Volunteer with Animal Services

Interested in volunteering?

AS OF MAY 2018, we are not seeking new volunteers at this time.  The City of Palo Alto is currently in contract negotiations with Pets In Need for a public-private partnership.  Please check with other local shelters for their volunteer opportunities, and feel free to check back with us in a few months time. Thank you.


Volunteers play an important role by augmenting the staff at Animal Services and providing animals with extra care, companionship and training. Clean, calm, well-socialized animals have the best chance of getting adopted, and volunteers help by acting as exercisers and animal attendants. We also have volunteers who assist visitors, make appointments in our clinics, help reunite pets and owners and explain local animal control laws. All these jobs help us meet our goals for animal welfare and community protection. Please Note: We have a minimum age requirement of 16 years old for volunteering even if accompanied by an adult.

Volunteer Positions with Animal Services

Dog Attendant:

  • Take dogs to the play yard for socializing and exercise;
  • Take dogs on leash for 15-20 minute walk;
  • Train dogs to respond to basic commands.

Cat Attendant:

  • Take cats from their cages to the play areas for socializing;
  • Groom and give affection to the cats and kittens;
  • Assist potential adopters in meeting the right cat for their home.

Rabbit Attendant:

  • Take rabbits out of their hutches and exercise them in the play area;
  • Give affection and groom rabbits and help socialize them.

Office Assistant:

  • Answer questions from the public on the phone and in person, and provide assistance with shelter services and customer support;
  • Schedule appointments for Spay and Neuter Clinic;
  • Make pre-surgical reminder calls;
  • Assist with discharge of animals from the clinic;
  • Take lost and found animal reports.

Foster Volunteer:

  • Take animals into their homes temporarily to give them special care until they are adoptable. For example, an individual might take home three newborn kittens or a puppy to raise until they are eight weeks old when they can be made available for adoption
  • Fostered animals have a greater chance of adoption because they have been well socialized by the volunteer at home;
  • Foster volunteers need to be at home for much of the day.

Special Projects Volunteer:

  • Volunteers who can not work a regular shift at the Shelter may wish to use their talents for various projects
  • Talents that are always in demand are photography, graphics and design, promotional and writing skills, brochure distribution and assisting at Special Events.

Time Commitment

Dog, Cat, and Rabbit Attendants are scheduled for two-hour shifts once a week.  Office Assistants customarily work three-hour shifts each week. We ask for a minimum of a six-month commitment.