Volunteer Process

Join Our Cause, Get Involved

We are an organization powered by volunteers, caring people of all ages and backgrounds bound by a common love of animals. The Humane Society could not achieve its mission without the dedication of the more than 300 volunteers who donate their talent and time. We are always looking for animal-lovers who want to get involved. It’s a great way to make a difference and make new friends.  After looking over this page, if you still have questions about volunteering, please email Hillary Hooke at hhooke@memphishumane.org .

Volunteer Orientation

At each volunteer orientation, we provide an overview of The Humane Society of Memphis & Shelby County’s programs and services, answer frequently asked questions about our shelter, review available volunteer opportunities, and provide animal handling training (if applicable). We offer general volunteer training as well as specialized training should you want to walk our dogs or learn how to become one of our bottle baby foster parents. Sign up by completing this form online and we will reach out to you with the next available orientation!

After orientation, you will need to purchase your volunteer equipment. This includes a green volunteer t-shirt for the general volunteers or a yellow dog walker t-shirt and approved leash if working with our dogs. These supplies must be purchased prior to your first volunteer shift. All volunteers are required to fill out a volunteer application and waiver of liability.

NOTE: We do require that you please sign up in advance to attending any of the orientations as seats in the class are limited. 



Adult Volunteers (18+ years old):

To become a volunteer at HSMSC you must first attend the Adult Volunteer Orientation where you will learn about HSMSC, our mission and services, as well as the volunteer opportunities available. Typical duties include, but are not limited to: dog enrichment, cat exercise & socialization, dishes & laundry, cleaning, adoption floor greeting, and event support. Limited community events, off-site adoption, and education program opportunities also are available; however, the focus is volunteering on-site at HSMSC.

If you are interested in socializing our cats, there will be an additional short training session partnered with some on the job training when you schedule your first cat house shift.

If you want to walk and socialize our dogs, you need to attend the additional Dog Walking Orientation after completion of the Adult Orientation.


Dog Walking Volunteers (18+ years old):

Help our dogs become more adoptable by giving them much needed exercise and using techniques that teach them behaviors that will help them get adopted and stay adopted. Volunteers must be at least 18 years of age or older to assist “hands on” in our dog walking/training. As a dog walker you will socialize, train, and exercise adoptable dogs by taking them on their daily walks. Services also include: cleaning, filling & passing out the enrichment toy known as KONGS, filling dog water bowls, folding laundry, scooping poop, and other general activities around the facility.

We color-code our dogs and our volunteers to ensure that the advanced dogs are walked by more experienced, specially trained volunteers. Beginner dog walkers must attend the Dog Walking Orientation AFTER attending the Adult Volunteer Orientation.

Purchase your volunteer supplies at the time of your scheduled orientation or before your first day of volunteering. We do ask that you sign up in advance to attend the orientation as seats in the class are limited. New volunteers must complete General Adult Orientation prior to coming to the Dog Walker Orientation.


KPAW Volunteers (13 – 17 years): “Kids Promoting Animal Welfare”

We are evaluating our current needs and will update this section when we get our under 18 volunteer program back open.  We are currently focusing on building out adult volunteer program after the extended time off from the pandemic.


Bottle Baby and Fostering Orientation:

Bottle Baby Fostering and Fostering in general are very important parts of our volunteer program. The training is given as needed.  If you are interested in becoming a Foster, please check out our Foster page and sign up to be a Foster parent here!


Group Volunteer & Community Service Projects:

Thank you for your interest in bringing your business or community organization to HSMSC to volunteer. We have projects available throughout the year that we always appreciate extra groups of volunteers to help with. These projects do not include hands-on contact with the animals in our care, but they are all very important aspects of helping animals in need. Volunteers who help us with animal care go through extensive training and make a weekly commitment to a volunteer position. If you are interested in helping in this way, please read more about general volunteering at HSMSC.

Please commit to volunteering at least two hours to make it worth the time and effort it takes to coordinate a group activity. After your group volunteering shift, we will have a staff member provide your group with some education about our mission, supervised animal interaction, and a behind-the-scenes tour of our facility.

If your group is interested in helping to form a HSMSC group volunteer event:

  • Your group should consist of at least five people.
  • Any children in the group should be at least 12 years old. (Please give advanced notice if there will be anyone under 18 coming to help.)
  • Most (if not all) volunteer work is done outside, rain or shine.
  • Group volunteer work may range from cleaning, facility maintenance, lifting and moving, or special projects as HSMSC requires.
  • Each group will provide a set number of expected volunteers. HSMSC cannot accommodate overly large groups (25+) and the HSMSC will require a minimum number of volunteers depending on the assigned task.
  • Group volunteers will be provided with needed supplies by HSMSC for assigned tasks. Volunteers may want to bring extra task related supplies (gloves, garden tools, etc.). Extra supplies are permitted; however, HSMSC is not liable for lost and/or stolen items.

We ask that our group volunteer project attendees donate a $10 flat fee per person volunteering to HSMSC on the day of their scheduled group project. This donation allows us to provide your group with a dedicated staff member to plan and assist in your volunteer group project and directly benefits the animals in our care.

Schools and nonprofit groups can have this fee waived but are encouraged to bring donations in place of the fee. Please speak with our Volunteer Engagement Specialist when submitting your group project inquiry and if approved, a current donation list will be emailed for your group’s fundraiser.

Group project inquiry is done by emailing your name, business or group name, number of people interested in volunteering, and your requested group volunteer date to: hhooke@memphishumane.org


School Community Service Hours:

The School Community Service Program is designed for students who are required to complete a specific number of community service volunteer hours for educational purposes. We have a limited number of community service volunteer jobs available at any given time, so we encourage you to sign up at least 2 months before your project is due.

Duties in this program are usually general shelter upkeep and assistance (laundry, dishes, floor and wall cleaning, outdoor projects, data entry, etc.): all extremely important, high-demand jobs at the HSMSC. Please note: there is no direct animal interaction guaranteed. When you are accepted for your community service hours, we are happy to sign off on any required hours and paperwork.

If your school community service requirement is 10 hours or more, you must attend the appropriate Volunteer Orientation based on your age. We do require that you sign up in advance, as seats are limited.

If you or your student needs 10 hours or less, volunteering at any one of our community events, organizing a donation drive fundraiser, or creating a personal campaign to raise money for our animals are the qualifying opportunities. Please email Hillary Hooke at hhooke@memphishumane.org for details. Any student is welcome to do a donation drive fundraiser or a personal campaign to earn service hours.


Court-Ordered Community Service (Separate from our General Volunteer Programs):

The Court Ordered Community Service Program at The Humane Society of Memphis & Shelby County is available for individuals who are required to complete court-ordered community service hours within Shelby County and the surrounding areas. Due to limited time and training, Court Ordered Community Service volunteers will not have direct animal contact while working at HSMSC. We are only able to take a limited number of Court Ordered Community Service volunteers, so we do not guarantee that we have opportunities available at any given time.

Court Ordered Community Service tasks will include, but are not limited to: kennel cleaning, laundry, dishes, bathrooms, floors and other cleaning tasks. If you have any physical limitations or health concerns, please let us know in your application, so that we can assess whether we have tasks that accommodate your needs.

  • We CANNOT accept Community Service volunteers with the following charges, either current or past: aggravated offenses, violent crimes, any assault, or animal cruelty.
  • All Court Ordered Community Service volunteers must be 18 years of age or older.
  • We have limited shifts available; depending on your hours needed and due date, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to accommodate your request for community service.
  • All shifts will be scheduled ahead of time; we are NOT a drop-in program.
  • Court Ordered Community Service volunteers will not handle animals.
  • You must have documentation of hours needed and offense committed from a Shelby County court, parole officer, probationary officer, or other mandated service. The court documents must include the parole/probationary officer’s name and telephone number, and DOC number (if applicable), number of hours to be completed, and deadline for completion.
  • Must have a valid ID, driver’s license, passport, or government ID.
  • Must be able to follow directions under HSMSC supervision.
  • Must be forthcoming with the nature of their offense.

Please note that The Humane Society of Memphis & Shelby County reserves the right to refuse a Court Ordered Community Service Volunteer, or ask them to leave, at any time for any reason.

To check for available opportunities and speak to the Court Ordered Community Service program manager, please email at ltiscia@memphishumane.org.


Latest Videos

See some of the recent work we've done here at the Humane Society.