Animal shelters and rescue groups aren't shy about admitting they couldn't function without volunteers, and lots of them. Some even operate with no paid employees.
The requirements for volunteering are pretty basic and cover just about everyone, we hope. Be dependable, have good people skills and, of course, love animals.
Positions range from cuddling with cats to fostering a homeless hound. And for people who worry they won't be able to resist taking every animal home, there are also behind-the-scene administrative and fundraising duties. Name the skill or interest, and an agency will find you a spot.
Here are a few places that need help.
Humane Society of Tampa Bay The shelter relies on about 300 volunteers to socialize animals, work special events and deliver pet food to senior citizens who have dogs and cats. Walking and exercising dogs is the most popular, but volunteers are also needed to help match animals with prospective adopters and wash dogs. Volunteers must commit to at least 30 hours in six months and one day a week. Orientation session required. 3607 N Armenia Ave., Tampa; (813) 876-7138; humanesocietytampa.org
Hillsborough County Animal Services The government agency needs volunteers to walk dogs, take digital photos of animals, answer phones, and clean and stock kennels. The most pressing need is for transitional homes in which foster families actively seek permanent homes for dogs and cats by attending adoption events and spreading the word to people they know. Orientation session required. The next openings are June 10 and 27. Pet food donations also are needed for people at risk of surrendering their pets. 440 N Falkenburg Road, Tampa; (813) 744-5660; hillsboroughcounty.org/animalservices/
Humane Society of Pinellas The shelter needs people to help dogs and cats become more adoptable by learning positive behaviors, such as no jumping or swatting. Volunteers also sought to work at special events and microchip clinics. Volunteers must commit to at least two shifts a month. Orientation session required. 3040 State Road 590, Clearwater; (727) 797-7722; humanesocietyofpinellas.org
Saddle Up Riding Club Horse lovers can choose from a variety of volunteer opportunities, from grooming horses, cleaning stalls and helping with the therapeutic riding program for people with disabilities. Assistance with fundraising and grant writing also needed. Training session required along with $15 registration fee, which includes a T-shirt. 6080 94th Ave., Pinellas Park; (727) 520-3132; saddleupridingclub.org
Lost Angels Animal Rescue This group takes dogs from shelters and finds them homes. Volunteers sought to foster dogs and sponsor those with medical conditions. The all-volunteer agency also needs donations of dog food, crates, toys and treats. Lost Angels has no shelter but does adoption events every Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Petco at 13127 N Dale Mabry Hwy. (813) 514-0595; lostangelsanimalrescue.org
St. Francis Society Animal Rescue This all-volunteer organization finds homes for unwanted, abused, abandoned, injured and ill domestic animals. It is in need of foster homes for dogs and monetary donations. It has no shelter but does adoption events at the PetSmart in Citrus Park, Pet Supermarket in Town 'N Country and Petco in Wesley Chapel. Check the Web site for days and times. (813) 830-7251; luvamutt.org