5 Reasons You Should Volunteer to Work With Animals
When so much of our working life bleeds into our personal life, it can be difficult to set aside time for ourselves and helping others. But if you’re passionate about something, making the time to give back and get involved can be really important to your personal happiness. Not only is it a mental break from the stresses of every-day life, but it’s also a rewarding and worthwhile experience.
Think about the things that matter most to you and what you’re hoping to get out of your volunteering experience. Are you a people person? Or maybe you’re crazy about animals of all shapes and sizes? If so, then volunteering with animals may be the perfect fit for you.
Animals have the potential to love unconditionally and when you care for them, you’ll learn valuable skills and discover aspects of yourself you never knew. For animal-lovers, being surrounded by furry critters all the time can be absolute bliss. And for those who still don’t know how it feels to work with animals, give yourself a chance to get closer to them – it can yield more benefits than you realise.
Still not convinced? Here are five reasons to spend your free time volunteering with animals.
1. They’ll teach you to be more patient
Let’s face it, working with animals isn’t always as easy as it sounds. No two animals are the same, and there are plenty of unique personalities you’ll have to navigate when you work in a shelter or an animal sanctuary. Animals can also be very emotionally vulnerable creatures, so you have to take care when handling them. While dealing with people, you can express yourself with words and gestures. But for animals, you’re expressing yourself through emotional responses. That’s why sensitivity and patience are such important factors.
Many of these animals have come from abusive homes, which means they’re not always forthcoming when it comes to interacting with new people, so you’ll have to spend time creating a bond of trust so they learn to cooperate with you. But once that bond is built, it’s such an amazing and rewarding experience.
2. Animals can make you happier and healthier – it’s a scientific fact
There’s a pure and selfless sort of elation we get whenever we interact with animals, firing neurons in our brains and helping ease all the stresses that may have been plaguing our minds. Animals have been scientifically proven to be therapeutic for people dealing with stress and depression. In fact, many universities have even started providing ‘puppy therapy‘ for students during stressful exam times. Animal companionship has yielded positive effects on people suffering from loneliness in care homes, and studies have shown that the presence of a dog, cat or rabbit has improved the moods of children with autism and people suffering from Alzheimer’s. So it’s no wonder that volunteering to work with animals has a similar sort of effect.
The positive effects of being around animals reduce negative emotions and help with the development of effective interactions. So the more time you spend volunteering, the happier and more social you’ll become.
3. You’ll discover the importance of living in the moment
For humans like us, there’s always been an emphasis on how our past, present and future are interlinked. We’re really never in one place at a time. We keep thinking of yesterday’s dinner or what we can do next weekend, and these thoughts often cloud and impede our decision-making abilities. When you spend more time in the presence of animals, you’ll realise the importance of living in the moment; especially for animals who have experienced trauma or abuse. For them, that moment with your presence is the ultimate reality. It’s the thing that helps them develop and move past the horrors of their past.
So why not learn from your experience and start appreciating the present a bit more?
4. You’ll see the value of giving without expecting anything in return
More often than not, we give because we want something in return. But when you join a volunteer project to care for animals, you’ll learn that the most precious thing you can get in return are memories. True, you’re getting a great deal of affection back from the animals you’re caring for, but it’s not a selfish gain. Giving a voice to those who can’t speak for themselves is incredibly satisfying. You’ll soon recognise that care is the strongest language, and looking after an animal can dramatically improve your communication skills.
5. You’ll get to make a real difference
You may have donated to charities in the past and asked yourself, is that enough? When you join a volunteer project, you take the oath of making a real difference by offering your time to a worthy cause. You’re getting your hands dirty and inspiring immediate and tangible change. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t donate, but by actively participating in a cause like animal welfare, you’re seeing the influence you can make first-hand rather than funding others to do it for you. Nursing sick puppies in a shelter or working with elephant calves in a village of Thailand is such a different experience to clicking a ‘donate’ button, and it will leave a more lasting impression.
If you are an animal lover and have always wanted to contribute towards their well-being, then take part in a volunteer project and maybe even travel abroad to serve them. Not only will you get to explore a new destination, but you’ll also get to have several new experiences. Rest assured, you won’t return empty handed!
Riyanka Roy is an ordinary girl with some extraordinary dreams. She loves to believe in the miracles of destiny and wants to travel all over the world, spend time with the natives, binge on local food and absorb their culture. Life is like a book and whatever we do adds more chapters to it. She enjoys writing about whatever piques her interest, for each and every bit helps in making the chapters more and more colourful. She believes in volunteering for those who need help and has lived in rural India for quite some time.