Volunteer Opportunities

Volunteer in the Shelter


Animal Companion: 

Keeping animals in our care emotionally happy as a means to increase the adoptability and quality of life for dogs, cats, AND/OR small animals (including rabbits, hamsters, gerbils, rats and guinea pigs). Volunteers may choose to work with one, two, or all three!

Description: Volunteer will assist with cleaning, talk to, pet and socialize with pets from the adoption cages. Volunteer may interact with pets while they are in their cages or take them into a visitation room to cuddle. Dogs may be taken to outside runs as well as the dog park.

Qualifications: Volunteer must relate well to pets and be comfortable handling them. Volunteer must talk to pets in a soothing tone and understand their body language. Volunteer must read ARL literature given out during training. Volunteer must complete New Volunteer Orientation and corresponding animal companion training.

Adoption Counselor:

Assisting members of the public in finding their forever pet, processing paperwork for the adoption, and more!

Description: Volunteer will visit with potential adopters in the adoption area of the kennel and assist them in finding a pet.

Qualifications: Volunteer must have at least 3 months experience, be at least 16 years of age and approval of the Volunteer Coordinator. Volunteer must be knowledgeable about responsible pet care and show proficiency in the adoption process, which includes screening, interviewing and placement of animals into forever homes.

Dog Walker:

Ensuring the dogs in our care have their physical needs met. A short walk goes a long way!

Description: Volunteer will take the dogs outside for exercise and play time, utilizing the grounds and dog park. Dog Walkers sign up to come in on either an AM or PM shift based on their schedules to ensure that we have walkers every day of the week.

Qualifications: Volunteer must be at least 16 years of age and completed Dog Companion training as well as Dog Walking training. Volunteer must be able to explain basic body language and communication along with demonstrations of appropriate collar and Easy Walk harness usage as well as clicker training.

Assistant Dog Trainer:

Helping dog guardians communicate and develop a bond with their dogs with the goal of keeping the dog in its home and reducing the number of dogs turned into shelters because of behavioral issues.

Description: Volunteer will assist ARL Trainers with dog and/or puppy training classes at the ARL or at offsite locations. Volunteer will interact with class attendees and their dogs while demonstrating, explaining and emphasizing the goals of the class.

Qualifications: Volunteer must communicate effectively with dog guardians and relate well to dogs. Volunteer must read ARL-approved dog-training literature and watch recommended videos. Volunteer must have approval of the Pet Behavior & Enrichment Department.

Shelter Dog Behavior Assistant:

Training shelter dogs to have basic manners and be "human focused" as a means of increasing their chances at adoption.

Description: working with dogs in their kennels and outside using positive reinforcement training methods approved by the ARL.

Qualifications: Volunteer must feel comfortable working with the shelter dogs and moving them in and out of the cages/kennels. Volunteer must read ARL-approved training material, watch recommended videos and be approved by the Pet Behavior & Enrichment Department.


Volunteer in the Community


Community Outreach Volunteers:

Reaching out to the public to give them the tools they need to be responsible pet owners through outreach, education, training, and more. Helping people help pets.

Description: Positions Vary. Examples include canvassing houses and making relationships that encourage spay/neuter, transporting dogs and cats from their homes to the ARL for their spay/neuter surgery

Humane Education Volunteers:

Educating the public about pet welfare issues and responsible pet guardianship while promoting the human-animal bond.


Description: Volunteer will work with ARL’s Humane Educator to assist in giving presentations in the community, tours at the ARL, and/or assisting with “Summer Rescuer’s Day Camps”. Volunteer may occasionally take a pre-approved animal to presentations and may also take their personal animal to presentations as approved by the Pet Behavior & Enrichment Manager (personal animals must have TheraPets certification).

Qualifications: Volunteer must believe in the values and objectives of humane education, be comfortable speaking in front of groups and be able to interact well with children. Volunteer must be able to think on his/her feet and answer questions from an audience. Volunteer must be willing to read and become familiar with ARL humane education materials and be approved by the Humane Education Coordinator.

Donation Canister Monitor:

Monitoring and collecting from donation banks in the local community and to recruit new locations.

Description: Volunteer will distribute, monitor, collect funds from and collect banks if needed from locations in the Des Moines area. Volunteer will maintain a list of donation bank locations and monitor them as needed could be bi-monthly or monthly depending on the need. Volunteer will turn in collected funds to the assigned ARL staff within 24 hours of collection. Schedule is flexible.

Qualifications: Volunteer must have a valid driver’s license and a means of transportation. Volunteer should know his/her way around Des Moines and be comfortable interacting with the people at each location and with transporting money. Volunteer must have approval of the Volunteer Coordinator.


Volunteer for Events


Signature Events:

Some examples of volunteer assistance at events include donation procurement, registration assistance, bartending, Animal House sales, selling raffle tickets, and more! Tasks vary by event.

EVENTS: Valentine Apples, Raise your Paw Auction, Dog Jog, Mane Event, Cat's Meow, Galloping Grand Prix, Santa 'N' Paws Photo Fundraiser, Petapalooza, and Tree of Life.

Special Events: Puff and Fluff Dog Wash, Pedal for Paws, Dog Days of Summer, Dog Paddle, Midcourt Mutts, Zumba at the ARL, Yoga at the ARL, and More! We are always adding fun ways to get involved!

Note: Volunteers do not have to fulfill the 2 hour monthly requirement for events that do not require hands on interaction with animals!!