Volunteer Appreciation Week: Giving thanks to our dedicated volunteers

Best Friends sends out volunteer thank yous to express our gratitude to all of our wonderful volunteers who support animals and our no-kill mission.
By Kelli Harmon

Feeding a tiny kitten, walking a grateful dog — these are tough jobs, but someone has to do them. And right alongside Best Friends staff at the Sanctuary, in all our program cities, and at events around the country, volunteers do these jobs and many more.

In 2015 alone, Best Friends volunteers logged a whopping 370,000-plus hours. That’s equivalent to 178 full time employees. And we and the animals are thankful for every hour.

To say we couldn’t do this work without volunteers is an understatement. And since it’s national volunteer appreciation week from April 10-16, 2016, what better time to give thanks to the people giving their time, labor and love toward Saving Them All?

Volunteer feeding a neonatal kitten

Here’s what Best Friends volunteers did for the animals in the past year:

Animal volunteering at the Sanctuary

With about 1,600 animals calling the Best Friends Animal Sanctuary home on any given day, it takes a lot of work to keep every dog, cat, horse, pig, bird, bunny, goat or other creature happy, healthy and comfortable. Volunteers help make that possible. They do everything from walking and feeding, to socializing and cuddling animals. Here are a couple of milestones from 2015:

  • Nearly 9,000 people volunteered at the Sanctuary, and in doing so contributed about 107,000 hours.
  • As part of the Sanctuary Learning Experience, 148 school and other groups visited the Sanctuary during the year, bringing in about 1,800 people who contributed around 13,400 hours of volunteer service in animal areas and on service projects.

Volunteer bringing food to the horses

Animal care volunteers in Best Friends outreach programs

While we host more visitors and volunteers at the Sanctuary in Utah than anywhere else in the course of a year, Best Friends also has busy programs in Los Angeles, California, Salt Lake City, Utah, and New York. Local program volunteers in those cities help keep thousands of dogs and cats happy and healthy until they find homes, and then (you guessed it) they help with that, too.

  • Los Angeles: By helping out at two Best Friends pet adoption centers, a kitten nursery and mobile adoptions, about 3,900 L.A. volunteers contributed about 144,000 hours of service.
  • Utah: In the Salt Lake City area, about 2,300  volunteers contributed 54,640 hours of service at the Best Friends–Utah pet adoption center, kitten nursery and with our community cat programs.
  • New York: About 2,600 volunteers worked approximately 13,400 hours helping urban dogs and cats find homes from city shelters through pop-up adoption events, fostering, and caring for cats at our partner locations.

Volunteer walking a small dog at the Best Friends–Utah pet adoption center

Volunteer work for animals at events

  • Strut Your Mutt took place in 12 cities last year and provided fundraising opportunities to shelters and rescue groups from coast to coast. It couldn’t have been done without the 1,137 volunteers who contributed about 9,300 hours of service.
  • Super adoptions: Six Best Friends Super Adoption events helped thousands of pets find new homes last year in L.A., Utah and New York. These two-day events were supported by about 2,000 volunteers who contributed about 12,000 hours of service.
  • Best Friends National Conference: Over the course of our three-day animal welfare conference, 130 volunteers contributed about 1,800 hours of service, making sure attendees had the best possible experience and leaving them excited to go home and put new information and tools to work in their communities.

Volunteer distributing treats to the dogs during Strut Your Mutt

Our mission at Best Friends is to stop the killing of dogs and cats in America’s shelters and to bring about a time when there are No More Homeless Pets. Since the very beginning, we’ve known that the only way this will happen is by working together. Volunteers embody that principle with every minute they give to sit with a shy dog, feed and weigh a tiny kitten, direct traffic at an event, talk to potential adopters, and so many other moments that it’s impossible to capture them all.

This week (and every week) we give special thanks — because together, we will Save Them All.

Join the club, volunteer with us

Volunteer holding a brown tabby cat on her lap

Photos by Best Friends staff