Welcome to the Seattle Animal Shelter (SAS) Volunteer Program. We are grateful for your generosity and willingness to help SAS staff provide the animals that come under our care with the love and compassion they deserve.
SAS’ volunteer program policies were developed to ensure staff, volunteer and animal safety, and to provide everyone at the shelter with an enjoyable, rewarding and mutually beneficial experience. Please feel free to contact an SAS volunteer team lead or the Volunteer Coordinator if you have questions or want additional information regarding any of the information provided in this document.
A. Volunteer program agreement
1. SAS volunteer program utilizes Volgistics.com for logistics and communications purposes. All volunteers will maintain a volunteer account on Volgistics.com and enter prompt and accurate recordings of their volunteer service hours.
2. SAS in-shelter volunteers commit to providing a minimum of eight hours of service per month for six months. Volunteers schedule their shifts through team/shift leads.
3. We rely on our volunteers to arrive on time and be prepared to perform their roles and complete their entire shifts. If you must be absent from a scheduled shift, please notify your team/shift lead at least eight hours before your scheduled shift.
4. Due to safety and operational considerations, volunteers are required to receive critical shelter communications, such as “Important Updates,” by remaining on that particular Volgistics email list. Volunteers can unsubscribe from optional Volgistics communications, such as “Volunteer Program News,” “Help Needed” as they wish.
5. Volunteers are responsible for reviewing volunteer program policies, waiver and their current role description(s) on an annual basis.
6. We ask that volunteers refrain from using cell phones or other electronic devices during scheduled shifts for personal business. If you need to attend to a personal matter, please complete whatever task you are currently working on, inform a staff member that you need to attend to something else for a bit, and then leave the work area.
7. SAS will provide you with a t-shirt, smock or vest that must be worn when performing any SAS-related activity (with the exception of fostering pets), on or off the premises. We ask that you wear appropriate attire (e.g., no tank tops) for your assigned activities and that you wear close-toed shoes. A shelter-issued name tag must be worn while performing any SAS-related activity. If needed, an on-duty Animal Care Officer can issue you a temporary tag. Please alert the Volunteer Coordinator as soon as you are aware of a lost or missing tag.
8. Volunteers often act as the shelter’s first point of contact with the public and are seen as representing SAS and the City of Seattle. While we recognize that difficult situations can arise when dealing with different personalities, please strive to provide the best customer service when representing the Shelter and be courteous and polite to members of the public. If you are having a particularly difficult interaction with an individual, immediately notify a staff member or the Volunteer Coordinator for assistance.
9. SAS engages with a wide variety of individuals, including residents, donors, potential adopters, police officers, other government agencies, individuals under investigation for animal-related crimes, service providers and others. It is vital that we respect the confidentiality of the public we serve. As such, paperwork behind the front desk or work on staff computers may not be accessed without permission. I understand the importance of maintaining Seattle Animal Shelter (SAS) and City of Seattle confidential information, including but not limited to, personal information about licensees, adopters, donors, volunteers, business partners, other clients, and employee; plans, reports, financials, and any other third-party individuals or groups SAS transacts with. I agree that I will not divulge, disclose, provide, transfer onto my personal device, or disseminate, in any manner to any person or entity at any time, the confidential information as described above.
10. Injuries suffered while volunteering, including those inflicted by an animal, must immediately be reported to staff in writing via Volunteer Incident Form along with a Witness Report. An honest and thorough recount of the situation could be critical for the life of the animal and the safety of others.
11. SAS strives to cultivate a positive, professional environment where differences between individuals (staff and volunteers) are addressed and resolved in a professional manner. Even in difficult situations, professional conduct requires courtesy and respect. If this approach fails, contact the Volunteer Coordinator for assistance.
12. Gossip, which is rarely a good thing in any environment, can be extremely detrimental to volunteer and employee morale and productivity. Please know that your questions and feedback are valued, and we ask that you bring both to the attention of the Volunteer Coordinator so they can act upon your concerns.
13. It is important to refrain from discussing internal shelter business or making negative comments about the shelter, staff or other volunteers on social media. Volunteers participating in closed SAS online forums are required to familiarize themselves with additional posting guidelines. As mentioned previously, problems or concerns should be brought to the attention of the Volunteer Coordinator as soon as possible so they may be appropriately addressed.
14. We ask that you refer all media requests (including TV, radio, newspaper, and websites, etc.) to the shelter’s Director or the Volunteer Coordinator.
B. Animal care
1. For reasons including safety, liability and labor contract obligations, certain duties at the shelter can only be performed by staff. To help SAS keep animals in our care safe, do not perform tasks reserved for shelter staff. Review your volunteer role description regularly for guidance.
2. Shelter staff and officers rely on volunteers to comply with their requests to ensure safe care of the animals. If a certain task delegated to you has not been performed, please report it to the staff member as soon as possible and no later than end of your volunteer shift.
3. Notify staff immediately if you notice an animal in distress or with a medical concern.
4. Handling of animals is prohibited until you have attended training sessions specific to that species or task.
5. Do not handle new or restricted animals until the staff has cleared them for volunteers.
6. Unless explicitly directed by staff, do not feed any of the animals. If you feel an animal needs food, contact an Animal Care Officer. Overfeeding or changing an animal’s diet can be very detrimental to its health. The exception is treats, which may be used as positive reinforcement per each team’s guidelines.
7. Medications, including appetite enhancers, are only to be administered as directed by staff.
8. Staff will indicate in writing on the kennel of the affected animal why it may be off-limits to volunteers – e.g., “Do Not Touch – aggressive cat” or “Do Not Touch – recent surgery requires special treatment.”
9. Please do not make notes on any animal’s kennel card.
10. It is imperative that you not discuss a “court hold” animal with the public. Such conversations can negatively impact the City’s legal standing and negatively affect the animal’s chance at a happy future.
11. The staff is responsible for the determination of how an animal will be routed through the shelter. If a volunteer has questions about a potential routing for a specific animal, s/he should contact the Volunteer Coordinator, not shelter staff.
12. Please do not interrupt conversations between staff and the public, except in cases of emergency.
13. If you have concerns about a decision made by a staff member, please bring it to your shift/team lead or, in their absence, the Volunteer Coordinator.
14. Please do not contact outside agencies or the public about transferring animals, but be sure to share your thoughts and recommendations with shelter staff at your earliest convenience.
15. Please do not name or change the name of an animal without first obtaining the staff’s consent. Suggestions, of course, are always welcome.
16. Interaction with animals on stray hold is governed by team-specific rules.
17. Quarantine areas are off limits to all volunteers at all times.
18. All wildlife (i.e., animals not normally considered suitable as a pet) is off limits to volunteers. If an animal is not being housed in the dog, cat or critter areas, consider it to be wildlife unless otherwise indicated on the cage card or explicitly notified by staff.
C. Interactions with potential adopters
1. Although it might be tempting, please do not attempt to persuade a potential adopter to adopt an animal as they need to connect with an animal, understand its needs and carefully consider whether they can provide for and commit to that particular animal without feeling any pressure. It is fine to share your own experiences with, and express your fondness for, a specific animal, but the potential adopter must be given the space to make a decision that is right for them.
2. Please do not disclose any information about an animal before it is made ready for adoption, except when it involves finding a potential owner of a lost animal. Don’t hesitate to consult with animal care staff in cases where you are uncertain of the proper protocols.
3. If potential adopters have questions regarding a "special circumstance," (e.g., no other pets, no children), please direct them to animal care staff.
4. If a potential adopter asks for any kind of special condition or consideration (e.g., reduction in fees), refer them to the staff.
5. If an animal has a medical or behavioral issue, please direct the potential adopter to shelter staff to answer questions and provide information. Medical advice and/or behavioral modification advice should only be provided by shelter staff.
6. Because adoption fees vary widely, do not quote any amount to a potential adopter. Ask them to speak with an Animal Care Officer.
7. If you have a concern about the suitability of a potential adopter to care for an animal, immediately bring it to the attention of the Animal Care Officers.
1. The Seattle Animal Shelter strives to save every animal that comes in to the shelter. SAS accepts all animals, regardless of their health, age, breed or temperament. Sadly, it is not always possible to re-home all animals. In some cases, euthanasia may be the most humane option for the animal. SAS considers euthanasia to be a last resort and our staff find it distressing, difficult and painful when no other alternative exists. Please be respectful and refrain from confronting animal care staff regarding a decision to euthanize an animal.
2. Though constructive volunteer insight is welcomed through the Volunteer Coordinator, SAS staff are solely responsible for making euthanasia-related decisions.
3. Euthanasia decisions can also be extremely upsetting for volunteers. If you have any concerns or questions regarding a euthanasia decision, please direct them to the Volunteer Coordinator.
4. Any postings on social media regarding euthanasia decisions, including in an SAS closed forum, are strictly prohibited.
Please inquire for a copy of this sections if you also provide or plan to provide foster care to SAS animals in your home.
In cases where a volunteer commits minor violations of SAS’ policies, SAS management will verbally counsel them and provide an opportunity to comply moving forward. Continued violations could result in additional counseling or dismissal from the program. Serious violations – including animal abuse; abusive, threatening, harassing behavior to staff, volunteers or customers; possession of drugs or weapons; disclosure of confidential information; disregarding the guidelines surrounding postings on social media; or other actions of a serious nature – could result in immediate dismissal from the volunteer program.
WAIVER, RELEASE, ASSUMPTION OF RISK & INDEMNITY AGREEMENT
For and in consideration of my participation in the Seattle Animal Shelter Volunteer Program, a voluntary, public/private cooperative program, I agree as follows:
1. I know the nature of the Seattle Animal Shelter Volunteer Program and my experience and capabilities, and believe myself to be qualified to participate in the Seattle Animal Shelter Volunteer Program. I will inspect Seattle Animal Shelter Volunteer Program sites and will not proceed with volunteer work unless the site is safe to my satisfaction. I understand that there is some danger to my person and that I could – for a variety of known, unknown, foreseeable and unforeseeable reasons, including negligence of the City of Seattle and the employees and volunteers, officers and agents of that entity and/or persons – be seriously injured. In extreme cases, such injuries could include permanent disability, paralysis or even death (“risks”). Even understanding these risks, I consent to participation in the Seattle Animal Shelter Volunteer Program and assert that I am willing to participate in the Seattle Animal Shelter Volunteer Program.
2. I understand that the City currently provides supplemental medical insurance to volunteers that may provide me with coverage in excess of my own medical policy in the event I am injured while participating in the Seattle Animal Shelter Volunteer Program. I further understand that the City may terminate such supplemental coverage in the future.
3. I accept and assume all risks, and assume all responsibility for the losses, costs and/or damages following an injury I suffer in the course of my participation in the Seattle Animal Shelter Volunteer Program, including disability, paralysis or death, even if caused in whole or in part by the negligence of the following releasees: the City of Seattle, its employees, volunteers, officers and agents, and (collectively the “releasees”). My acceptance of risks includes releasing and agreeing not to sue the releasees. I also agree to indemnify and save and hold harmless the releasees and each of them from any and all litigation expenses, attorney fees, loss, liability, damage or cost they may incur due to a claim made against any of the releasees identified above based on an injury to me incurred within the course and scope of my participation in the Seattle Animal Shelter Volunteer Program.
4. I understand that the City of Seattle provides insurance for claims made against me as a result of my participation in the Seattle Animal Shelter Volunteer Program, provided that such claims are based on an act or omission in the course and scope of my volunteering as a part of the Seattle Animal Shelter Volunteer Program. I further agree that, to the extent I seek coverage from the City for any such claim, I will comply with the terms of SMC 4.64.100.
5. Upon signing, I give my permission to be photographed and/or filmed and have my image used by City of Seattle.
I have thoroughly read this liability waiver, release, assumption of the risk and indemnity agreement and understand by signing it I am giving up substantial rights I might otherwise have to damages for losses arising from my participation in the Seattle Animal Shelter volunteer program. I am signing freely, voluntarily and without inducement.
I understand and agree that submitting this application form does not automatically register me as a Seattle Animal Shelter volunteer, and that there may be certain qualifications I must meet, including the acceptance of established volunteer policies and procedures to continue volunteering.
By submitting this form, I attest that the information I have provided on the form is true and accurate.