Get Involved

Questions? We’ve got answers.

Take a look at some of our most frequently asked questions. Got a new one?  Reach out to our friendly Volunteer Engagement team by sending a quick note.

The Volunteer Process

Attend a volunteer orientation (see upcoming dates for Marin Humane’s Novato campus, and upcoming dates for Hopalong’s Oakland office).
• After you’ve attended an orientation, you’ll receive a link to our online application.
• We’ll get back to you within a week or two to chat about next steps.

Yes! You’ll receive training that covers all aspects of the role. This might include an additional specialized orientation, on-the-job training, one-on-one mentoring. You’ll be trained by both staff and fellow volunteers.

We’re grateful for your eagerness to get started right away! The training schedule for each program is slightly different, but on average, it’ll begin 1-2 weeks after we receive your application. Volunteering at an animal shelter or rescue is a unique experience! There are many safety procedures to learn with each volunteer role but we’ll try to move you through quickly while ensuring you get the training needed to work safely with animals.

To give the animals the best care possible, we ask that you commit to six months of volunteering on a regular schedule. This helps ensure quality training and consistent volunteer coverage. Of course, we totally understand the need for vacations, sick days, and other needed days off and will do our best to accommodate your schedule! We also have a few opportunities, like Pet Chauffeur and Dog Handler at our mobile adoption events, which don’t require committing to a regular schedule.

We value your prior experience but since shelters operate independently and have different safety and animal handling protocols, we ask that you attend our orientation and complete the training as a new volunteer.

The $30 volunteer fee helps offset the costs of our volunteer program, including your snazzy volunteer t-shirt and badge. But we don’t want this fee to prevent you from volunteering so if it’s a barrier, please reach out.


The quick answer is: it depends! Some volunteer positions (for example, Dog Training Assistant) require extensive training, so we recommend you start in just one position. Other volunteer jobs don’t require a weekly commitment so you’re welcome to volunteer in different departments simultaneously! For example, being a foster parent and animal transporter, or volunteering at our Thrift Shop and as a shelter greeter.

Yes, though we’d guide you to specific volunteer positions if you can’t commit to a regular weekly shift.

No experience is needed for most roles! We just ask for good communication skills and a willingness to learn!

We ask that most volunteers fill a shift at least once a week. You’re welcome to volunteer more often if there’s a need for coverage. Volunteer shifts typically range from 2-4 hours. There are a few roles where you’d be able to sign up for individual shifts as your schedule allows (such as Pet Chauffeur or Dog Handler at our mobile adoption events).

After you’ve attended the general orientation and let us know you’re interested in fostering, we’ll contact you to learn what animals you’d like to foster. We’ll be sure to try to find you the right fit! Foster volunteers are not expected to take an animal who’s not a good fit for their home or family.

I’m under 18 and I want to volunteer!

For the safety of our volunteers and animals, you must be at least 18-years-old to volunteer in a regular role. But there are lots of other ways for you to support animals and learn about animal welfare! We have special programs for young people who love animals and want to learn more about how to help the world become a more humane place. You can also consider having your parent or guardian become a foster volunteer. Although the primary volunteer must be at least 18, the entire family can participate in the fostering experience!
Unfortunately, since a lot of the volunteer work is in a confined space like a dog kennel or cat room, we aren’t able to accept partnership volunteering teams. For safety reasons, all volunteers must be able to work independently. Volunteers must also individually complete the application process. Our foster program is a great way for young people and parents to have a rewarding volunteer experience together. Although the primary volunteer must be at least 18, the entire family can participate in the fostering experience.

Partner, Group, and Mandated Volunteering

Unfortunately, we can’t allow parents or guardians to volunteer with children under 18, due to safety concerns. Our foster program provides a great opportunity for families to volunteer together by caring for an animal in your home! As foster volunteers you and your child(ren) would volunteer by caring for animal(s) in your home.

If you’re over 18 and unable to volunteer independently, please contact us directly.

Yes! We have a few opportunities for groups, like getting our campus ready for special events (cleaning, set-up, etc.). While these opportunities don’t include working directly with animals, your group may just get a visit from a furry friend! For more opportunities for groups, check out the Center for Volunteer & Nonprofit Leadership (CVNL).

Due to COVID-19 precautions, we are not currently offering opportunities for court-ordered community service.