Our Volunteer Caregiver Program
Volunteer caregivers play a very important role in the lives of the animals in our sanctuary. While we have staff who do most of the basic care and cleaning and feeding and medicating, equally important in the lives of the animals is their enrichment. Enrichment is what makes the difference of living a joyful and happy life. For our cats, that includes everything from playing, climbing, hiding in boxes, and just a good dependable lap to sleep on. Sometimes it is someone willing to sit and read out loud to them, or someone to take a nap with, or someone to throw their favorite toy one more time. With 130 – 150 cats in residence, we depend on our volunteers to help meet this need. We are looking for people who are willing to share their hearts and compassion and playful side with many wonderful cats who are just waiting for you to walk into their lives.
We have seen again and again the healing that occurs in their lives from people who simply come and sit with them. Many of our most shy cats start to come out and sit closer and closer to a human sitting in their room reading out loud. You truly will be a part of their life that they look forward to and you will also benefit from their joy and gratitude in return.
We also have some creative activities for kids and adults that our cats really love. Cats love to sleep and play in cardboard boxes. We have volunteers that make some pretty amazing box designs that make great play areas for the cats. People can cut boxes into shapes with holes and tunnels etc. and even decorate their boxes with markers and such. We have supplies available here and can always use new boxes in the rooms.
Volunteers are welcome 7 days-a-week (excepting major holidays) from 10am-4pm.
Volunteers must be at least 13 years old and children ages 13-16 yrs. must be accompanied by an adult.
How to Start Volunteering
The first step is to fill out our Volunteer Application form. They can be downloaded using the link below or picked up in person at our facility. You can also call our office and request that an application be mailed to you.
Once we review your application, we will set up an appointment with you for an orientation tour of our facility. One of our staff will show you around and explain to you what you need to know to start volunteering. You will be asked to sign a liability waiver before you begin volunteering.
Thank you for considering volunteering your time and heart for our animals. You truly do make a difference in their lives and we are very grateful to you.
Nature Sanctuary Volunteers
If you are interested in volunteering for projects in our Nature Sanctuary, please contact the office at (315) 737-9339 M-F, 8am-3pm and we will put you in contact with our Nature Sanctuary Director. (Volunteers must be at least 18 years old.)
Feral Cat TNR Program
We are always in need of volunteers for our monthly (March-November) Feral cat spay/neuter clinics held here at the farm. We need people to do all sorts of tasks from trap cleaning to moving cats from one station to another, and specialized skills such as Veterinary Technician and Assistants as well as veterinarians too. If you are interested in volunteering for this program, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will direct you to the person in charge of that program.
Frequently Asked Questions about Volunteering
Q: I have a lot of dog experience, can I volunteer with your dogs?
A: Because of the special needs of our particular dog population, we do not have volunteers working with our dogs. Our staff are specially trained to handle their physical and behavioral issues that would not be conducive for volunteers to work with. Our dogs all rely on a very regimented routine, just because of the nature of the issues that they have.
Q: I have a lot of experience with horses, can I volunteer with your horses and farm animals?
A: Because of liability issues, and the special needs of the horses in our care, we do not have volunteers work in the barn at all. Volunteers can visit the barn and our horses and farm animals but due to the needs of the animals and the farm equipment we cannot have volunteers working in the barn.
Q: I'd love to help out by helping to clean the animal rooms or feed and medicate the animals. Can I do that?
A: Because of the special needs of the animals in our care, we have to have a highly structured and timed regiment for the animals. It also is important that the animals are evaluated consistently on a daily basis as this is their permanent home. We leave those tasks then for their daily caretakers so that we have consistency in their daily care. As mentioned up above, the most important role for volunteers is in giving TLC and playtime to the cats. Often, the staff doesn't have as much time to devote to just hanging out with the animals which is equally important for their quality of life as the cleaning and other chores.
Q: I have a child younger than 13 years old but they are wonderful with animals. Is it ok to bring them with me as long as I stay right with them?
A: We can only answer this question on a case by case basis. Please contact us by email at email@example.com or call our office M-F, 8am-3pm and we can discuss this with you. You also may want to check out our Purrfect Readers Program for children to come read to the animals!
Q: May I bring toys and treats for the animals when I volunteer?
A: You are welcome to bring toys for the cats when you come but please always show them to our staff when you arrive first. There are some cats that cannot play with toys with string, for example, as they will eat the string which is dangerous for them. We also never allow laser toys in our facility. As for treats, we ask you not to bring treats for the animals to feed while you are here. Most of our animals are on restricted diets for various health reasons. Again, if you'd like to donate food items, our staff will gladly give you a list of items that we regularly use. Or, you can also visit our Wish List page for more ideas.