Step 1: Meet the Age Requirements to Join our Team
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.
The Pet Partner Program is a wonderful opportunity for children to get involved at the shelter in Tremont. An adult partner must accompany and actively work with/supervise their youth partner in the same volunteer assignment throughout their volunteer experience. Pet Partners may volunteer in most assignments, including those that work with animals. Certain restrictions apply.
Step 2: Attend a Volunteer Orientation
The first step in joining our volunteer team is to attend a Volunteer Orientation. Orientation is held at the Cleveland APL. Orientation is a general educational session that will prepare you for volunteer experience at the Cleveland APL. We provide an overview of the Cleveland APL, a chance to learn more about the opportunities we have available, and general guidelines relating to our program. We want a potential volunteer to be educated about the Cleveland APL and have a chance to meet our staff including our President & CEO. Our staff members directly supervise volunteers, as our program is decentralized to involve more volunteers well. Orientation is intended to help with advocacy in the future and making decisions on how a volunteer’s time is spent at the Cleveland APL.
Advance registration is not required; however, seating and parking may be limited with large attendance. Please be prepared to spend 90-minutes with other animal lovers and APL staff during this session. Doors will close promptly at 6:00 p.m. for orientation. Those who are not on time or are not able to stay for the entire orientation will be asked to attend another session.
The best way to complete a volunteer application is online through our website. Potential volunteers may complete this step either prior to or after volunteer orientation; however, an application is necessary to attend training. An application allows us to create your volunteer file and provides us with a signed release and consent form to complete a criminal background check*. Applications submitted in advance or between orientations are kept on file until you attend orientation. Due to the large volume of applications received, we will not contact you directly upon receipt of your application.
*Criminal background check – we do not accept any individuals with offenses relating to convictions including, but not limited to, animal cruelty or neglect, theft, drugs, or violence.
Step 4: Decide Your Interest
Potential volunteers are presented with a variety of entry-level volunteer assignments based upon our organizational needs at the time of volunteer orientation. Our supervisors intend to provide the important aspects of each volunteer position such as the major objective, duties, training, scheduling, benefits, and other considerations for their positions. Position descriptions are available for volunteers to help you decide how best to spend your time and talent at the APL. Position descriptions may be obtained from the Volunteer Manager. A volunteer may partake in more than one volunteer assignment or specialize in only one assignment—the choice is yours—as long as your time will allow this well. Volunteer interviews may be applicable for certain positions especially advanced volunteer opportunities. If you should need any help making a decision, please contact the Volunteer Manager or the supervisor of the position(s) of which you are interested.
Step 5: Schedule and Attend Training for Your Volunteer Assignment
We provide training to prepare you for your assignment(s), as we want you to be safe and effective in your volunteer role. Our supervisors and/or volunteer coaches conduct assignment-specific training for your knowledge and safety. Training may be a group session or training on-the-job depending on the assignment. Depending on your role, training may last approximately 60 to 90 minutes, and it will be held at the Cleveland APL. Additional support is provided throughout your volunteer experience by your supervisor and other volunteer coaches. Volunteer coaches are an extension of the supervisor, and they will help you individually with your assignment. As another component of training, you will receive necessary on-boarding materials such as our Volunteer Manual. Please note that we require volunteers working at the shelter in Tremont to make a $10 refundable security deposit for your access card to the shelter. Your on-boarding supplies, including your volunteer parking pass, are available for you to pick up at the front desk typically before your first official shift. Volunteer T-shirts are optional and are available for purchase through our online Volunteer Store. The Volunteer Store opens two or more times during the year and you will receive email notification when it opens.
Step 6: Establish a Regular Schedule or Commitment for Your Assignment
Scheduling allows us to utilize your time efficiently and effectively while meeting our organizational needs. Since we rely on our volunteers to help us provide excellent service and care to our animals and clients, those assignments with duties relating to this will be encouraged to have regular weekly scheduling such as the same day and time each week if possible and a commitment of at least two or more hours per shift each week. Volunteers may also give extra time during open scheduling times and when additional help is necessary. Many volunteers find a regular schedule helpful as it allows them to build this important time into their routine although we do understand when some flexibility may be necessary. We utilize an online communication and scheduling system to help with this.
There are some assignments that do not require a regular weekly commitment, but instead, they may be event-driven such as Offsite Adoptions or Special Events. For Offsite Adoptions, a monthly event calendar is available for scheduling. For Special Events, the Volunteer Manager, Events Manager or supervisor of each assignment supporting the event will work with you on your schedule and preparation or training for the event. Your commitment will help the events run well and be successful.
Step 7: Ongoing Communication and Support
Communication builds trust and trust builds a strong team. We strive to keep volunteers informed and updated at the Cleveland APL. A majority of our communication is provided via email. Therefore, volunteers are highly encouraged to have a valid email address that will aid with communication from the Cleveland APL Volunteer Department, the Volunteer Manager, and from your immediate supervisor. Familiarity with other communication systems such as Facebook, Basecamp, VicNet from Volgistics, and Zoom are helpful.
We recognize the need for good reciprocal communication especially when there are changes made when volunteers may not be present. We employ a variety of vehicles to help aid communication; however, the lack of a valid email address may cause communication to suffer. Volunteers will be provided with ongoing communication and support from other volunteers, staff, volunteer coaches, supervisors and the Volunteer Manager throughout your volunteer experience with the Cleveland APL.
Interested in becoming a Cleveland APL Volunteer? We have many exciting and rewarding volunteer opportunities available at both our shelter in Tremont, as well as offsite locations and other special events!