Posted January 10, 2019 at 06:24 AM Under "Everything else!"
Kids and Volunteer Programs

Hello! Just curious as to what everyone's policies are when it comes to kids and their organization's volunteer program when it comes to interactions with shelter dogs. We currently allow kids age 13-15 to volunteer with a parent/legal guardian but the parent must be the handler of the dog at all times and both the parent and child must attend orientation. Kids age 16+ can handle the dogs on their own once they complete orientation and have approval from a volunteer coordinator. We recently had an incident where a 14 year old was volunteering with her mother and while attempting to put a collar on one of our dogs the 14 year old was bitten on the face. This has prompted a lot of discussion on what rules should be in place for kids volunteering with the dogs and as well whether kids should be allowed to interact with the dogs at all. While some parents are cautious and do a good job supervising their kids unfortunately not all are.

Thank you for your input!

  • Marty    January 16, 2019 at 06:28 AM

    Fearless kitty Rescue is a cat only rescue but we allow teens to come in and clean. Until the age of eighteen we have them and their parents sign a release of liability. I am usually the one that accompanies them while they clean and at the end we pick a room with cats that are friendly so they can pet it is always a good idea to stay with them as you never know as you pointed out how well the parent will pay attention.

    • micheller    January 16, 2019 at 05:50 PM

      Thank you!

  • Tiffany    January 10, 2019 at 07:10 AM

    As a general rule, we only allow volunteers 18 and up to volunteer with the dogs. Even they go through extensive training to avoid a situation like this because shelter dogs can be unpredictable. We may have instances where, when supervised completely by a staff member, we allow Youth volunteers to interact with a dog, but that's normally on a rare occasion or for a reason. You can always do things like reading to the dogs, having them do behavior training from outside the kennel and focus on animals that are safer to interact with like small animals and cats with the proper training. Hope this helps!

    • micheller    January 10, 2019 at 05:10 PM

      Thank you!