Originally published 3/2/2017. Updated 8/8/2018.
Like other Midwestern cities, Columbus has grown into quite a pet and animal-friendly city.
From farm animals to urban pups to exotic wildlife, the capital city has plenty of opportunities to work with different types of animals. The organizations mentioned below often depend on volunteers to help care for and sometimes rehome animals throughout the city.
The volunteer opportunities range from one-time efforts to whole year commitments, so be sure to find the program that works best for you.
You ready to lend a helping hand to some furry friends?
Franklin County Dog Shelter & Adoption Center
Although the ultimate goal at the Franklin County Dog Shelter is to place pets in their forever homes, the shelter does everything possible to make the lives of the animals who are at the shelter as fulfilled as possible. And they do this with the help of volunteers. From Dog walkers to Kennel Buddies to Shelter Ambassadors, the shelter has opportunities for volunteers interested in just about every aspect of running an animal shelter.
Founded in 1883, Columbus Humane has been helping animals in central Ohio for over 130 years. In order to volunteer, you will have to complete the STEPS program. According to the website, the STEPS program, which is designed for those aged 12 and older, is “21 hours of classroom, clinic and mentored learning about the fundamentals of caring for animals as well as the mission and philosophies of the Columbus Humane Society”. Volunteering activities are wide-ranged but include work with dogs, cats, rabbits and even customers.
CHA Animal Shelter
CHA Animal Shelter, located in North Columbus, is a non-profit, fully-donation funded shelter. Servicing mostly cats and dogs, the shelter encourages volunteers to get involved in the lives of these animals! From age 14 and up, after completing a volunteer questionnaire and orientation, animal lovers can help the shelter in many ways. In the shelter, work includes cat/dog care, maintenance and cleaning as well as assisting potential adopters. Volunteers also help with the office duties of the shelter.
Pets Without Parents
Founded in 2001, Pets Without Parents is a non-profit, no-kill shelter, for all breeds of dogs and cats in Columbus. By relieving kill shelters of homeless pets, PWP gives these furry babies a second chance at the life they deserve. With many ways to volunteer, Pets Without Parents is an organization that values and respects the people who give their time to stand up for animals who can’t stand up for themselves.
Columbus Zoo and Aquarium
If you’re looking for volunteer work with exotic animals, you should absolutely be considering volunteering at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium. The zoo relies on volunteers to run several of the interactive animal exhibits, including the touch pool, Kangaroo Walkabout, Giraffes Shamba, the Cheetah Yard and much more. Volunteers are asked to commit to 55 hours of volunteer work per year and must complete the competitive volunteer application process.
Ohio Wildlife Center
The Ohio Wildlife Center is a great resource for Central Ohio wild animals. Their volunteer program accepts applicants to work in several areas, and with over 200 volunteers, you instantly become part of a large community dedicated to wildlife.
Although you cannot work directly with animals at The Wilds, the help volunteers provide an invaluable resource for the staff. The opportunities for volunteering include greeting visitors, assisting with the Sunset Safari and working in the field with Restoration Ecology.
Located just northwest of Columbus in Marysville, Sunrise Sanctuary is a unique animal sanctuary in Central Ohio. Providing services for several types of animals, the volunteer work isn’t always glamorous. Animal Care volunteers can expect to help with feeding, watering, raking and cleaning out stalls. Sunrise Sanctuary also accepts volunteers for event planning, fundraising, and special events.