, Cats, or for Fundraisers.

Please also know that shelter volunteers, including Pet Partners, must go through a regimented training process and make a regular, long-term commitment; therefore, we cannot accommodate students wishing to work in the shelter for student service projects. If you need your service hours signed off on please use this Tracking and Verification Form. When donations are brought in our staff would be happy to sign off on the service hours and make a copy for our own records.