Thank you for your interest in volunteering with Helping Paws Animal Shelter.

Join the Helping Paws team and become a Volunteer ‘Rock Star’! Volunteering is a rewarding experience for many and a great way to help our homeless animals and give them a “second chance”. As a mostly volunteer-based organization, Helping Paws is always in need of dedicated volunteers who want to make a difference. If you have a few hours each week or month to contribute your time and talents, then we would love to hear from you. Volunteers do many different kinds of things, including animal care (walking dogs, cleaning cat cages, etc.), assisting during fundraising events, doing data entry, and much more.

Adult volunteer positions are for those ages 18 and older. Helping Paws is looking for volunteers who are willing to make a weekly or monthly commitment to help support the shelter and the animals. We also accept one-time/short-term groups, students and court-appointed community service volunteers. Please fill out the appropriate volunteer application that best fits your situation.

Becoming a Volunteer is as easy as 1, 2, 3!

  1. Complete and turn in the Volunteer Adult Form. If you are a short-term volunteer as part of a school or group project, please fill out the Short-Term Volunteer Application.  For groups that have arranged for a single visit/tour of our shelter, such as schools, scout troops, etc.,  please download and complete the waiver forms for each participant in the group.
  2. Prospective volunteers must attend an informative Volunteer Orientation session to learn about Helping Paws mission, history, and goals, as well as current volunteer opportunities and needs. Volunteer Orientations are held on the first Sunday of every month at 1:00pm and the third Tuesday of every month at 7:00pm. NOTE: Orientations are not required for court-appointed community service or short-term volunteers.
  3. Some volunteer opportunities, like dog walking and cleaning require you to participate in a training session. Our Volunteer Coordinator will contact you to set up day and time for training.

Under 18 Policy

Helping Paws strives to ensure the safety of every volunteer. If you are under the age of 18, the following guidelines must be adhered to:

  • It is required that any minor under the age of 16 who volunteers must have a parent/guardian present with them at all times.
  • You must be 18 years or older to walk dogs at our facility.
  • All minor volunteers must have the waiver on the Volunteer Form signed by a parent or guardian. An Adult Volunteer form must accompany a child’s volunteer application.

NOTE: Helping Paws offers the opportunity for those with court-appointed community service to complete their hours at the shelter, subject to limitations. All court-appointed community service individuals will assist staff with general cleaning, cleaning in the cat rooms, laundry, dishes or other duties as assigned. To schedule, please call the Volunteer Coordinator at 815-338-4400.

Please contact the Volunteer Coordinator at volunteer@helpingpaws.net if you have additional questions. We look forward to having you as part of the Helping Paws team and know you can help make a big difference!

The world would be a nicer place if everyone had the ability to love as unconditionally as a dog.” ― M.K. Clinton, Showstoppers

Volunteer Opportunities

Event Planning/Fundraising

Whether you are a leader or behind-the-scenes kind of person, we could use your support and talents in fundraising for the shelter. Committee meetings are held the first Wednesday of every month at 6:00pm. Please come to a meeting to learn about upcoming events and see how you can help.

Adoption Fairs/Outside Events

These events give us the chance to promote our shelter and bring our animals out to meet the public. Some events are only having a table with information and no animals.

Tag Days/Wish List Events

These events are seasonal. They usually start in May and run through October. Tag Days are when we stand outside grocery stores with our donation jugs asking for monetary donations. Wish List Days are when we stand outside stores with our wish list for people to shop for items and donate to the shelter. Once items are collected we load into a van and unload back at shelter.


Foster care allows pets to live in a home environment temporarily while awaiting permanent placement through the shelter. While Helping Paws does have a large shelter where the majority of the pets are housed, we do have circumstances that require animals to be in foster homes. See more on the Foster Care page or call Helping Paws. *Must be a Helping Paws volunteer for a minimum of 6 months.

Cat Enrichment

If you are a cat lover, then we have the spot for you. People needed to help with routine cat care (brushing, nail trimming), playing with a variety of toys or teaching tricks. Of course we want you to spend time just having them on your lap and loving them up.

Dog Walking (Day & Evening hours)

Our dogs need to be walked at different times throughout the day: Mornings, afternoons and evenings. Training needs to be completed with our lead walker before handling our dogs.

Shelter Cleaning (Dog, cat, or shelter)

This is one of the most important tasks for a volunteer. Cleaning for the cats is generally done first thing in the morning. (8:30-12:00) This entails cleaning cages, litter pans, cat rooms. Major dog cleaning is also done first thing in the morning but also during the day. Shelter cleaning gets done throughout the day; there is something that always needs to be taken care of. If you like things to be clean and tidy; this is the opportunity for you.

Other Opportunities

  • Graphic Design
  • Newsletter Writer/Contributor
  • Grounds/Gardening
  • Maintenance/Handyman
  • Laundry
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