Volunteer Opportunities

The Humane Society of Western Montana's goal is to ensure that every pet in the shelter gets a minimum of 20 minutes of human contact daily. Studies have shown that 20 minutes of human contact daily can make a difference in the life of a homeless pet. It decreases the pets anxiety which can cut down stress related illnesses and make them 'show' better to potential adopters.

A lot more goes into running a shelter than just the direct care of animals. We need lots of help maintaining our facility with things like weeding, building upkeep, kennel repair, making and preparing treats and enrichment activities, and much more. Every job we find a volunteer for is a job we don't have to budget for, and that leaves more resources for the animals. 

Because training new volunteers requires an investment of time and the animals are depending on you, we do require volunteers to sign up for weekly shifts and be able to make at least a three-month commitment to work directly with the shelter pets. We realize that you may not be available for every shift, but we request advance notice so we can fill your shift.

If you think you have the time and skills to volunteer with us please review the positions and available shifts below. Your help in the shelter, out in the neighborhoods or in your own home can and does make a world of difference for the animals!

How do I become a volunteer?

Follow our volunteer Facebook page to see all our volunteer program updates and current opportunities!

1. Do you fulfill our requirements to volunteer?

  • You want to help animals in the shelter de-stress and get adopted
  • You are physically capable of performing the position you're applying for - Dogs are enrgetic and can jump and pull. Working with them requires being able to physically restrain them and provide vigorous exercise, sometimes in inclement conditions. Cats require being able to stand and interact with them for a half hour at a time. They can scratch and bite if stressed.
  • You are willing to learn new skills - All our volunteers get training throughout their volunteer careers
  • You're willing to be open minded, flexible, and positive about animals in the shelter, adopters, surrenderers, training/handling strategies, and Humane Society Policies, even if they don't align with your personal views
  • You're willing to commit to the shelter - We typically require volunteers to sign up for a pre-scheduled weekly shift and commit to that schedule for at least three months

2. Look at the volunteer positions below

3. If you think you're a good fit for a position and you can fill one of the available shifts, submit an application!

Volunteer Positions

Current Volunteer Opportunities: 

  • ENRICHMENT TEAM - These volunteers are responsible for creating and distributing enrichment materials to all the pets in our care.  This can be things like stuffing kongs, preparing meals, offering novel toys and scents, etc… All our enrichment activities are scheduled by our behavior team so that we can be sure the pets are getting a variety of enrichment opportunities each day.
    Another one of the tasks these volunteers are responsible for is helping us get puppies started off on the right paw! You are able to work one on one with each puppy and start working on building social skills, desensitizing to handling, and increasing adoptablility!

    This is the first step towards more advanced volunteer positions like dog walking.

  • Visitor Volunteers - We understand that there are so many people in our area who want to come volunteer at HSWM! We also understand that not everyone is able to commit to a structured schedule. We do not want that to be a barrier for you.  We want to invite you to come to the shelter during any of our open hours to be visitor volunteers. We have a sign in station when you enter the lobby, just sign in, read over the waiver and instructions and head on in to see the pets!
    Visitor Volunteers are able to do things like; Spend 20 minutes with a shelter cat, teach a cat a trick, create enrichment, take adorable photos, drive by treats and quiet kennel training for dogs. These are some of the most important activities that our previous cat socialization volunteers have always done, but now you can create your own schedule and come in whenever we are open.
    Visitor Volunteering is a great opportunity for kids under 18 years old!  Children must always be acompanied by a parent or guardian.
  • Cat Cleaning Assistant - These volunteers come in for one morning a week and help staff clean, feed, and get the cats ready for the day. It usually takes between 1-2 hours, depending how many cats we have in the building. While it's not a very glamorous task, it is incredibly important to maintaining a high quality of life for the cats in our shelter, keeping stress levels low, and ultimately getting cats adopted! If one of those shifts works in your schedule please consider helping out the cats! Must be at least 18 years old to apply.
  • Dog Cleaning aSsistant - Dog Cleaning Volunteers – These volunteers come in for one morning a week and help staff deep clean the dog kennels and get them set up for the day. It usually takes between 1-2 hours, depending how many dogs we have in the building. While it's not a very glamorous task, it is incredibly important to maintaining a high quality of life for the dogs in our shelter, keeping stress levels low, and ultimately getting dogs adopted! Must be at least 18 years old to apply.

We are always looking for people who want to help in ways besides directly with animals. These roles include weeding, facility upkeep, humane education presenters, board of director committees, events, and more. If you would like to help with any of these other activities, please apply here!

Click here to review the Adult Volunteer Waiver before submitting an application

Fill out the volunteer application here.

If you submit an application for a position that does not currently have any openings, we will hold your application for 6 months and contact you seem like a good fit for a position that opens up. We prioritize applications for open shifts, so we often can't reply to every application for a closed position.

Volunteer Groups

We can accommodate groups of up to about 10 participants at one time.  If your group is larger than 10, we may need to split your group into multiple shifts. Volunteers need to be at least 18 years old, or if under 18, they must be accompanied by at least 1 parent or guardian per 4 children. Due to the volume of inquiries we receive we cannot guarantee requests can be met. Scheduling at least two weeks in advance will help us ensure we can get you in!

Tasks we need help with include but are not limited to:

  • Weeding flower beds, raking gravel in outdoor runs, picking up poop, and trail maintenance
  • Facility maintenance and cleaning
  • Kennel cleaning
  • Filing and organization
  • Creating enrichment toys and preparing treats
  • Event management: running sign-in tables, greeting and directing participants, answering questions, etc
  • Donation drives: gathering much needed supplies from the community
  • Something your group is particularly skilled at!

We know cuddling with dogs and cats sounds like the best volunteering in the world! We put a lot of training into our volunteers, more than you can fit into a one-time volunteering session, to ensure the animals in our care have the best experience, and the best start that we can give them. Being in the shelter is stressful and we try not to add to their stress in any ways we can avoid. We have a dedicated group of trained volunteers that come every day to socialize, train, exercise and cuddle the animals in the shelter. This means it's usually unlikely we can accommodate requests for groups to just socialize with animals at the shelter. Our group volunteer sessions do include a tour and a chance to visit with select animals. 

Community Service

For individuals looking to fulfill a mandated community service requirement:

Due to the training required to work with shelter pets and the fleeting nature of community service volunteers, we match volunteers working toward an hours requirement with cleaning and maintenance roles. Email the Volunteer Coordinator at volunteer@myhswm.org to learn more.

You must be 18 years or older to volunteer without a parent/guardian or adult chaperone.

Fill out our Community Service Volunteer application here! 


Under 18? We would still love your help!

Check out our Kids tab for more information!


Email our volunteer coordinator at volunteer@myhswm.org

Please Be aware that the Humane Society is a busy working environment where pet allergens, cleaning agents and high noise levels exist. Critters may jump on you, leave muddy paw prints and could scratch or bite. Although not all jobs require hands-on involvement with shelter animals, you will almost certainly be working near dogs, cats and other small animals.

Thank you!

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