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Volunteers: Where would we be without them?

This is National Volunteer Week, and we often hear it said that volunteers are the lifeblood of any effective animal organization. That seems to be a self-evident truth. Without volunteers, our work and our reach would be limited, events would be prohibitively expensive and impossible to stage, foster homes would dry up and blow away. Imagine a world without volunteers. I’d rather not, thank you very much!

For me and I believe for everyone at Best Friends, volunteers are much more than a means to a noble end – they are an inspiration. Volunteers embody the passion and selfless commitment that are at the heart of our movement, and Best Friends is especially blessed to have the participation of the best volunteers anywhere. They are highly motivated, super talented and super passionate.

Here at the Sanctuary, volunteers come from all over the country on a daily basis and, not infrequently, from around the world, like a young woman from Malaysia who visits several times a year to help out at Cat World. In their daily lives, they are teachers, mechanics, doctors, stockbrokers, large and small business people, stay-at-home parents and students … you name it, they are represented in our volunteers. They are an amazingly diverse collection of individuals, families, school and church groups. We recently had a volunteer who celebrated his 100th birthday by volunteering at Dogtown. Talk about inspiring!

Many volunteers have demanding lives, jobs and schedules. They could easily be spending their downtime relaxing at some beach or catching up on their own backlogged chores and DIY projects, but here they are walking dogs, clearing trails, cleaning litter trays, grooming bunnies, cleaning Piggy Paradise, or hauling hay at Horse Haven.

And it’s not just here at the Sanctuary. At the Best Friends Pet Adoption and Spay/Neuter Center in Los Angeles, volunteers are part of the daily fabric of the operation, providing extra attention, training and enrichment to the dogs and cats who have come from L.A. city shelters and are being readied for new lives. Volunteers are also the backbone of our Los Angeles mobile adoptions.

Later this week, at Best Friends pet super adoptions for the greater New York area and in St George, Utah, hundreds of homeless pets will find loving forever homes. These events could never happen without squadrons of volunteers. Not only that, but the dozens of rescues and shelters, whose pets will find themselves in new homes come next week, are likewise powered by volunteers. The following week, another volunteer-powered Best Friends pet super adoption will take place in Los Angeles, and two weeks after that in Salt Lake City. Volunteers, volunteers, volunteers!

Volunteering in your local community for a rescue or shelter is a great way to help homeless pets. Local groups need volunteers for all kinds of work, from fostering to fundraising, to updating websites, to helping with adoptions. It’s easy to make an important difference. If you’d like to volunteer for Best Friends, even if you are unable to visit the Sanctuary or one of our regional program cities, visit to find out about opportunities closer to home.

This may be National Volunteer Week, but for Best Friends, every week is volunteer week. I offer my personal thanks to each and every volunteer for all that you do for the animals and for Best Friends.
Gregory Castle, CEO emeritus, Best Friends Animal Society Gregory Castle
CEO emeritus
Best Friends Animal Society