Volunteering With Animals
Volunteer Ann Smalley shares her story of volunteering with a dog rescue.

Active Living Profiles

13846898_mAnn Smalley works full-time, has three dogs, is a wife, and a mother of two. But to her, volunteering isn’t just one more thing to do; it’s an important and fulfilling part of her daily life.

For the past seven years, she’s been a volunteer with Pit Bull Rescue San Diego, a nonprofit dedicated to rescuing, rehabilitating, and rehoming pit bulls in Southern California.

Finding a Passion

“My love of animals and the plight of pit bulls motivated me to start volunteering,” Smalley says. “I just could not bear to hear the myths about those wonderful creatures. I felt like I needed to do something to help them.

“I have served in many capacities over the past seven years. My favorite role was being a foster mom. I have fostered over 60 dogs. I have also hosted adoption and fundraising events, and actively work on adoptions and recruiting foster parents.”

What keeps her motivated? “The unconditional love of a dog,” she says. “You just look into those eyes and know what you are doing is making a difference.”

Making Time

Smalley fits in all of her volunteer work by cutting out TV and involving her family in volunteer work.

“I rarely watch TV. It is amazing how much time of your life you get back by turning the TV off,” she says. “I spend oodles of time with my kids – they are both in scouting, so volunteering is a family event.”

Advice for Others9636391_m

As an experienced volunteer, Smalley suggests those interested in volunteering with a shelter or rescue group should reach out to local organizations.

“My advice is, just ask. Rescues need people with all types of skills – from walking dogs, to taking pictures of the animals and doing paperwork. If you have time to help with computer work, just ask them if they need help,” she says.

That same advice also applies to other types of volunteer opportunities. Determine what you are interested in doing, how much time you have to give, and then seek to find the right fit in your community.

For those interested in volunteering with animals but who have concerns that it might be too emotionally difficult, Smalley offers advice. “Yes, you grow fond of the dogs. You think it will be hard to part with them when they are adopted. That is not the case at all,” she says. “You will have this great sense of joy and accomplishment. You saved a life! It’s addicting, and you will find yourself wanting to save another.”


AARP Volunteer page – AARP.org

Top 10 Reasons to Volunteer at Your Local Animal Shelter – HumaneSociety.org