How To Volunteer
Volunteers are vital to Furry Friends Refuge’s success. Our volunteers make it possible for us to help between 150 and 250 animals located at the shelters and in foster care each day.
We have four different applications, depending on the reason you’re seeking to volunteer. They are general volunteers, school requirement (Silver Cord or other individual service project), group volunteers (corporate groups, youth groups, etc.), and court-mandated community service.
Please scroll to the appropriate section on this page for instructions and the specific form to fill out.
1. General volunteers
If you are volunteering simply because you want to, start by filling out a volunteer application and waiver. Please note the following age restrictions:
♦ Under 12: Please see junior volunteer section below.
♦ Under 14: An adult must be present with you in the same room. The adult can only supervise two children at a time.
♦ Under 16: An adult must be present in the building, but does not have to be in the same room.
♦ All volunteers under 18: A parent/guardian must sign the volunteer waiver.
After completing your application, attend one of our volunteer orientations. Orientation is held the first Saturday of each month from 9 to 10:30 a.m. and the third Tuesday of each month from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at our West Des Moines facility. There’s no need to sign up in advance — just attend whichever session works best for you.
At the end of orientation, you will be able to choose the opportunities that most interest you. The team leader of those programs will connect with you to get you involved. Learn about what’s available on our Volunteer Opportunities page.
** Also: Don’t forget that many companies, including Wellmark, Meredith, and Athene, will donate to the nonprofits where their employees volunteer! **
If you are an active volunteer with Furry Friends Refuge and would like to involve your children who are under 12 years of age, they are welcome to participate in our junior volunteer program. If you are not currently a volunteer, see above for information on becoming one; please do not bring your child to orientation, however.
Each adult volunteer may provide supervision for two junior volunteers and must be present with them at all times. Learn more about on-site and off-site opportunities at our Junior Volunteer page.
2. School requirements (individual projects)
If you are volunteering for a school project (such as Silver Cord), start by filling out this application.
You will receive a link to an online signup sheet for specific projects around our shelters. You do NOT need to attend an orientation session; staff will supervise and direct you. Because of this, your choice of times/dates/tasks will be limited.
If you are under 18, your parent/guardian must sign the appropriate spot on the waiver. If your parent/guardian does not sign, you may not volunteer.
Your parent/guardian is encouraged to fill out a general volunteer application and attend orientation, but it is not mandatory.
Additionally, please review the age restrictions listed under General Volunteers to ensure adequate supervision.
3. Group projects (corporate groups, youth groups, etc.)
If your employer, church group, youth group, etc., is looking for an on-site volunteer opportunity, please have the contact person for your group fill out this form. (Only one member needs to do this.)
All members of the group must still fill out a volunteer waiver.
A staffer will contact you with information about times and tasks that are available within 72 hours of your submission (which we need to identify whether experienced volunteers are available to guide you). Because you will be supervised, you do not need to attend orientation.
Please note that because our space and resources are limited, we must restrict the size of groups to eight at West Des Moines (six if it’s during business hours) and four at Des Moines.
We always welcome supply drives and off-site fundraisers. A list of items we always need can be found here.
4. Court-mandated community service
Under some circumstances, you may fulfill court-mandated community service requirements at Furry Friends Refuge. We review applications approximately every two weeks and make a determination on an individual basis, so you must provide thorough details on the nature of your offense.
We will not consider anyone who has been charged, either presently or in the past five years, with the following violations: assault, domestic abuse, harassment, neglect/cruelty to animals, theft, dishonesty (including forgery).
We may consider those charged with drug offenses, under some circumstances.
If you believe your conviction fits these qualifications, fill out this application/waiver for staff to review. This process is done approximately every two weeks, and we will contact those accepted with details of when they may volunteer and what tasks they may perform.
Please note: If you have no criminal history, do NOT fill out this form. Return to the top of the page to find the appropriate form for your volunteering situation.