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How to get started

ARF offers a variety of ways you can help animals and people. The work ARF accomplishes every year would not be possible without the generous contributions of its volunteers. By joining a team of dedicated volunteers, you will be helping ARF in its mission to provide the resources and support necessary to build lifelong relationships between people and pets.


ARF asks for a six month commitment of at least eight hours a month.

Age Requirement
Adult volunteer positions are for those aged 18 and older. Teens may be interested in the ARF Teen Training program intended for high school students.

Community Service
ARF requires a six month minimum commitment from all volunteers. We are unable to accommodate short term community service volunteer opportunities or sign off on hours before this six month commitment is complete.

ARF offers a variety of internship positions within our different departments including Animal Care, Volunteer Services and People Connect.

Volunteer Orientation
Prospective volunteers must attend a volunteer orientation meeting to learn about ARF's history, mission and goals as well as current volunteer opportunities. The 1½ hour informational meeting includes a tour of the ARF facility.

ARF offers two volunteer orientations a month for potential volunteers at the shelter located at 2890 Mitchell Drive in Walnut Creek, California (corner of Oak Grove Road and Mitchell Drive). Please look at the calendar below for upcoming orientation dates.

Register online now

Sign up!

Volunteer orientation registrations are accepted up to 4 weeks in advance. Space is limited and registration is required.

Please sign up online to attend a volunteer orientation or call ARF’s main line at 925.256.1273. If the orientation date you select does not show an available time, the orientation is full. Please email with additional questions.

Frequently Asked Questions

How old do volunteers need to be?
You must be at least 18-years-old to join the adult volunteer program at ARF.

If I am not yet 18-years-old, but want to help, what can I do?
You can participate in the ARF Teen Training program for Teens and Pre-Teens.


I work Monday through Friday. Can I volunteer after work or on weekends?
Weekend and evening volunteer opportunities are available.

What kind of commitment does ARF require?
ARF asks for a commitment of six months, at least eight hours a month.

Can I complete my court ordered community service at ARF?
If you are unable to make the required six months commitment or wish to complete community service, please, see the list of community service projects or contact the volunteer services department for information about ARF's quarterly group projects. Quarterly group projects consist of 4-6 hours of maintenance or landscaping work necessary to the success of this organization.

I have a pet who I think would be a great therapy animal. What are my options?
You and your pet might be a great addition to ARF's Pet Hug Pack™.

How can I become an ARF foster parent?
Every new foster family means another pet rescued from over-burdened public shelters. Find out more about ARF's foster program.

After I attend orientation, how long until I can start volunteering?
Some volunteer jobs require training sessions or prerequisites while other jobs can be started right away. You can learn more about specific jobs and prerequisites at the volunteer orientation session.

If you are unable to make at least a 6 month commitment to volunteering, there are many other ways to help.

CLICK HERE to see how else YOU can make a difference!

Volunteer Opportunities

Would you like to be a part of a life-saving team? Can you share your time and talents to connect people and pets?

Here are a few jobs open to volunteers at ARF.

Animal Care

  • Shelter Essentials Volunteer
    Complete the necessary tasks in support of ARF animals. Includes washing toys/dishes, restocking rooms, sanitizing litter boxes, washing/folding laundry, sweeping and mopping hallways/kitchens. Training required: 1 Shelter Essentials class.
  • Cat Care Volunteer
    Ensure the comfort and care of ARF felines while they await adoption. Prerequisites: Completion of 16 hours/ 2 months of Shelter Essential tasks. Training required: 1 Cat Care class and coaching session(s) with mentor volunteers.
  • Dog Care Volunteer
    Ensure the comfort and care of ARF canines while they await adoption. Prerequisites: Completion of 16 hours/ 2 months of Shelter Essential tasks. Training required: 2 Dog Care classes and 4 coaching sessions with mentor volunteers.
  • Dog Training Assistant  
    Assist trainers by filling water bowls, taking attendance, and reinforcing methods. Training provided by class instructor.
  • Vet Clinic Assistant
    Help keep ARF’s veterinary clinic clean and assist with recovering animal care. Prerequisite: Ability to stoop to clean cages and possibly lift 40 lb. animal. Training provided by Clinic staff
  • Animal Foster
    Provide shelter for rescued animals while they await permanent new homes. Prerequisites: Must be at least 21years of age and/or have the consent of parent, who will be fostering with you. Must be able to verify that you can house pets in your current home and make at least a six month commitment as a volunteer. Training: Intro to Fostering class.


  • Greeter/Tabler
    Welcome and educate the community when they visit the facility and at mobile adoption events. Training required: Tabler/Greeter class and coaching by mentor volunteers.
  • Cat or Dog Adoption Counselor
    Work as a matchmaker between potential adopters and their new family member. Prerequisites: Tabler/ Greeter training and 8 hours in either role plus 8 hours of Dog Care or Cat Care experience. Training required: Adoption Counselor class plus coaching by mentor volunteers.
  • Boutique  
    Assist new adopters with pet supply purchases for their new family member. Training provided.

People Connect

  • Humane Education Assistant
    Educate community members on responsible care and treatment of animals. Training provided.
  • Added Touch Volunteer
    Introduce gentle ARF dogs or cats to visitors from assisted living facilities or adult day programs. Prerequisite: 8 hours in Dog Care or Cat Care role.
  • Learning Center Docent
    Lead school aged children through interactive experience of pet guardianship. Training provided.

ARF Support

  • ARF Thrift Store Associate
    Assist in ARF’s resale thrift shop and support the Emergency Medical Fund Training provided by mentor volunteers.
  • Office Volunteer
    Assist ARF staff with assorted administrative assignments. Training provided by staff or mentor volunteers.
  • FoodShare transporter
    Deliver pet food and supplies to families in need or feral colony guardians. Prerequisite: California driver’s license and clean driving record. Training provided.
  • St. Bernard Club Member
    Do you have a flexible schedule? Volunteers SAVE THE DAY doing a variety of jobs such as stuffing goodie bags, taking inventory or running errands. Prerequisite: Email address and willingness to be contacted whenever a project comes our way. Training provided as necessary.


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