A dog sits at the Humane Society waiting to be adopted. Youth volunteers prepare the shelter pets for adoption, among other things.
Photo by Sadie Tresnit

The Oregon Humane Society (OHS) was founded by just fourteen volunteers in 1868, and still relies on volunteers today. The organization is able to help over 11,000 animals per year, largely thanks to community donations and assistance. In short, volunteers keep the society running, and many of them are teenagers in the youth volunteer program. This program is available to anyone between the ages of 12-17 who is interested in socializing and caring for the shelter animals, ranging from dogs and cats to small animals such as rabbits and rats.

OHS provides many services, most notably animal rescue and adoption. On location, OHS has rooms of cats, dogs, and small animals available for adoption. Their animal rescue team evacuates animals from dangerous areas, rescues stranded pets, and saves animals who become trapped in tight spaces. Their website also provides information on how to prepare for natural disasters with pets. While youth volunteers don’t go out and rescue animals, they do a lot of behind the scenes work that’s essential to the functionality of the organization.

Youth volunteers do a variety of activities with the shelter pets, including walking the dogs, socializing animals, grooming the pets, and cleaning the animal areas at OHS. According to current volunteer Ruby Burke (9), the application process is similar to a job application with all animal-related questions. Volunteers have a regularly scheduled two hour shift every two weeks, which they attend with other youth volunteers. OHS will be accepting applications again in the spring, according to their website. According to Burke, the benefits of volunteering are great. “It feels special to be able to help out the community and I was so happy to be a part of this program,” she says.

OHS encourages anyone with a passion for helping animals to apply for a volunteer position. “I’m really passionate about helping shelter dogs, and I strongly believe in adopting dogs and not ‘shopping’ for them. [I also] love spending time with animals and when I’m older I hope to head my career path towards animals,” says Burke. This focus on and love for animals is exactly what makes a perfect volunteer candidate for the organization.
The youth volunteer program at OHS is a way for high school students to positively impact their community. Volunteers prepare the animals there for adoption, giving rescue animals a second chance at a good life, and improving the lives of those who adopt them. To join the program, prospective volunteers can apply under the volunteer tab of the Oregon Humane Society website this spring.