2014 Volunteer Orientation Dates
May 17
August 16, October 11

Sessions start at 9 am


You can make a difference...Volunteer

At the Helen Woodward Animal Center (HWAC), people help animals and animals help people. The Center serves the community by teaching and practicing humane behavior toward man and all living things. Our lives are more precious when trust, unconditional love, respect and care exist as the primary bond between animals and one another.

How to become a Volunteer at Helen Woodward

What is the first step in becoming a volunteer?
All prospective individuals must attend a volunteer orientation and tour. This will help you learn about our volunteer programs; the benefits to the animals and the community; and the commitment involved. Volunteer openings are limited, and are posted at the orientation.
What is the minimum age to volunteer?
The minimum age to volunteer at 14 years old; however some departments require that volunteers must be either a 16 or 18 years of age.
How do I get a volunteer application?
To obtain your volunteer application, download the volunteer opportunities package/application. Please bring your completed volunteer application with you to the orientation.
What is the time commitment needed to become a volunteer?
Volunteer positions require a weekly 3-6 hour commitment for 6 months or 70 hours. Each program will have a different shift times and days where volunteers can assist. They will be highlighted at the orientation.
Is there a time to talk about my specific interests and schedules?
Yes. Within 2 weeks after the orientation, a one-on-one interview is required. Immediately following the orientation, we will forward your application to your top volunteer choices. The Department Manager will review your application and schedule and contact you if they would like to schedule an interview. Interviews are scheduled only if you have completed the orientation and are available for the specific training dates and shift openings.
After attending an orientation and interview, am I guaranteed a volunteer position?
Not automatically. Generally, we accept most of the applicants who apply for the program. However, we cannot guarantee a spot for every individual. At different times throughout the year, we may have more applicants than positions available. Sometimes an applicant’s availability may not meet the timeframe of the program. Additionally, for some of our programs, applicants must have specific animal experience to be qualified for that opening.
Are there specific qualifications for the volunteer positions?
Yes and No. We have a wide variety of volunteer positions and openings. Some require existing experience and others have training provided at the Center. The qualifications and experience needed will be reviewed at the orientation.
When are the dates and times for the upcoming Volunteer Orientations?

Orientation sessions are held on these Saturdays mornings, from 9:00 am to 12:00 noon . To sign up for the orientation, or for more information, please call or email the Volunteer Coordinator at 858.756.4117 extension 370. Be sure to include your name and email address and phone numbers.

Orientations are on the following Saturdays from 9:00 am-noon. 

2014: May 17, August 16, October 11

Can I volunteer at your special events? Do I have to attend a volunteer orientation to participate in these projects?
Yes, we always need help at our fundraisers. We conduct several fundraising events each year, such as The Spring Fling, Surf Dog Surf-A-Thon, HOPE Telethon and our Spooktacular People Pet Walk. You do not need to attend an orientation for these projects; however the tasks do not include "hands-on" activity with the animals. Examples of tasks include: registration, cashiering, check-in, stuffing bags, flyer distribution, etc.
If accepted, when do I start and what is the training schedule?
If accepted, training dates and volunteer schedules are usually assigned within the same month. Each department will have a specific training date and schedule. Some departments have group trainings and others conduct one-on-one training. Group training dates will be announced at the orientation.
Where are the orientations conducted?
At HWAC. Our street address is 6461 El Apajo Rd. in Rancho Santa Fe. Please arrive 10 minutes early to park at our main lot and walk to our lecture hall ‘Morse Hall’. Signs will direct you to the hall. Important parking information: Do not park in hospital or reserved parking spaces. Wear comfortable shoes. Please do not bring pets or small children to the orientation.
Free Center Tours
Tours are conducted during the Volunteer Orientation. If you would like to join us for the tour only, the timeframe is from 9:30-11:00 am . Please do not bring pets or small children to the orientation. To sign up, contact the Volunteer Coordinator at 858-756-4117 x370.
Does Helen Woodward Animal Center offer court-ordered community service?
Under no circumstances will Helen Woodward Animal Center be able to verify any hours for court ordered community service. Please contact the court for a list of participating non-profit organizations to verify your hours.

Volunteer Opportunities

Adoptions / Fostering

Adoption: Pets awaiting their new home need extra love and attention. Working in the Adoptions Department includes exercising and socializing dogs or cats, kennel cleaning, grooming, laundry and clerical duties. Once trained, volunteers are scheduled to come in once a week for a 3-hour shift. Volunteers work with minimum supervision. Volunteers working with dogs need to be physically able to handle very large, enthusiastic dogs. * Volunteers must be at least 14 years old to apply. Openings are very limited.

Foster Care: From time to time Helen Woodward Animal Center receives special pets that need foster care until they are ready to meet their new families and go "home" to stay. Maybe you can provide a safe haven with the love and care these little animal friends. You can become a temporary foster parent to a pet in need. Volunteers provide varying levels of care for orphaned dogs or cats, ranging from a warm quiet place to promote weight gain, to socializing with humans, noises and new surroundings. Our most intensive level of care requires bottle feeding young animals. A separate foster application is required. Foster Parent Application (500k Word .doc) or Acrobat pdf (300k) Length of time needed is 2-8 weeks. The pets are brought back to the Center after foster goals are met.

* Volunteers must be at least 18 years of age.


AniMeals is a pet–food-on-wheels program that provides regular meals free of charge for the dogs and cats of homebound elderly and ill people.

* Route Representatives pick up food from donation bins in pet supply stores, once per week or twice per month. Car necessary .

* Food Packagers custom package a week's worth of meals for each pet (Once per week).

* Meals Delivery People pick up the packaged meals and deliver to Mea ls on Wheels Centers. (Once per week/car necessary).

* Volunteers must be at least 18 years old to make deliveries.

AniMeals Pet Food and Coin Drive

This is an excellent task for junior volunteers between 10-13 years old. Pet food is needed for AniMeals , a pet-food-on-wheels service for the dogs and cats of elderly or disabled people. Working with Meals-on-Wheels and other organizations, AniMeals coordinates pet food donations, meals packaging, and delivery to clients. AniMeals helps elderly and disabled people keep their beloved pets by delivering regular pet meals at no cost. Volunteers may hold a pet food and coin drive at a local supermarket. Parental supervision is required and is done offsite at your local grocery store. Coins for Critters raises funds with coin canisters. Funds support all the Center's programs, including Adoptions, AniMeals, Education, Pet Encounter Therapy, and Therapeutic Riding. The general adult volunteer orientation listed on the cover page is not required. Download the instructions and call to sign up today!

* Junior volunteers 10 years old and up may hold pet food and coin drive at a local supermarket.

Club Pet

Club Pet Volunteer Opportunities 

Club Pet is looking for energetic volunteers to give our boarding dogs and cats lots of attention and T.L.C!  

Volunteers are needed 7 days a week. You must be able to commit to a 3 hour block of time, once per week, for at least 6 months. Our volunteer shifts are 9am to 12 noon, 10am to 1pm, 11am to 2pm and 12 noon to 3pm.  

Our dogs and cats miss their families, so our volunteers step in to give them the love and attention they need while boarding. Volunteers exercise our dogs by taking them on walks and doing off leash field play. For our older dogs, T.L.C. and Cuddle times in the kennel or out in the sun on the lawn are offered. Our cats look forward to their Feather time sessions. Felines also enjoy Bubble time, Cuddle time and T.L.C. sessions with our volunteers as well.  

Volunteers must be at least 16 years old. Volunteers must also pass our dog handling class, which is given as part of the Club Pet Volunteer orientation and training program.

Therapeutic Riding Program

Therapeutic riding emphasizes the use of the horse as a means of recreational sports riding for individuals with challenges. The lesson provided is instrumental in improving a rider’s emotional, social and physical development. * Volunteers help to provide the necessary environment of support, education, and therapy. * Volunteers assist in individual lessons, either as leaders of the horse or as side walkers, helping the rider with balance and motor skill planning. * Care and grooming of the horses are also involved. * Volunteers must be able to help lift and support an adult rider. Volunteers do not have the opportunity to ride our horses. A background of lessons or comparable horse experience is required for all volunteers.

* Minimum age is 16 years old, however, junior volunteer openings (ages 16-17) are limited.

Equine Hospital Volunteers

Volunteers in the Equine Hospital assist the technicians with cleaning and animal husbandry. This opportunity is generally for those studying large animal medicine.

* Another volunteer position is helping in the office on weekdays. Shifts are once a week for 6 hours.

* Extensive experience with horses is required.

*Volunteers must be 16 years old.

Pet Encounter Therapy (P.E.T.)

P.E.T. involves taking a variety of animals to visit patients in convalescent homes, hospitals, shelters, and mental health facilities.

* Volunteers use Center owned rabbits, guinea pigs, reptiles and birds. The only dogs used in this program are owned by individual volunteers, after screening by P.E.T. personnel. Ask the Manager of Volunteer Services for screening forms to find out if your pet is suited for this type of volunteer work.

* This rewarding program requires patience and an outgoing personality.

* Volunteers must be 18 years old. 

Exotic Animal Care Assistants

Volunteers assist the technicians with husbandry, cleaning and grooming of the small animals used in our Education and Pet Encounter Therapy programs.

* Volunteers care for rabbits, reptiles, birds and other small rodents. This opportunity is generally for those with small animal experience.

* Volunteers must be 18 years old.

Horse or Barn Animal Care Assistants

Volunteers help care for our larger animal friends, working with the barn animals (goats, sheep) or horses, cleaning animal stalls, including water buckets, and raking aisles .

* Groom and exercise farm animals or turn out horses to designated pasture areas.

* Volunteers must have extensive horse or hoofed animal experience. Ability to work independently and safely with minimal supervision is essential.

* Volunteers must be 18 years old.

* Volunteers must be 18 years old.

PAWSitively Pets Gift Store Assistants

Volunteers assist staff in final adoption paperwork, pet supply sales and answer phones. Be a part of sending an animal home with its new family! Customer service experience needed. Ability to learn to use computerized register required.

* Volunteers must be 18 years old.


Junior Volunteers:
Our Critter Camp program has week-long sessions in December/January, February, April, and throughout the summer.

Junior volunteers (JVs) help instructors teach pet responsibility to PreK-8th grade students, resulting in greater compassion for all living things. They serve as role models for campers while assisting with the set-up and clean-up of camp activities, monitoring children's break times, and assisting with supervision.

* Important note regarding summer camp JV applicants: This program has a separate application, interview and training program to teach classroom leadership skills and determine junior volunteer readiness to be classroom assistants. The Summer JV application is available in January.

Volunteers must be enrolled in or entering 9th grade and above. They may be no older than 17. Summer volunteers must be able to commit to one full week-long session, Monday through Friday.

Special Events

To provide the care, food, medical needs for the animals, the Center coordinates a variety of fundraising events, including the Spring Fling black tie event; Surf Dog Surf-a-thon, HOPE Telethon and Puppy Love 5K Run/Walk event.

* Volunteering only for events does not require the general orientation and tour.

* It does require a 5-6 hour shift on the day of the event.

* Different tasks will be announced per event. Examples include: setup, take down, registration, refreshments, auction sales, cashiering, parking directors, course marshals, etc. Limited positions are available for junior volunteers, 14 and up, with parental supervision at the training and the event.

* The age varies from each event and will be announced when recruitment begins.

Fundraising and Sponsorship Internships

Be a part of planning fun and productive events. Opportunities are available to take on support roles for fundraising events. Duties include marketing and fundraising, planning and completion of tasks within deadlines, clerical and phone assistance, preparation of mailings, set up and take down on the day of the event, etc. We have two projects in which volunteers / interns are needed. They include our Fundraising/Sponsorship Internship and our Surf Dog Surf-A-Thon. To see a task description, download the information. This is a fantastic opportunity for someone who is working towards an event management, marketing, business or fundraising degree or certificate. Attention High School Juniors / Seniors: These are great projects for college applications. To submit a resume and arrange for an interview, contact Steve Miller, Sponsorship Supervisor at Stevem@animalcenter.org or call 858.756.4117 ext. 312.
* Volunteers must be 16 years old.

Helen Woodward Cares for Critters Outreach Program

Show your love for animals just by talking to people! Our Helen Woodward Cares for Critters Outreach program is a perfect way for outgoing volunteers to educate the public about Helen Woodward Animal Center. We visit various shopping malls, stores, and public areas on weekends with adoptable pets, donation canisters, and Center literature. We answer questions about the Center, collect donations, and promote goodwill in the community. It's a great opportunity for people who want to help the Center but don't have time for a long-term commitment. You must be at least 14 years of age or older to volunteer with this program. You will also need to complete and pass an Animal Handling Training class in order to handle adoptable animals at the events.

Office Assistants

We often joke that the animals will not do any "paper work", but the reality is that the office, administrative tasks part of the making our programs successful for the people and animals that we serve. The Center uses Microsoft Office software, including Word, Access and Excel. We need volunteers who have organizational skills and attention to detail.
* Volunteers must be 16 years old.