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Volunteering with the SPCA de l'Outaouais

Published on July 19th 2023

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Many people write to us every week to offer their help as volunteers. We really appreciate this support, but unfortunately we can't accommodate every request, as our resources are limited! Here's a quick guide to the shelter's volunteer program.

To apply, write to us at the e-mail address provided at the end of this text!

The first thing to know is that we don't have a designated full-time employee to coordinate the volunteer program. Our senior adoption counsellor strives to devote a few hours a week to it, while juggling her other duties.

That being said, volunteering at the SPCA de l'Outaouais requires training, as we have many protocols to follow for the health and safety of both humans and animals!

That's why we give priority to volunteers who are willing to undergo this training, and then devote a few hours each week over the mid- to long-term. It is also very important that each volunteer be autonomous, as we are not in a position to ensure close supervision of each person at all times.

For this reason, we very rarely accept under-age volunteers. When we do, they are given household chores rather than tasks of enrichment with the animals!

Finally, we welcome volunteers mainly during the shelter's weekday opening hours, i.e. Monday to Friday between 9.30 a.m. and 4 p.m. To avoid overloading the shelter, we are unable to welcome groups.

If you think you meet these criteria, read on to find out more about the different tasks available to volunteers!

1)     Cat enrichment

This task involves spending time with the cats, petting them, talking to them and playing with them, while respecting our health and safety protocols.

In the case of fearful, shy or stressed cats, volunteers take part in the desensitization process to make them more at ease with humans. For these situations in particular, it's important that the person has a basic knowledge of feline body language so as not to cause harm to the animal and avoid potential incidents.

To avoid overloading the shelter, we can only accommodate a limited number of "feline" volunteers each day. These people must be of legal age and autonomous.

2)     Dog enrichment

This task requires even more training than feline enrichment, because the risk of incidents is higher! This is especially true since the pandemic, as we now take in canine residents who present more behavioral challenges than ever before.

Our hand-picked "canine" volunteers must undergo extensive training with our canine behaviorist before they can interact with the dogs. They must follow our protocols and techniques for properly harnessing dogs, moving safely inside and outside the shelter, and recognizing signs of discomfort in the animal to avoid incidents.

Their tasks then include walking the dogs, playing with them, brushing them, etc.!

Once again, we can only accommodate a limited number of volunteers for this program. We are often looking for volunteers to walk our large dogs; these people must meet the criteria listed above as well as be strong enough to carry out the task handed to them.

3)     Shelter maintenance

These tasks are the least popular with volunteers, but they help us enormously in caring for our animals!

We're always in need of volunteers to carry out tasks such as washing dishes, doing laundry, cleaning cages and so on. These volunteer shifts also take place during the day, when the shelter is open.

Exceptionally, we may accept volunteers aged 16 and over to carry out these tasks if we feel they have the necessary maturity to understand and respect our protocols!

These procedures are in place to prevent the transmission of disease throughout the shelter, and to ensure the safety of all, as there is always a risk involved in volunteering at the shelter.

If you think you meet our criteria and are willing to take our training courses and give us a few hours of volunteer work a week in the medium or long term, write to us! Don't forget to state your age, relevant experience, availability and what tasks you'd be interested in.

Thank you for contributing to the well-being of vulnerable animals in Outaouais!