Volunteer Integration

Volunteers are engaged in every area of operations and play a key role in implementation and creation of HASS.
This is a living document. Please share your feedback, ideas and stories.

What is Volunteer Integration when it comes to HASS?

Volunteers are a critically important part of launching and running HASS programs. What’s really exciting about this is that it provides an opportunity for volunteers to be fully integrated into driving forward the mission, vision and values of the organization. 

What problem does Volunteer Integration solve?

It’s simple: The HASS elements take work, love, compassion, dedication and a tireless commitment, all in the name of doing better by the pets and people in our communities. Without volunteers, most HASS initiatives either will not get off the ground or will never have their potential fully realized.

Volunteer Integration Success: Smitty

When Smitty had to be returned to Pima Animal Care Center due to an emergency in the adopter’s family, a dedicated team of volunteers jumped in to help. Smitty is a dog who doesn’t do well in the shelter and he needed more support. Thanks to the determination and involvement of PACC volunteers, Smitty was able to go to SolDog for evaluation and training. After this, Smitty was actually able to be reunited with his original adopter and was flown to Oregon, where his adopter had to move for their family, with an incredible volunteer.

See the original post>>

How Organizations Can Begin

1. Evaluate your current volunteer program. Collect the following information: 
  • How many full time volunteers are currently serving in your organization (full time = six hours per month or more)?
  • How many volunteer hours are logged each month? 
  • Will you use existing volunteers for HASS positions, recruit new volunteers, or do both? 
  • Do you have barriers (policies, rules, union rules, or procedures) that will prevent or impede volunteers from helping with the HASS elements? 
  • Are volunteers able to access your shelter software and other technology platforms? They will need access to these if possible. Some shelters offer additional training and expectations for volunteers to act in an administrative capacity. 
  • Where do you need volunteers the most right now? Make a list of the HASS elements you are currently implementing and/or growing and identify where you most need volunteers.

2. Consider how your volunteers can support each HASS element. Here are some things volunteers can help you with you may not have thought of:
  • Answer a pet support or pet resource hotline and help people before they come to the shelter.
  • Be a lost pet detective, helping to get lost pets back home with their families.
  • Provide rehoming counseling and information to help people rehome their pets without them coming to the shelter.
  • Offer behavioral support, enrichment and training for pets to prevent owner surrender intake.
  • Serve as case managers, speaking one-on-one to pet owners facing barriers to keeping their animals.
  • Work as auxiliary animal control or animal protection team members, working alongside officers to help lost pets, provide transport, and supply resources.
  • Help people who are food insecure, providing food and supplies throughout the community.
  • Serve as ambassadors between the shelter and partner organizations, helping pets and people, as well as contributing to the overall health of the community.
  • Responding to people who call in to file found pet reports, providing options, advising them on how to get the word out about the pet, and inviting them to serve as a finder-to-foster until the pet is found.
  • Provide post adoption/foster placement support for new families.

Read this blog for some common roles and responsibilities volunteers are fulfilling right now!

3. Hold a meeting with all volunteers to explain the HASS elements and the idea of community-centered sheltering.

You may also share the HASS website and take time to walk through each element and answer questions and discuss. Invite volunteers to share their ideas for how they can help! 

4. Create volunteer positions and descriptions for the roles you want to fill.

5. Recruit internally and/or externally to fill your new roles.

Provide basic training for these new roles, recognizing the entire organization is trying new things, so everyone has a lot to learn from one another. 

Consider inviting one or more committed volunteers to lead the new program. Many of the most successful new initiative and volunteer roles in shelters involve volunteers leading the way. Here are a few examples of how volunteer groups can create positive change in animal services agencies:

  • Friends of Pima Animal Care Center project, TOP Dogs is a volunteer-led training program designed to give dogs with behavioral needs the chance to learn basic commands and relieve kennel stress while also teaching volunteers valuable training skills and handling techniques.
  • Gateway Pet Guardians became the St. Louis region’s Rescue Bank Affiliate to assist local organizations receive the food and supplies they need.  This program is led and managed completely by volunteers.

6. Talk about the new volunteer programs you are implementing.

Make sure you’re communicating on social media and news releases about your new volunteer programs. This will have three potential benefits: raising funds to support the program; recruiting new volunteers, and elevating the role and public image of your organization. 

7. Track of how many new volunteer roles you’ve created, how many people are volunteering for HASS-related roles, and how these roles are impacting animals and people.

8. Set clear expectations for your volunteers.

When volunteers begin working more closely with people (as opposed to just animals), complications can arise. Have volunteers agree to treat every person with kindness and respect and assume that every person we meet has good intentions. Having a larger workplace culture agreement for volunteers and staff can be instrumental in building a HASS volunteer program. For volunteers who are helping people in the community that are facing homelessness, financial struggles, or other challenges, invite them to read this blog: Telling Pet Owners Stories – A Simple Guide to Photographing and Writing About the People You’re Helping.

More Resources to Implement Volunteer Integration

Find graphics, storytelling ideas, and ways you can support implementing Pet Support Services as marketing staff.

Grab the HASS Volunteer Integration Marketing Toolkit>>

Increase funding to support your mission of supporting more people and pets.

Get the HASS Philanthropy Toolkit>>

Request Support

Request crowdsourced support from your peers in community-centered sheltering:


The following documents are free for you to download and use as needed.

Key Benefits

Build community engagement
Decrease length of stay in shelter
Grow volunteer support
Improve customer satisfaction
Improve humane care in shelter
Improve morale within shelter
Increase adoption and/or rescue placement
Increase fundraising
Increase marketing and media engagement
Increase the number of animals returned home
Keep more people and animals together
Learn more about animals in your care
Promote diversity, equity and inclusion
Reduce intake
Reduce number of animals housed in shelter
Save money
Save staff time
Support human health and wellness