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Volunteering with a humane society

Duties: Walk, read to and cuddle with dogs

I started a volunteer dog walking position with Rancho Coastal Humane Society. The training was simple. The scheduling is flexible. I can now show up any time to walk the dogs.

While this humane society is not perfect – it has very limited admission, for example – I am excited to be involved. I plan to spend time with the dogs at least every other week, and I hope to inspire a few others to get involved with shelters in their own communities.

Dog adoption Rancho Coastal Humane Society

There are some great features about this organization that I’m excited to get behind. For example:


  • Dogs are housed in twos whenever possible. I never saw this in North Dakota, but it seems necessary in Southern California for space reasons. Plus, the dogs benefit from the companionship.
  • Volunteers are encouraged to sit and read to the dogs in their kennels. I can’t wait to do this! Hmm, live blog post from a kennel?
  • We can walk dogs, take them to an off-leash area or take them home for sleepovers.
  • Dogs receive lots of enrichment, and adopters are provided with valuable info on the dogs’ personalities, energy levels and compatibility with other pets.
  • The paid staff is very outgoing and engaging.
  • Staff and volunteers are taught how to train and reinforce calm, friendly behaviors from the dogs.
  • The shelter is set up to minimize sound. Barking is usually not overwhelming.
  • Volunteers don’t have a set schedule. We can just show up. The shelter found that without a set schedule, volunteers are more likely to stop by more often and more likely to continue volunteering over the long term.
  • Volunteers are encouraged to take dogs to obedience classes and on field trips throughout the community.


(Update: Skeeter and Schmootsie have been adopted! The photo of Skeeter and Schmootsie is from Both dogs are up for adoption at Rancho Coastal Humane Society in Encinitas, Calif.)

What are some ways you have been involved with the animal shelters or rescues in your community?

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Saturday 9th of November 2013

Sorry to be off topic but, the two dogs in this image - what breed/s would they be described as in the US?

Lindsay Stordahl

Sunday 10th of November 2013

The shelter called them toy fox terriers, which was probably accurate since they were owner surrenders.


Tuesday 5th of November 2013

Sounds like a great opportunity! :) Sitting and reading to dogs, too, is a great idea for dogs who would prefer cuddle-time.

Renchan Li

Tuesday 5th of November 2013

Reading this stated policy, I feel that this is a place managed by smart people with smart rules.