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Volunteer Program

Welcome and thank you for taking an interest in our Volunteer Program! The RASKC Volunteer Program is an integral part of our operations. We help to provide compassionate care to our pets as well as 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, there are countless ways to help make a difference!

Volunteer questions? Email us at RASKC.Volunteers@kingcounty.gov or call 206-263-5970.

General information for volunteering

There are three easy steps to get started as a RASKC Volunteer!

  1. Watch our New Volunteer Orientation videos online
    These online presentations provide an overview of RASKC's services, as well as an in-depth understanding of the program's various opportunities and expectations. Please note that some of these modules include a mini-quiz. The intent behind these quizzes is simply to provide further engagement, but your grade will not affect the status of your application. We hope you enjoy and have fun learning!
  2. Complete the online volunteer application
    If you are planning to foster and are not intent on volunteering on scheduled shifts, then please provide a volunteer application for only one person in your household. While all household members are welcome and encouraged to participate in the fostering process, RASKC does not need online applications for everyone. If you are part of a parent/youth team who is interested in a scheduled shift at the shelter or a partner store, then please complete a separate application for each member of the family who is interested in volunteering. Children under 16 years old must be accompanied by a parent, legal guardian, or another adult whom the parent identifies in writing. That adult becomes a volunteer too and is in charge of supervising the youth and providing quality assurance.
  3. Complete the Volunteer Agreement Form (DocuSign)
    The volunteer agreement form needs to be signed by adults only. If the applicant is a foster family, then only one agreement form is needed. If the applicants are part of a parent/youth team that hope to participate in scheduled shifts at the shelter or a partner store, then we need a separate form for each member of the family. A parent or legal guardian must sign the form (Section 5) on behalf of their child.

Next Steps: After you have completed the three steps listed above, RASKC will contact you to see if there might be a match between RASKC's open positions and your skills, interest, and availability. If there is a match, then training usually involves reading materials and scheduling apprenticeship shifts with mentor volunteers. If you'd like to foster, RASKC will add you to the distribution list. You will then be notified of animals that are available to be fostered. In the meantime, we encourage you to download and read our RASKC Volunteer Manual. Thank you for your interest and support to help people and pets!

Below is a list of our volunteer opportunities. Training is provided for all volunteer roles. 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.

Position Location Description
Cat Meet and Greet Team Kent (RASKC)

Cat meet and 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 and 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 Meet and 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 adopt one or more animals but also to "spread the word" to others about their positive impression of RASKC. When Meet and 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) Dog Team volunteers help dogs get adopted sooner by teaching them good behaviors, improve their quality of life by taking them outside and on walks, and 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 us is to open your heart and home on a temporary basis to an 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:
  • Kitten immune systems are fragile, and they are too small to be spayed/neutered until they reach two pounds.
  • Some cats have the sniffles, a slight upper respiratory infection of cats. They need a spot of sunshine in your home to help them heal faster, so they can be ready for adoption.
  • Some dogs or cats are recovering from an injury.
  • RASKC's "Golden Oldies" program helps cats that need loving care as they enjoy the last months of their lives.
Your home might be the perfect place for these animals to receive the one-on-one comfort and attention they need. Fostering is a great way to involve the whole family or household in volunteering. RASKC provides free food, litter, and veterinary care while the animals are being fostered. Note: Please be aware that all foster animals must be kept inside.
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 Partner store locations

The primary aspects of RASKC's mission 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 adopt 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.

The following policies and expectations were developed to provide organization throughout our busy shelter, and to ensure 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.

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 one- or two-day shift absence requests: Please mark the days you will be unable to volunteers on the online calendar via Volgistics.
  • For more than three days of shift absence requests: If you need to be absent for three consecutive shifts or more, do not mark the online calendar but please let your team coordinator know as soon as possible. Unfortunately, due to schedule constraints, leaves 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 are a program that is still growing and thus embrace constructive criticism.

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 parent/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 parents/guardians do not need to attend training or shifts, they will be required to fill out the General Release Form.

For 18+ years 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.

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.

Check In/Out

All hours worked must be recorded directly and promptly on a "sign in" computer 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.

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 nondisclosable 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.

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.

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 soled 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.

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.

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. 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 p.m. and 5:45 p.m. Unless it's an emergency, please do not bring foster animals to RASKC before 2 p.m.

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 funds associated with the adoption process.

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 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.

Incident and Bite Reports

If a RASKC animal bites you or if it scratches you so that the skin breaks, then you must immediately clean the wound with warm, soapy water, then thoroughly rinse the wound; put on a bandage; immediately notify a RASKC employee and your team leadership; and consult your healthcare provider 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 provider right away. RASKC does not pay or reimburse for the costs of volunteers' injuries.

Nondiscrimination and Anti-Harassment

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.

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.

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.

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.

Service Requirement

Volunteers at RASKC 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 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 a partner location, 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.

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.

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 agency's policy that the use, threatened use, or possession of a weapon by an 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.

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.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

While RASKC is not in a position to put new volunteers to work at the shelter on short notice, there is another option. If you would like to make cat blankets at home and deliver them to the Pet Adoption Center in Kent between noon and 5 p.m. on any weekend, we would gladly accept your help. Let us know if you need instructions on making cat blankets.

RASKC offers several group volunteering opportunities - making cat cozy blankets, organizing a small fundraiser, putting up posters in the community, or making YouTube videos. 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 to 60 minutes or so. RASKC can usually arrange for a bit of cat cuddling during the tour and viewing only with the dogs.

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 how quickly you submit the required paperwork, if you’re qualified and available to make a commitment to an open position, and if it’s easy to schedule you for a skills training.

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 noon to 2 p.m. every Monday for at least six shifts plus training. Dog Walking and working in the vet clinic requires a longer initial commitment.

All RASKC volunteers must be at least nine years old. All volunteers who are between nine and 15 years old must volunteer with their parent (or with an adult whom the parent designates in writing).

If you're interested in adopting a dog from RASKC, you may visit with dogs at the Pet Adoption Center any afternoon except on major holidays. Only adults may volunteer to work with our adoptable dogs.

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.

Yes.

The best option for you would to be make cat blankets. Please complete this form for more information.

RASKC loves to welcome new foster volunteers. Please complete a volunteer application and watch our Fostering 101 training video. An adult in the household will need to complete a liability waiver. When all forms are received, you will receive more training materials and emails describing the RASKC animals available to be fostered.

Maybe. It depends in part on the circumstances that led to your need for community service. Usually RASKC offers these opportunities only for people with traffic offenses or something comparable. There is a limited selection of volunteer roles 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 may allow for it.

Volunteer Hub Resource Center

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