Become a Volunteer

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.

Because training new volunteers requires an investment of time and the animals are depending on you, many of our positions 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 if you are unable to make it. Our staff plan their entire day around knowing if they have volunteer help coming. 

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?

  • 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 energetic and can jump and pull. Working with them requires being able to physically restrain them and provide vigorous exercise, sometimes in inclement conditions. Working with cats requires being able to stand and interact with them for a half hour at a time
  • 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

Volunteer Positions

Visitor Volunteers – We understand that not everyone is able to commit to a structured schedule but would still like to help! To participate in our visitor volunteer program, you do not need to fill out our volunteer application and you do not need to schedule your visit ahead of time. Visitor Volunteers can come to the shelter during our open hours (Wed-Sun from 1-6pm) to read through our volunteer waiver and sign in. We have instruction booklets for you to review before you visit with pets. Visitor Volunteers are able to socialize with cats and small animals, take photos for our website/social media, work on in-kennel training with dogs and more! Visitor Volunteering is a great opportunity for kids or folks looking for a minimal number of volunteer hours for community service or classes. Please note: there are not currently any opportunities for visitor volunteers to walk shelter dogs and all children must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.

Date With a Dog – Take a social dog out in the world for a field trip! We’ll send you with a backpack of supplies and an adventure buddy for the morning or one of the days we’re closed for adoptions. Dogs from our shelter are not permitted to visit high traffic or off-leash dog areas like Blue Mountain or dog parks. Dogs are also not allowed to intentionally meet other pets — your resident pets will need to remain at home while you take a shelter dog out! There is no set schedule for Date With a Dog, but availability is dependent on our current dog population. If you’d like to participate in this program, please fill out a volunteer application below.

Cat Cleaning Assistant – This is an incredibly important task for maintaining a high quality of life for the cats in our shelter (though it might not be the most glamorous task!). We ask that you commit to one day a week to help clean spaces and feed cats for the day — this typically takes 1-2 hours depending on the current cat population.

Dog Cleaning Assistant – This is an incredibly important task for maintaining a high quality of life for the dogs in our shelter (though it might not be the most glamorous task!). We ask that you commit to one day a week to help clean spaces and feed dogs for the day — this typically takes 1-2 hours depending on the current cat population.

*Please note that all morning shifts are currently full, but evening shifts (which start around 4:30pm) are open. Please submit an application if you are interested in either shift. You must be at least 18 years old to apply, though kids are welcome to accompany a parent volunteer.

Enrichment Team Volunteer – Do you like crafts and puppies? Enrichment Team is for you! Our Enrichment Team is part of our Behavior Team and together they use creativity and craft skills to help animals at the shelter stay engaged and stimulated while in their kennels. Come once a week during a set time to make shreddable food toys, blow dog’s minds with prey scents, spread calm through the kennels with lavender oils, and more! Enrichment Team also fulfills the difficult task of socializing all our puppies to better accept physical handling, new objects, and meeting strangers. Help make an animal’s stay at our shelter as stress free as possible!

We are always looking for volunteers to help with things like:

  • Laundry & dishes
  • Weeding
  • Facility upkeep
  • Humane education presenters 
  • Board of director committees
  • Events
  • …and more!

If you’d like to help with any of these activities, please apply below! (We will hold your application for 6 months and contact you if you seem like a good fit for a position that opens up)

Volunteer FAQ

Can my whole group come to volunteer?

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 all 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.

Can I complete my community service at HSWM?

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 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!

Can my child be a volunteer?

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!

Kids, you can help too! See the list above for volunteer opportunities or contact the Volunteer Coordinator at for more information. Children must be six years or older to interact directly with the animals at the shelter. Or, check out the non-volunteer ways you can help the shelter:

ORGANIZE A DRIVE: Organize a pet food or supply drive in your school or club. See our wish list for items we use on a regular basis, sign up for a time to tour the shelter and drop off your donations.

COLLECT CHANGE: Organize a coin collection in your school or club. Print out photos and descriptions of adoptable animals to design posters and collection jars and see how much money you can raise in just a few weeks. Designate your donation to our special needs animals fund, our spay and neuter fund or our general operating fund. Every penny counts!

BIRTHDAY TOUR: Ask your friends to bring gifts for the animals in honor of your birthday. See our wish list for items we need on a regular basis. Schedule a tour for your group and have fun giving your toys and donations to the animals yourself.

CLASSROOM VISIT: Invite the Humane Society of Western Montana Humane Educators to your classroom.

Can I complete my high school senior project at HSWM?

Due to limited staff resources we can’t support many senior projects per year and we are unable to accommodate last minute requests. In order to obtain a mentor and complete your senior project through the Humane Society, you must submit a clearly written, complete project proposal.

Please include as many details as possible, including specifically what you need to do at the shelter, what training and support you may need, what you would need from a mentor, how many hours you would need to spend at the shelter and how your project would benefit the animals at the shelter. Please note that we prioritize the most organized projects and urge you to have a detailed plan including your project plan and goals before requesting a mentor.

Typically, fundraising projects are the easiest to accommodate, but we are very open to thoughtful, organized projects of your own choosing. Some previously successful project ideas include organizing a fundraising event like a car wash, bake sale or garage sale and donating.

Please submit your proposal to the Volunteer Coordinator at