Are you willing to lend a paw to the shelter animals in your area this summer? Animal welfare organizations often see a slump in volunteers when the summer hits and temperatures rise.

Caring for shelter pets, however, is a 365-day-a-year job. Shelters and rescues depend on volunteers to feed, walk, clean kennels and more every single day, regardless of the holiday or season.

It's a very rewarding experience to help make a difference for these homeless animals.

The summer months are especially hard because people often get out of their normal routines. College students go home, and high school students have completed their community service hours. If you've ever considered getting involved, now is the time!

At ARNO, for example, volunteers are needed from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. seven days a week. Duties vary, so you don't necessarily have to interact with the animals to help out and contribute to their daily care. There are dishes, laundry, sweeping, mopping, gardening and more to be done in addition to animal care, which includes feeding, cleaning kennels, walking dogs, socializing cats and more. Off-site, volunteers are needed to help with fundraisers, adoption events, clerical duties and more.

High school students can get a jump-start on their community service hours for next school year, and some shelters will permit court-ordered community service hours to be served volunteering.

Animal rescue and caring for shelter pets is hard work, and animal groups and shelters could not exist without the generous service of volunteers. They are vital assistants to shelter staff and help contribute to the mental health, socialization and happiness of the animals waiting for forever homes.

Volunteers can also help with bottle-feeding kittens, fostering animals in their homes and help socialize shelter animals by taking them to a dog park or for a car ride.

Here are a few organizations in the New Orleans metro area that have volunteer opportunities available all year long:

Animal Rescue New Orleans: animalrescueneworleans.org/volunteer

Louisiana SPCA: la-spca.org/donate/volunteer

Jefferson SPCA: www.jeffersonspca.org

Plaquemines Animal Welfare Society: paws4life.org

Spaymart: spaymart.org/how-you-can-help/volunteer

Northshore Humane Society: northshorehumane.org/volunteer

Tangi Humane Society: tangihumanesociety.org/volunteering

Events

THROUGH JUNE 15: The Parks Health and Fitness is sponsoring a pet food and supply drive through June 15 to support the Humane Society of Louisiana. The goal is to raise $2,000 and 1,000 pounds of pet food and supplies (toys, treats, bowls). Parks is located at 111 Robert E Lee Blvd., New Orleans. Its hours are 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday-Thursday; 5 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday; 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday; and 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday. Items can be placed in the donation bin near the reception desk. For more info, call (901) 268-4432.

SATURDAY: Join Animal Rescue New Orleans at Tutti Frutti Frozen Yogurt, 9029 Jefferson Highway, River Ridge from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Adoptable dogs will be outside, and 20% of sales will be donated to ARNO. For information, email adopt@animalrescueneworleans.org


Traci D. Howerton is the volunteer coordinator for Animal Rescue New Orleans, a nonprofit, volunteer-based, no-kill shelter. For topic suggestions, email animalrescuecolumn@gmail.com or for more info on ARNO, visit www.animalrescueneworleans.org.