6 Reasons to do Volunteer Work with Animals
If you’re passionate about something, making the time to give back and get involved can be really important to your happiness. Volunteering can be rewarding and worthwhile, as well as offer a mental break from the stresses of everyday life. Are you passionate about animals? If so, then doing volunteer work 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 new aspects of yourself. 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 six reasons to spend your free time doing volunteer work 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’re volunteering at an animal shelter or 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
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, some organisations, such as Paws in Work run ‘puppy therapy’ sessions to help boost mental health in the workplace.
Animal companionship has also yielded positive effects on people suffering from loneliness in care homes, and studies have shown that pet ownership can improve the lives of people with autism. So it’s no wonder that volunteer 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’re doing 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’re doing volunteer work at an animal sanctuary, you’ll learn that the most precious thing you can get in return is 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 difference 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 in Thailand is a very different experience to clicking a ‘donate’ button, and it will leave a more lasting impression.
6. You’ll gain valuable experience
Not only will you develop the skills mentioned above, such as patience, empathy and altruism, and meet new, likeminded people, you’ll also gain some valuable charity experience. This will improve your chances of getting a paid job working with animals in the future—if that’s what you’re aiming for. As a volunteer you’ll have the opportunity to ‘try out’ different jobs working with animals and see what best suits your skills and what you find most rewarding.
If you’re an animal lover and have always wanted to contribute towards their wellbeing, then find an opportunity to do volunteer work with animals 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, there’s everything to gain!
Keen to get going? Explore opportunities for volunteering with animals.
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.