RASKC Volunteer program
Making this world a better place for animals, one step at a time...
Welcome and thank you for taking an interest in RASKC's Volunteer Program! The volunteer program is an integral part of our operations which helps to provide compassionate care to our pets as well excellent customer service to the residents of King County. Whether you are interested in volunteering your time at one of our facilities, including partner store locations throughout the County, or wish to foster or simply help out from the ease and comfort of your own home, know there are countless ways to help make a difference! To find out more about the various opportunities available, click on "Volunteer Job Descriptions" or visit our Hub Resource Center below where you can watch/become familiarized with some of the fun tasks at hand!
3 Easy Steps to Becoming a Volunteer
- Register for New Volunteer Orientation (NVO)
Interested in becoming a RASKC volunteer? Sign up and attend the New Volunteer Orientation (NVO)! This 2 hour orientation will provide an overview of RASKC's services, as well as an in-depth understanding of the volunteer program's various opportunities (from general shelter duties to fostering and ways to help from home), not to mention a behind the scenes tour of the Kent facility! This will be a great opportunity to meet with key staff and lead volunteers to ask any questions in person.
- Complete the online volunteer application and download/sign Volunteer Agreement Form
This step can be completed either before or after the New Volunteer Orientation (NVO). If you are not sure in what capacity you wish to volunteer, we certainly encourage you to register and attend the NVO first. If you already feel you have enough information and know in what capacity you want to volunteer your time in, you are encouraged to fill out the application and waiver form (read the "Policies & Expectations" on the next tab). In some cases, you may be in fact contacted prior to attending the NVO if your interests and availability match a current open slot.
- Begin volunteering!
Once you have attended the New Volunteer Orientation, the team lead will be notified of your interest in a position and will try to on board you to a shift as soon as possible. Often times, the first few shifts will be accompanied by a senior volunteer to walk you through the process. In the meantime, we'll ask that you please set up your volunteer account (an email with a link to the site will be sent to you after attending NVO).
Volunteer Job DescriptionsTraining is provided for all volunteer roles. Below is a list of our volunteer opportunities. With some exceptions, volunteers can serve in more than one role. Most team members work regularly scheduled weekly shifts for at least six months or alternating week shifts for at least 12 months. During the summer for some assignments, there are often opportunities with a shorter commitment of eight months, plus training.
|Cat Meet & Greet Team||Kent (RASKC)||Cat meet & greet volunteers play an invaluable role in helping customers be well matched with kitties to adopt and to assist in other aspects of the adoption process. This is enormously helpful to the cat, the adoptive family, and RASKC. Meet & Greet volunteers also play in important role in cat care, by helping to monitor and flag if any cats are displaying symptoms that indicate needed medical care (e.g., sneezing). By cleaning vacated cat kennels in strict adherence to protocols and by ensuring that members of the public do not touch kitties or kennels (except when authorized to do so), the volunteers provide significant assistance in preventing disease transmission. When cat meet & greet volunteers help customers leave with a positive impression of RASKC, this reinforces our brand identity as a terrific place to adopt a new family member. Hopefully those customers will not only one or more animals but also to “spread the word” to others about their positive impression of RASKC. When cat meet-&-greet volunteers provide strategic advice and tools to families searching for their lost cat, they are also providing a sense of hope and inspiration to the families that their cat will be found. This is a key variable in families finding their lost kitty—promoting joyous reunions and also helping prevent a lost cat from becoming stray.|
|Dog Team||Kent (RASKC)||To help dogs get adopted sooner by teaching them good behaviors. To improve the dogs’ quality of life by taking them outside. To help monitor their health.|
|Early Morning Cat Crew Team||Kent (RASKC)||The quality of life of the adoptable cats at RASKC depends in large part in residing a clean and tidy cage. The Early Morning Cat Crew volunteers provide this essential service in important ways that help prevent disease transmission. Since the primary mission of RASKC is to encourage adoptions of our animals to good homes, it’s especially important that the Cat Adoption Building be clean and tidy to present a favorable impression to potential adopters.|
|Foster Team||At home||One of the most valuable ways to volunteer with Regional Animal Services of King County (RASKC) is to open your heart and home on a temporary basis to a RASKC animal that is waiting to be adopted. These animals need to be in a home environment, rather than the shelter, for a variety of reasons including:
|Instructor||Team's site||The Instructor leads classroom or small-group trainings, in addition to one-on-one trainings for some teams. When an Instructor leads one-on-one trainings, she is not responsible for getting a certain amount of animal or customer-related work done during the shift. Instead she is able to focus on the training needs of the new volunteer. This is a key aspect of the effective onboarding process.|
|Lead or Co-Lead Volunteer||At home / team’s site||The Co-Lead and Lead Volunteers provide invaluable leadership. When they provide key information to their team and RASKC staff, they play a vital role in facilitating effective communication. Serving as a Co-Lead is usually a stepping stone toward becoming a Lead Volunteer.|
|Mentor||Team's site||The Mentor leads one-on-one “job shadow” or apprenticeship shifts for new volunteers during the Mentor’s regular shift. This work is very important to give trainees a solid reality check as to how the work is actually done during a live shift. Mentors observe trainees and provide key feedback to the trainees and RASKC, so that we can determine if trainees are likely a good fit for the role.|
|Partner Store Team||View partner store locations
||The primary aspects of RASKC’s mission of RASKC are to provide the best care possible to the animals and to promote their adoption. Volunteers play an important role in cat care, by providing socialization and cuddling, helping to monitor and flag if any cats are displaying symptoms that indicate needed medical care (e.g., sneezing). By cleaning vacated cat kennels in strict adherence to protocols and by ensuring that members of the public do not touch kitties or kennels (except when authorized to do so), the volunteers provide significant assistance in preventing disease transmission. Volunteers play an invaluable role in helping customers be well matched with kitties to adopt and to promote responsible pet ownership. This is enormously helpful to the cat, the adoptive family, and RASKC. When the volunteers help customers leave with a positive impression of RASKC, this reinforces our brand identity as a terrific place to adopt a new family member. Hopefully those customers will not only one or more animals but also to “spread the word” to others about their positive impression of RASKC.|
|Onboarding Specialist||At home||Onboarding Specialists ensure that all pre-conditions are met in order for prospective volunteers to move into the training process. They provide essential services to help ensure that new volunteers initially launch successfully into the volunteer program.|
|Scheduler||At home, / team’s site||Schedulers help ensure that enough– and not too many- volunteers are coming in to take care of the animals or to perform other time-sensitive work. This infrastructure work to ensure appropriate volunteer staffing levels is a challenging and greatly appreciated service.|
|Shelter Helper Team||Kent (RASKC)||Collecting dirty bowls, pans, and the laundry reduces staff stress quite a bit. Preparing cat food trays is an essential part of the process for cats to receive nourishment. Doing the laundry helps to ensure that clean items are available when needed and ensures that dirty items are not left out. Cleaning the feral cat boxes helps the quality of life for those cats. Stacking them nicely in the breezeway enhances a nice working environment. Stuffing dog kongs helps toward brightening dogs’ days in the kennels Picking up dog poop helps provide a tidy and healthy environment for dogs, staff, volunteers, and customers on RASKC grounds. Photocopying materials and filing paperwork helps toward the smooth running of the volunteer and adoption programs. The work of sweeping, and tidying the Cat Building helps to convey a positive perception to potential adopters and provides a better environment for the kitties, volunteers and staff.|
|Team Coordinator||At home / team’s site||When a volunteer team has a Coordinator, this person is providing extra service beyond what a Lead Volunteer typically contributes. For example, a team’s Coordinator might take on some combination of the onboarding, scheduling, and communication-liaison functions.|
|Vet Clinic||Kent (RASKC)||Vet clinic volunteers provide a great service to RASKC clinicians by providing logistical support. When the volunteers wrap surgical instruments and engage in cleanup work, this allows the Vet Clinic staff to focus on tasks demanding their expertise.|
Policies and Expectations
The following procedures were developed to provide organization through out our busy shelter, and to insure the safety of all RASKC volunteers, patrons and animals. We ask all volunteers to practice the following and to inform RASKC patrons of any that may apply to them.Records Management
The Volunteer Management Office maintains records on each volunteer throughout the organization. Records include dates of volunteer service, positions held, duties performed, evaluation of volunteer performance, training attended and awards/recognitions received. Volunteer records, including application, reference checks and background checks, are confidential. Volunteers are responsible for submitting and updating information contained in their files to the Volunteer Management Office.Dress Code
It’s important that the staff, other volunteers, and public know you are a volunteer, so you are required to wear a volunteer t-shirt (or vest) and an official volunteer identification badge on all shifts.
Closed toe, rubber sole shoes are required when volunteering (no flip flops, no sandals, no high heels). A volunteer without the proper footwear will be asked to leave that shift right away. Capri pants or longer pants are recommended when working with the animals.Attendance
If a volunteer does not show up for three shifts in a row without advance notice, the volunteer will be considered to have abandoned their position and will likely be dismissed.
If a volunteer is a “no show/ no notification” two times within a six-month period, the volunteer may face discipline including possible dismissal depending on a range of factors.Service Requirement
Volunteers at RASKC Kent and Kirkland locations are asked to make a commitment to volunteer for a minimum of 50 hours within a consecutive six-month period of time after receiving training—roughly about two hours a week, unless you have made alternate arrangements with the Volunteer Program Manager (e.g., summer program). Most volunteer roles can be combined to achieve the initial 50-hour commitment, except the Dog Team. If you successfully train for the Dog Team, you must volunteer 50 hours in that program regardless of the number of hours that you serve in other volunteer roles.
For most volunteer roles, you will be asked to commit to a particular weekly shift.
If you volunteer at Reber Ranch, Covington Petco, or Tukwila Petco, the minimum commitment is a weekly shift for six months or an alternating week shift for 12 months- except for the Super Summer Volunteering Special, which is typically a minimum of six shifts plus training.Age Requirement
For safety reasons, we only allow volunteers over the age of 18 to walk dogs.
For ages 9-15 years old: Volunteers in this age frame are encouraged to join as part of the paren/guardian team. Both parties must fill out the online application, attend any necessary training sessions and work volunteer shifts together.
For ages 16-17 years old: While parent/guardians do not need to attend training or shifts, they will be required to fill out the General Release Form.
For +18 year old: Volunteers over the age of consent will be required to fill out the online application, including submit a general release form for themselves prior to volunteering.Foster Program
RASKC asks fosters to make best efforts to care for several animals each year. You are encouraged, though not required, to take time off between fostering animals.
If you and your household members need to be out of town while fostering an animal, please ask the Foster Care Coordinator to find interim care for your foster animal(s). Do not entrust the foster animal to someone outside of the RASKC foster community to care for your foster animal. If you make arrangements with another foster volunteer, immediately notify the Foster Care Coordinator.
When you need to bring a foster animal to RASKC, please do so between 2:00- 5:45pm.Unless it’s an emergency, please do not bring foster animals to RASKC before 2:00pm.
If you make arrangements to directly adopt out a RASKC foster animal, it is very important that all financial transactions are conducted only by RASKC employees. Volunteers are strictly forbidden to handle any monies associated with the adoption process.Absence Requests
While RASKC does not have a strict policy of making up a shift for every absence, it is greatly appreciated when you can “pay it forward” by covering shifts of teammates who need to be absent.
- For 1-2 day shift absence requests: Please mark the days you will be unable to volunteers on the online calendar via Volgistics.
- For more than 3 days of shift absence requests: If you need to be absent for three consecutive shifts or more, then do not mark the online calendar but please let your team coordinator know as soon as possible. Unfortunately, due to schedule constraints, leave of absence do not guarantee the same shift upon return.
- For last minute shift absences: We understand that life happens! Therefore, for last minute absence notices, such as sick days or simply a last minute change in your schedule, we ask that beside you updating the online calendar in Volgistics, that you also email and call/text the team coordinator to ensure communication has been reached.
- If you are leaving for an undetermined amount of time or resigning note that we will reach out to you to conduct an “exit interview”. We’re a program that is still growing and thus embrace constructive criticism.
All hours worked must be recorded directly and promptly on a “sign in” computer at RASKC/ Kent or Kirkland the same day you volunteer or via your online volunteer record for RASKC volunteer performed elsewhere. It is imperative that volunteers accurately and promptly post all hours that they contribute, except fostering. This includes hours for RASKC animal transport, cat-blanket making, and all other forms of donating time to RASKC except fostering.
Funders need to know if RASKC is maximizing value of volunteers. The key metric is volunteer hours contributed. This is one of the reasons why posting hours accurately and promptly is critically important.Companion Animals and Guests
While we appreciate volunteers who are proud to volunteer at RASKC and thus wish to show it off to friends, family or even pets, we do request that during shifts volunteers focus strictly on the pets, customers and staff at RASKC. Additionally, we request that volunteers do not leave their companion animals in their cars during a shift, orientation or training.Off-limits Areas
Volunteers are not to enter areas where they are not authorized to be including, but not limited to: all space that is designated as “staff only,” areas where stray-hold animals are located, the isolation wards, behind the front counter, the load/unload bay, inside the Vet Clinic surgical area, and personal offices unless invited in by staff.
Volunteers are not allowed to park behind the RASKC buildings. If a volunteer is found entering an off-limits area, the volunteer will be reminded of the importance in complying with this policy. Repeated failure to comply may result in discipline and perhaps dismissal.Nondiscrimination and anti-harassment policy
It is the policy of King County to provide a workplace that is free from discrimination and harassment. King County promotes equal opportunity and equitable treatment. Any type of harassment, disrespectful communication, or discrimination based on a person’s race, color, age, sex, marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, ancestry, national origin, disability and/or veteran status will not be tolerated.
It is very important to engage in respectful communication.
Please report to the Volunteer Program Manager all incidents of discrimination, harassment, retaliation, and/or disrespectful communication. Violations of this section may result in discipline including dismissal.Handling RASKC animals
For the safety of the staff, volunteers and animals, volunteers are not allowed to handle or walk any animal that has not been health and temperament tested unless explicitly authorized by a RASKC employee. Volunteers are authorized to handle only the animals that they have received specific RASKC training for.
Volunteers are not to remove an animal from the shelter, an adoption event, or a partner store unless they have specific authorization from a RASKC employee. Exceptions to this policy are: temperament-tested dogs going for a walk near RASKC by a successfully trained volunteer for this purpose and foster animals going into foster. Removal of an animal from the shelter, an adoption event, or partner store by a volunteer, without specific permission from a RASKC employee may be cause for volunteer discipline including dismissal.Appropriate use of information assets
Appropriate use of computers and printers can be used when authorized by a RASKC employee. Volunteers are not to download any programs, files or photographs onto RASKC computers unless specifically authorized by a RASKC employee.Drug-Free Workplace
King County is committed to maintaining a drug-free workplace to promote both the quality of its services and the safety of the animals, its employees, volunteers, customers and the public. The County has a chemical dependence and impairment policy that strictly prohibits the use of, or reporting to work under the influence of, drugs, including alcohol. Any suspected incidence of use shall be reported. Volunteers must also appear to be “clean and sober” while volunteering. Violations of this policy will not be tolerated and may result in disciplinary action up to and including dismissal.Workplace Violence Prevention
Violence, threats, harassment, intimidation, and other disruptive behavior in our workplace perpetrated by strangers, customers, co-workers, family, friends, or others doing business for or with King County will not be tolerated. Any incident of threat or acts of physical violence witnessed shall be reported. If you have a restraining order against anyone, provide all relevant information to the Volunteer Program Manager.Weapon Free Workplace
RASKC employees and many volunteers interact with the public. Each volunteer is expected to avoid any potentially volatile situation or confrontation. Volunteers are to contact the appropriate employee for assistance when necessary. It is the Division’s policy that the use, threatened use, or possession of a weapon by a Division employee or volunteer while in the performance of his/her official duties or while on County property is strictly prohibited, except this provision shall not apply to persons carrying pepper spray in a personal handbag for personal protection while commuting to and from work. Violations will not be tolerated and may result in disciplinary action up to and including dismissal.Confidentiality
Volunteers may be entrusted with sensitive and confidential information while volunteering that is to be regarded as confidential. For example, information relating to RASKC employees, volunteers, customers, donors, field personnel, investigations and internal records with information nondiscloseable by Washington state public disclosure law, is to be kept confidential. Volunteers are not allowed to disclose or make any private use of such confidential information without consent. For example, do not contact team members about anything other than RASKC business unless they agree that that type of communication is okay. Doing so may result in discipline including dismissal.Volunteer Discipline / Dismissal
RASKC reserves the right to terminate a volunteer’s service if, at RASKC’s discretion, it is in the best interest of the organization and/or any volunteer. Possible grounds for termination include, but are not limited to: gross misconduct or insubordination; being under the influence of drugs or alcohol; theft of property; misuse of RASKC’s equipment or materials; abuse or mistreatment of animals, staff or other volunteers; failure to adhere to the organization’s policies and procedures; repeated entry into areas identified as “staff only;” failure to take direction from staff; failure to satisfactorily perform assigned duties; and behavior which is deemed detrimental to Regional Animal Services of King County.Reporting Procedures
If you are having a problem in the program in which you are working, please speak to the Animal Services Coordinator, Shelter Sergeant or the Volunteer Program Manager. Problems can usually be resolved and any suggestions for improvement you may have are welcomed.
If a RASKC animal seems to be injured or sick, please immediately notify an employee.Incident and Bite Reports
If a RASKC animal bites you or if it scratches you so that the skin breaks, then you must immediately: a) clean the wound with soapy warm water right away, then thoroughly rinse the wound, (b) put on a bandaid, (c) immediately notify a RASKC employee and your team leadership, and (d) consult your health-care professional right away to see if medical attention is needed. If you are bitten or your skin is broken as a result of scratch by a RASKC cat, it is especially important to consult your healthcare professional right away. RASKC does not pay or reimburse for the costs of volunteers’ injuries.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)Can I come down this weekend to volunteer?
While RASKC is not in a position to put new volunteers to work at the shelter on a short-notice basis, there is another option. If you would like to make cat blankets at home and deliver them to RASKC/ Kent between 12-5pm on any weekend, we would gladly accept your help. Here’s a link [insert link] on how to make cat blankets.My youth group or employee group would like to donate a few hours. What can we do?
RASKC offers several group volunteering opportunities- making cat cozy blankets, writing “thank you” notes, organizing a small fundraiser, putting up posters in the community, making YouTube videos, and decorating cardboard boxes for cats. You would usually provide the materials. These items typically made by your group at a location other than RASKC at the venue of your choosing (e.g., at your school or reserve a library room or someone’s home). You would schedule a time with RASKC if you would like tour the Kent facility when you deliver the items you have made. The tour can last from 30- 60 minutes or so. Click here if you’d like to schedule a tour [Insert link]. RASKC can usually arrange for a bit of cat cuddling during the tour and viewing only with the dogs.How long does it take between attending new volunteer orientation to when you begin to volunteer?
It depends. Some volunteers are able to begin their training within a week of new volunteer orientation. For others it might take longer. It depends largely on: a) how quickly you submit the required paperwork, b) if you’re qualified and available to make a commitment to an open position, and c) if it’s easy to schedule you for a skills training.Do I have to work a regularly scheduled shift in order to volunteer?
It depends on the volunteer role. Foster volunteers and “at home” volunteers have great flexibility as to when they choose to donate hours. Most of the other volunteer roles require a commitment to a regular weekly shift for two hours- for example, from 12-2pm every Monday for at least six months. The six-month commitment is less during the summer, when the initial commitment is only for six shifts plus training.How old do you have to be to volunteer?
All RASKC volunteers must be at least nine years old. All volunteers who are between 9- 15 years old must volunteer with their parent (or with an adult whom the parent designates in writing).Can my child volunteer to play with your dogs?
You and your family may, as guests, visit with RASKC dogs at our Kirkland venue on any day between 1:00- 5:30pm. Here’s the address [Insert link].
If you’re interested in adopting a dog from RASKC/ Kent, you may visit with dogs during any afternoon, execpt on major holidays. Only adults, however, may volunteer with our dogs in Kent.I want to be a veterinarian. May I volunteer in your Vet Clinic?
Maybe. Volunteer openings in the Vet Clinic rarely occur. When openings arise, it’s a highly competitive process to be selected. Please note that normally only adults may volunteer on an ongoing basis in the Vet Clinic.
A terrific way to gain experience with animals from the shelter is to foster. Foster volunteers also enjoy many opportunities to engage with RASKC’s Vet Clinic staff. For information about how to foster, go here. [Insert link].May I receive credit for school community-service for volunteering?
Yes.I just need to volunteer for three hours. Do you have an opportunty for me?
The best option for you would to be make cat blankets at your home [insert link on how to make blankets]. Then deliver them to RASKC/ Kent anytime we are open to the public [Insert link to our hours]. If you would like a community-service form to be signed for your hours, schedule a time to do so by contacting RASKC.Volunteers@kingcounty.govI’d like to foster animals. What are my next steps?
RASKC loves to welcome new foster volunteers. Go here [insert link] to learn about the process to become a foster volunteer. If you are an adult who would like to hospice foster an animal who is close to the end of their life, contact Lori.Mason@kingcounty.gov. She is often able to provide training and a hospice cat within a few days.I have to do community service for a court. May I do so with RASKC?
Maybe. It depends in part on the circumstances that led to your need for community sevice. Usually RASKC offers these opportuities only for people with traffic offenses or something comparable. There is a limited selection of volunteer roles for court-ordered community service. The minimum commitment is 50 hours.Can I make cat blankets for court-ordered community service?
It depends on the court. King County Superior Court does not allow “at home” volunteering for community service. Some other courts seem to allow for it.
Overview of Fostering
How to bottle feed kittens
Meet Kyle! Kyle is a “Renaissance man,” who speaks three languages and is active in many non-profit organizations. Kyle serves as one of RASKC’s most impressive foster volunteers who cares for a number of our pit-bull terriers, pit mixes, and other dogs. Since he started in 2013, Kyle has donated more than 1,100 foster hours to RASKC.
When Foster Coordinator Lori Mason nominated Kyle for this honor, she wrote, “Kyle has fostered many dogs with behavioral issues- mostly Pits. He has turned them around to be suited for society! And I am pretty sure none of his dogs have been returned for behavior issues. Lori also said, “Kyle recently took one of our dogs through two sets of obedience trainings out of his own pocket. The dog chewed siding off of his houses, and she destroyed seven leashes. And Kyle still comes back for more of our dogs. He is amazing with them.” Kyle recently took foster Diesel (pictured) to work. Kyle and his co-workers discovered that the Diesel is a mellow office dog. Thank you, Kyle!
Q: How did you hear about RASKC?
A: I heard about RASKC through the Humane Society and PAWS.
Q: What made you want to volunteer, especially to work with animals?
A: I love pit bulls. When I learned that RASKC receives a lot of them, I wanted to help. In the past six years, I've fostered over 20 dogs from various animal organizations. I enjoy their companionships and getting to know them individually and their unique personalities. What I love most is providing them the basic training and command skills to prepare them for their permanent families.
Q: What have you gained and hope to gain from your experience as a volunteer with RASKC?
A: What I've learned and gained from volunteer with RASKC surpass all my expectations. Each animal taught me something different, even the ones that I took to obedient trainings. They taught me to be more patient, know how and when to be firm with my decisions, how to be compassionate, and that loyalty is free from each and every one of them.
Q: What is your life motto?
A: I read this a few weeks ago and decided to make it my 2018 motto: "Owning less is way better than organizing more."
Q: What is the best advice you would give people who want pets?
A: Do your research. Here are a few sites to get started: RASKC, Humane Society, PAWS, Best Friends, ASPCA, and PETA.
Q: Describe a memorable moment you’ve had with an animal.
A: Walking behind a guide dog helping a veteran on a wheelchair navigating through downtown Seattle in the middle of the day with all the noise and traffic without a slight distraction. I observed them for three blocks before they got on a bus. That day I went home and goggled the words duty and loyalty.
Q: What else would you like to say about foster volunteering for RASKC?
A: I've met only the nicest and caring people at RASKC and I'm glad to be apart it.