YOUTH VOLUNTEERS (age 18 and under)

Helping Hands welcomes volunteers of all ages to help us save lives of cats and dogs in our community! Each year, volunteer spend hundreds of hours helping to set up adoption events, walk dogs and supervise cats and kittens to help find their perfect forever home. If you are looking for a fun and engaging opportunity to show your child how rewarding it is to help those in need- look no further!

Helping Hands Pet Rescue is one of the few animal rescues in Alachua County without age restrictions on our volunteers. We DO REQUIRE however that any underage volunteers be accompanied and under the direct supervision of a parent or guardian at all times for their safety and the safety of our adoptable cats and dogs.

We realize that by engaging our Youth Volunteers as they discover their passion for helping the cats and dogs here in Alachua County, we are helping to develop tomorrows leaders in the animal welfare community.

If you would like to sign up to assist in an adoption event with your child, please fill out a Volunteer Application and we will be in touch with you within 48 hours. If you have any further questions- send an email today at!


Safety is our top priority for our volunteers. When volunteering, we ask that you keep a close eye on your child. Encourage gentle behavior when they are working with our adoptable animals, and always speak with a Volunteer Lead before handling to ensure that pet is kid-friendly. It is a great opportunity to teach what we like to call good “Pet Manners”

  • Ask permission- Some cats and dogs are too unpredictable for children to handle safely. Many small breed dogs require a slow introduction before handling- so reaching right in and grabbing is stressful to them- so ask your Volunteer Lead which animal would be a good fit to work with children.
  • Respect boundaries – Adoption Events can be stressful on pets- so you need to make sure you are giving them time to get adjusted to their new environment.
  • Be Aware- Make sure you are closely supervising your child at all times- there are many people and animals at our adoption events and it can get pretty hectic!

Adoptions are located at the PetSmart in Butler Plaza, off Archer Road by Best Buy and Trader Joe’s, our organization is inside behind the dog training area.

For adoption events (on Saturday and occasionally Sunday) we split the event up into two shifts: 10:30-2pm and 2pm-6pm. If you need alternative hours, please let us know as we are flexible!

Our only requirement for volunteering is a drive to help find our animals great homes! If there are cat/dog allergies we can have you assist adopters without handling the animals. Training on our policies and procedures is provided to each volunteer at the start of their shift.

Closed toes shoes and long pants (puppies have pretty sharp nails!) are recommended but not required of you don’t mind a few scratches! Our Volunteer Manual is available on our website, if you have any additional questions about our organization.


~My child is interested in volunteering! How can we get started?
Great news! Please fill out an application to begin!

~What hours will my child be volunteering?
Adoption Events run from 11am-5pm. Since this can be a long day- we break up the event into two shifts- 10:30am-2pm and 2pm-6pm. The first shift helps set up for the event and assist potential adopters. The second shift assist potential adopters and helps break down the event.

~Where is the adoption event?
Our Adoption Event is located at the PetSmart off Archer Road in Butler Plaza near the Best Buy, Trader Joe’s and Ross. We are located inside PetSmart behind the dog training area (halfway through the store and to the left). Occasionally we will be located outside under a tent in the parking lot for our PetSmart National Adoption Days. Our Volunteer Coordinator will let you know if you are volunteering on one of these days!

~Is there a sign up sheet?
Yes! Please ensure that you and your child have signed in, and signs out at the end of their shift to get credit for your time. The sign in/sign out sheet is located on a wooden rolling cart. We use this to confirm total volunteer hours for community service credit.

~What should my child and I wear?
Taking dogs for walks, setting up and breaking down the adoption event all require closed toe shoes (sneakers are best!). Long pants are strongly recommended as excited dogs can jump up and scratch even the best dog walker.

~What will we be doing during the event?
Depending on the age and comfort level with animals- our Youth Volunteers can help with a variety of things, usually broken up into three areas; Dog Walkers, Puppy Patrol and Cat Helpers.

Our Dog Walkers bring each dog for quick walk twice during their shift and provide them with water. This is for older Youth Volunteers who have a strong comfort level with handling dogs. Our Puppy Patrol Volunteers help to make sure our puppies are being handled safely and that everyone who comes in contact with them sanitizes their hands before and after. This is a favorite for younger volunteers and their guardian. Our Cat Helpers make sure that our adoptable cats and kittens are being handled gently and safely and is a great choice for new volunteers without much animal handling experience.

Volunteers are encouraged to help assist potential adopters find their perfect match!

~Are we required to attend an Orientation?
Volunteer Leads are available to answer any questions during our adoption event and provide an orientation of our policies and procedures at the start of each shift (10:30-11 and 2-2:30).

~Are we only able to volunteer at adoption events?
We encourage you to think outside of the box when it comes to volunteering! While most volunteers opt to help us at our events- we have had some amazing kids who weren’t able to commit to Saturdays help in fundraising events to help fund our mission. Idea’s have included Supply Drives at school, Bake Sales and even a Birthday Fundraising Challenge!

If your child is interested in helping in fundraising, please send us an email at to get started!