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.
The best way to complete a volunteer application is online through our website. Potential volunteers that submit an application will be invited to attend any upcoming orientations via email. An application is necessary for 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 3: Attend an Assignment-Specific Orientation
Orientations are held virtually via Zoom. Orientation is an educational session that will prepare you to volunteer at the Cleveland APL. We provide an overview of the Cleveland APL, specific, detailed assignment training, and the next steps to get involved with your onsite, in-person training with our volunteer coaches and/or supervisors.
You will be provided with the link to register for orientation via email once scheduled. The training is virtual to allow you to learn the material in the comfort of your own home. The training will last no more than two hours. Volunteers must be present for the entire orientation.
Step 4: Schedule Onsite Training
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 conduct virtual assignment-specific training for your knowledge and safety. Volunteer coaches are an extension of the supervisor, and they will help you individually with your assignment. As another component of your training, you will receive necessary on-boarding materials such as our Volunteer Manual, from your volunteer coach or supervisor. Please note that we require volunteers working at the shelter in Tremont to make a $10 refundable security deposit for your key card to access the shelter. Your on-boarding supplies, including your volunteer parking pass, are available for you to pick up from your supervisor before your first individual 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 5: 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 6: 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, Zoom, VicNet from Volgistics 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!